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On TV and in his heart, a local man finds comfort

Husband of a local teacher who died in August meets with a medium on 'Oprah Winfrey Show.'

February 17, 2007|By Michael Alexander

Wade Tift is certain his late wife will always be with him in some way or another, but this week he found a little more certainty when he appeared on Oprah Winfrey's TV show.

While the answering machine of his house in Costa Mesa still carries the voice of Candace Tift, the Eastbluff Elementary School teacher who died after being hit by a car in August, Wade Tift says he has now heard her more directly.

He appeared Thursday on Winfrey's show along with his wife's mother, Mary Logan, to meet with medium Allison DuBois, who he believes contacted Candace Tift in the studio. Though uncertain what to expect, Tift said that DuBois told him things only his wife could have known, and then his "skepticism swept away."

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"We feel Candace orchestrated this," he said. "I believe that Candace wanted us to know she was OK. I now know she hears every conversation I have with her."

Candace Tift was hit by a car on Aug. 23 while riding her bike in Newport Beach. She died the next day.

Wade Tift said Logan got him involved, almost by chance. The Arizona resident never watches "The Oprah Winfrey Show," but she wrote in with her family's story when she heard about an episode on mediums. The show contacted Tift and Logan, and after several conversations with Winfrey's staff to make sure DuBois would have no information on them ahead of time, they agreed to try it.

Tift has more mundane ways of keeping him and 21-month-old son Owen Tift in touch with Candace Tift. There are countless videos, photos and letters capturing some piece of her, he said; for that he calls himself lucky, especially so Owen can know his mother.

"We continuously talk about Candace and who she was," Tift said. "He will know, when he's older, a lot about who Candace was. He'll be able to watch and read and understand who his mom was."

But Wade Tift is grateful for more than the memories. In conversation, he returns again and again to the people who have supported him since his wife's death — they include his family and friends, the people at Eastbluff Elementary and total strangers.

"People have been stopping by the house, dropping off dinners — anything that's needed," he said. "We really are in a small, tight community. It feels comforting knowing people care about you even when they've never met you."

That help is sorely needed sometimes, he said. Wade Tift is working "two full-time jobs by myself": one as a vice president at commercial real estate firm Grubb & Ellis, and one as single parent to son Owen. He sees his son often but said juggling obligations has given him sympathy for all single parents.

Despite the grief and the hardship, Tift, a practicing Roman Catholic, said his faith was never shaken by his wife's death.

"I believe that Candace was an angel on this earth, and she had a purpose here," he said. "For some reason God needed her for a different role, and all her qualities were needed in Heaven. I know she's taking care of others right now as we speak."

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