Potter brings father/child together

Colleen Stein

Colleen Stein

Rowling’s Magic Harry Potter Gumbo

1 Tuft Merlin’s beard, 1 Hairy toe of Hobbit, 1 Fistful fairy wings, 1 Wallop Wonka 1 gal. Greek Mythology.

Combine ingredients in an iron cauldron and cook over an open flame. Once brought to a boil, remove from heat and let cool for three years. Rowling’s Magic Harry Potter gumbo makes four to seven servings…

I’m definetly not one to jump on the bandwagon, so why would a 20-year old nonconformist college student enjoy Harry Potter? I have my reasons…

I grew up learning to love controversy. Anything the general public hated, my father adored.

Family night sitcoms included The Simpsons, Married with Children and South Park. As a former lobbyist for the satellite industry, my dad firmly believed in the power of free speech.

He was a full-fledged activist for an enclave of radical organizations. The man spent hours surfing the web, researching political conspiracies, provoking verbal fist fights with the town’s mayor, and serving as secretary for the South Dakota Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

The issue of people attempting to ban stories of an orphan wizard from school and library shelves was small potatoes to my father?but I, with an affinity for fantasy and lore, saw it as a good topic for my argumentative essay in composition class.

Upon buying the first book, I fell instantly in love. That’s when I went from an average person, ignorantly passing store shelves lined with paperbacks of what appeared to be Where’s Waldo on a broomstick, into a hardcore Harry Potter fan.

It did not take long until one of my Potter books fell into my father’s hands.

The man read an average of one to two books a night, alternating authors like Alan Dean Foster, Patrick McManus and Carlos Castaneda. As I was cracking open the third book in the series, The Prisoner of Azkaban, me father was already finished with its two predecessors, telling my to hurry up and read faster. Several evenings we compared notes over dinner, agreeing J.K. Rowling had done well with her tales of innocent fantasy and fun.

We appreciated her style and themes, which were delivered the same manner as Roald Dahl, who wrote the classics Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Aside from the books, we also anticipated the upcoming release of the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in December 2001.

Plans to attend the movie together fell short when my father died of a massive heart attack in October.

It was then that I found myself actually identifying with the character of Harry Potter, who had lost both of his parents in early childhood.

I suddenly knew what it was like to be not only different and an outcast but to also feel utterly alone and abandoned, forever missing someone I loved and connected with.

Today, I collect silly little Harry Potter propaganda as a way to pay homage to my dad and what we had in common.

Simple things like children’s books can serve as portals to beautiful times once spent, filling the air with the breath of someone loved, lost and remembered.

Send comments to Colleen Stein at [email protected]