Her name was Kathleen. She stood fairly tall for her young age of
nineteen. She had striking blue eyes and the darkest, most unmanageable
hair of all her siblings. Living alone in a two-bedroom house outside
of Hogsmeade, she worked as a Ministry of Magic consultant on Muggle
Relations. She had successfully finished at Hogwarts one year earlier
than most students, doubling her efforts to prepare her for a moment
like this. Unlike her siblings who had families of their own, she
volunteered herself for the responsibilities of caring for her
grandfather. He was terminally ill, suffering from a Muggle disease
known as Alzheimers. It arose due to the Muggle blood that flowed
through his veins. It was rare that a wizard would contract a Muggle
disease, but the family lineage that was Muggle-born was stronger than
any magic known to exist.
His days had progressed in a
downward spiral since Kathleen took on her new tasks. What pained her
most was her grandfather's inability to recognize his "fairy" -- a
nickname he gave her on the day she was born. Her grandfather would
spend many days looking absently out a window in his bedroom without
the faintest hint or blink of awareness. Kathleen knew he was no longer
there in spirit. She had only to wait 'til the body chose its finality.
she chose to sit in a chair behind him. She wondered if there still was
thought that processed in his mind. Reading from books, she
acknowledged that those thoughts would be jumbled, but somehow still
focused on one person: his wife. Kathleen's grandmother had
passed away one year prior. He lost hope upon her passing. The rest of
the family gave up hope on him when he finally succumbed to the
debilities of the illness.
Kathleen never minded having to bathe his frail form, nor having to clean up after he soiled himself. A quick Scourgify
spell would take care of anything left behind. What she worried most
about was his dignity. He had been considered by most as the greatest
wizard of the later twentieth century after his defeat of an evil
wizard. His heroics were studied in every wizarding school around the
world. Those were the memories he would leave to those who would want
to follow in his footsteps.
To Kathleen, however, he was
"Gramps." He had given her the first broom she ever rode. He always
came to Hogwarts to watch each Quidditch match that she played in as
Seeker. Right there sitting next to the headmaster was her grandfather,
dressed in her house colors of Gryffindor. And when she would catch the
Snitch, he was always the first to stand and explode into applause.
Kathleen admired him for his heroics, but loved him so much for just
being her Gramps.
Oftentimes, she would pull out a photo album
and share those pictures of him on his own broom catching the Snitch
during his school days. Sometimes, it would cause him to react and
touch the picture before he would stare away again.
yesterday, the doctor had been by to visit. Gramps no longer was eating
or drinking liquids. His body was ransacked with bruises from his
vitamin deficiency. He was dehydrated from the fluids that were quickly
depositing themselves out of his body. Today, he was covered by an
unusual cold sweat. Kathleen had been up to check up him early in the
morning. Upon placing her lips on his forehead, she tasted death
approaching for the first time. It was only a matter of time, as the
The rest of the family wanted to come by her
home, but Kathleen refused. "Remember him the way he was," she
would tell them. She wanted to keep her grandfather's spirit strong in
everyone's hearts. To see the reaction on her family's face of this
once strong man, now a feeble individual, would hurt his dignity more
than anything her family could tell her, she thought. Kathleen knew
this and chose to honor Gramps with this final, unspoken request. Their
secret would be theirs forever. Kathleen knew that the man who sat in
his favorite chair for the remaining hours of his life no longer held
the spirit she loved. It had departed and joined his wife a long time
* * * * *
As day turned to
night, his thoughts did become clearer. He had remembered fondly on his
days at school and the Great War that ended before he left Hogwarts. He
remembered the weddings of his school friends, and the class reunion
some twenty years later. But most importantly he remembered his wife.
had the reddest hair he had ever seen. Her pale skin was smooth and
silky to the touch. Her freckles only heightened her beauty immensely.
She was both fierce and feminine, and he loved her like no other. He
had learned to know love through the gaze in her eyes. One look could
make him melt as snow in springtime. His victory became an engagement
party the day the war ended. They would marry one year later and have
three wonderful children.
Kathleen's mother looked like her
grandmother -- a perfect image in appearance and spirit. Kathleen did
not get her mother's looks, but was damned sure that she would make due
with that fighting spirit. He recalled the day he first held Kathleen
in his arms. She would be the last grandchild -- and the most like him.
She was his beautiful fairy, because of the miracle she bestowed when
his daughter learned that she could not have any more children.
Kathleen was born for a purpose... the only purpose he damned himself
for. She was far better than to be his caregiver, and as much as he
wanted to tell her not to take on the task, he could not find the
strength to speak those words aloud.
