Thursday, July 30, 2009

Harry Potter and My Dad

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows went on sale the same day that my Mom called me earlier to tell me that the doctors didn't think my Dad was going to make it much longer. It was a Friday. I had just come back from a work related trip from Houston. I was supposed to go to work Friday and the plan was than my vacation was going to start and I was heading up to Memphis to visit my Mom and Dad. My Dad was in the hospital, but I think I was expecting him to get better. Everyday I talked to my Mom and I knew he was not doing good. He forgot things, he didn't know who my Mom was at times, other times he thought he was somewhere else, doing things besides lying in a hospital bed. It was only later that I learned the cancer had traveled to his brain. But I refused to believe that he was not going to get better. I figured I'd come up for the week, he'd get better and maybe leave the hospital soon.

I knew the final volume of Harry Potter was going on sale that night at midnight. I was trying to decide if I was going to buy it before I headed north or wait till I arrived there. My plan was that after work I'd get a few hours sleep and than leave around three in the morning to drive up. That's how I almost always did it. I liked driving late at night, with little traffic on the road.

That morning, around ten I got a call from my Mom. She was crying. Now if you knew my Mom you would know how strong she is, so if she was crying I knew something was bad. She told me that the doctors didn't think my Dad was going to last much longer. He had slipped into a coma. I told her I would leave right away. Than I called work. I was fine, I asked for another manager and when Don came on the phone I found I could barely get the words out.

Afterwards I hung up and called my brother at his work. The previous week my brother and I had a fight, I'm not going to go into what it was about, we rarely argue as adults, but this one was big and at the time I was not talking to him. I really think it could have went on for awhile and perhaps seriously rendered our relationship. But none of that mattered now. I told him what was going on and he said he'd meet me at my house and we'd drive up together.

Somehow I didn't think too much about Harry Potter at that time.

It's a six hour and a little to spare to get to Memphis from my house. We took my brother's truck, Buffy in the rear seat and the two of us talking on the way up. We talked a lot about family, my Dad, my Mom, my Sister and we laughed a lot on the way up. There were a lot of good memories.

We dropped Buffy off at my Moms and headed to the hospital. It was in Cornith Mississippi, about an hours drive from my Moms. When we got to the hospital I was surprised to see how many people were in my Dad's room. This was late at night, after nine and the room was filled with my Aunts and Uncles and cousins, all from my Mom's side of the family. They were all that lived here, my Dad's sister lived in New Jersey. I think my Dad would have been really surprised, he was always one of those people that never realized what an impact his life had on others.

After a few hours my brother and I decided to head back to my Moms. We were picking up my niece and nephew who were flying in early tomorrow and my Mom wanted us to stop at Walmart (one of the only places that was open all night) and pick up a few things. They already had a crew of people that were staying the night, so we decided to head back.

We got to Walmart like five minutes after midnight. We saw a crowd of people going into the store and wondered what was going on. Than I remembered. Harry Potter was just going on sale. We went in and did our shopping and than both my brother and I got a copy of the book.

My father held on till the middle of the following week. In between the time spent with him, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After he died and inbetween making arrangements and being with my Mom and the rest of the family I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

It was reassuring. It was like visiting an old friend. The message of the book, the importance of love, was so important. It's hard to describe what reading that book meant at that time. This book will always have an important meaning in my life. I'm not going to say it made that week easier, but it was a crutch that helped me walk through that week.

When I finally got to the last book in my quest to re-read all of Harry Potter I opened the book and out fell one of those cards from the funeral home announcing my Dad's burial. I had forgotten I had put it in there. I stared at it for a few minutes, gazing at the picture of my Dad on the front, remembering his laughter and than I started to read the book.
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Travis said...

Thank you for sharing this very poignant story.

JohnH985 said...

This book will always have a special meaning for me.

aims said...

this was such a great post, John!

JohnH985 said...


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