Goodbye, Harry Potter: The boy wizard almost part of the family after all these years
I looked up from the cutting board, intrigued by the story my 12-year-old son was telling me, and pleased that Kevin was taking an interest in something at school. It had become a daily ritual while I fixed dinner that he would summarize for me what the teacher had read to the class that day from the book about Harry Potter.
His excitement about the book was contagious and I decided it was my turn to join the millions of other children and adults who were reading about the boy wizard.
That was just the beginning.
Chapter one of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” had me hooked. I was enchanted by the magical world of owls, wands, broomsticks, potions and the lovable (and not so lovable) characters that were Harry’s classmates, friends, teachers and foes. The humor and themes of the book were appealing and I was riveted to the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione.
When I finished book one, it was on to book two, “The Chamber of Secrets,” and then book three, “The Prisoner of Azkaban.” I finished Azkaban just in time for the release of “The Goblet of Fire” in July of 2000.
Harry has been a part of my life — almost like another son — for more than 10 years, and he has seen me through raising my sons from pre-teens to young adults on their own. Harry was with me when I went through a divorce, and later was my magical escape from the struggles of single parenthood and managing the household.
I was reading “The Order of the Phoenix” when I found the new love in my life, and I re-read it while lounging on the beach on our honeymoon. Reading book six, “The Half-Blood Prince” and book seven, “The Deathly Hallows,” was intertwined with watching movies of the previous books.
I re-read most of the books prior to the release of new ones and when the movies started hitting the theaters, I always had a ticket. Birthday and Christmas presents for the past 11 years have included the latest paperback release or movie on DVD.
In 2008, when I turned the final page of book seven, I couldn’t help but cry, realizing the finality of it. My time with The Boy Who Lived had ended. It was difficult saying goodbye to a young man who’d grown up as one of my own.
I celebrated a milestone birthday a few weeks ago and my scheming family decided that a surprise party with a Harry Potter theme was the only way to go.
The party was scheduled two weeks after the real day, and happened to fall on my older son Jon’s birthday. My mom said she was planning a “casual, mid-year get-together” for the family — we’d have pizza and drinks and I should bring Jon’s favorite angel food cake for a little birthday celebration dessert.
Like a chapter from the books, the sneaky devils had been plotting all along.
Allen and I arrived at my parent’s house at 3:30 that afternoon as suggested, and when I opened the door, a rousing chorus of costumed characters greeted me.
A faux brick wall blocked my way and a white snow owl dangled a roll of parchment in front of me. My composure completely undone, I was instructed to read my Hogwarts “acceptance letter” and then I could enter through the brick wall, identified as the 9 3/4 Platform to the Hogwarts Express.
I passed through the platform, entering a room filled with various wizards and witches (friends and family), along with some Muggles (non-magical people) who’d joined the festivities. Hagrid and his baby spider Aragog were there and Dobby showed me his one dirty sock. The pasty Dark Arts antagonist Lord Voldemort hovered nearby and Auror Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody approached, flask in hand. Various Hogwarts teachers and students milled about and after changing into his robe and applying the lightening scar, Harry Potter (Allen) himself, joined the party.
I chose a wand from Ollivanders wand shop (or it chose me) and I was offered a selection from the bowl of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (bellybutton lint-flavored), quickly washing it down with a drink from the bubbling cauldron.
The Great Hall was adorned with Hogwarts banners and a wayward Quidditch Golden Snitch paused briefly on the table, not far from the Sirius Black “wanted” criminal poster. I opened Harry Potter-themed and gag gifts and dined on magical cake and ice cream while wearing the Sorting Hat (yeah, Gryfinndor!)
When I watch “The Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” odds are I’ll be crying as the finality hits me once again.
Thank you, Harry, for accompanying me on my life’s journey these past 11 years, and for letting me be a part of yours. Your perseverance in the battle of good and evil validates what we’ve known all along — love conquers all.
You’re all grown up now Harry ... it’s time to let you go.
Wands at the ready — let the magic begin, one last time.