* * * * *
pulled up a chair and sat next to her grandfather. The stars that they
had each studied while at school shone brightly above. She took his
hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. She hummed a tune that her
grandmother taught her, which she would sing to her husband to ease his
bad dreams. Kathleen hoped that her grandmother was watching.
Gramps turned his head towards Kathleen. His lips were partly opened,
dribbling saliva onto his nightshirt. Kathleen turned to meet him. She
always kept a towel nearby. She dried him and then stroked his cheek
lovingly. He would blink at her.
"You're welcome, Gramps," she
would reply. This was how they communicated. She had learned a new
language throughout their time together. It always gave her hope that
somewhere he was still close by. He turned back to look out the window.
sat in silence for a few minutes longer. She held her breath to listen
to him. His breathing became shallow. She turned and saw his face
covered in sweat again. Then she realized what was happening. He was
fighting... for her. Kathleen had begged him not to leave her alone,
but now she saw the agony in his face. She had not been ready to lose
her Gramps yet. After all these months, he was still fighting one more
battle -- this time for his granddaughter. She was prouder of him than
she had ever been... but she was also angry. Kathleen would have had to
slam her hand in a window to begin to cause herself as much pain as her
grandfather had been suffering. Some mornings she would find his jaw
locked, his teeth biting down hard. It would take all her strength to
pry his mouth open. Then, she would have to Transfigure a piece of
parchment into a rubber mold to keep his mouth open. Otherwise, he
would draw blood from his bite. She regretted doing this, but had no
There was no handbook on taking care of a person
afflicted with Alzheimers, no set course, and no previous
examples in her family. As all the books stated, it really was
different with each individual. However, for a small period of time,
she had done the impossible: she had made him learn again! He
began to speak briefly, feed himself and even express his thoughts more
clearly. She had done it with love and patience. Kathleen would play
songs on a piano and have him sing with her. Sometimes he would forget
the words, but held his own. On her nineteenth birthday he surprised
her by singing Happy Birthday. It was the greatest gift of
all... and he kept on giving. He gave Kathleen a few more months of his
life to spend together. He wanted to teach her one more lesson about
life, and she learned it brilliantly. She was now a woman who
understood better than most the difference between life and death.
Kathleen would be eternally grateful for what Gramps had done for her.
Gramps turned to face Kathleen once more. Tears rolled down his cheeks. She gently brushed them away, then leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
okay, Gramps. I'll be all right, I promise. Tell Gran I love her... I
miss her," she whispered. More tears flowed down his reddened cheeks.
"Gramps, I promise you with all my heart that I'll be fine. I have your
love for me in here and it will last throughout eternity and beyond.
It's okay. You need your rest. Go with Gran now. Go be with your
beloved once more."
He gave Kathleen a small smile and then
leaned in to meet her touch. Kathleen turned her body in the chair and
rested her forehead upon his. She wrapped her arms around him and
embraced him tightly. He smiled wider as he grew quiet, no longer
suffering anymore. "Thank you, Gramps. Thank you for my new life."
* * * * *
days later, he was celebrated. Memorials were given by family and
friends, the most emotional from her Great-Uncle Ron. He spoke fondly
of their adventures through childhood, and then of reaching the point
when they could sit on a porch and watch their grandchildren play in
the garden. Her great-uncle broke down in sobs when he spoke his final
"See you, mate."
Her Great-Aunt Hermione
wrapped her arms around her husband and walked him away when he refused
to leave the casket's side. Thousands came to pay their respects to
their hero. Others knew him as just another wizard, and Gramps was
thankful to them for treating him like a real person.
was thrilled by the turnout. Gramps had always preferred his privacy,
but she knew he would secretly be excited by the turnout as well.
by one they all departed after paying their final respects. Kathleen
was the last to stay behind. There was no turning back for her. She had
promised him that she would be all right, and intended to fulfill that
promise. She would use her grandfather's final lesson to become
successful in her later years, but for right now she only knew to shed
a few more tears before placing a lingering kiss upon the casket.
Kathleen turned and walked away, looking forward forever.
weeks later, Kathleen's sleep took her to her precious Hogwarts.
Standing before the lake, she could see her grandparents looking young
once more. They held each others' hands and watched their granddaughter
in return. "Thank you, my beautiful fairy," Gramps said. Gran blew her
a kiss and mouthed words of love. Harry and Ginny Potter then turned
and walked around the lake at Hogwarts one more time.
Kathleen opened her tear-filled eyes, smiled and looked upwards past the ceiling and into the heavens.
"I love you too."
This tale is dedicated to the lives and love of my grandparents, who
unselfishly taught me through their own horrific ordeals the lessons I
needed to prepare me for adulthood.
Magnolia Mama is
not only my beta, but more importantly my writing angel. She has become
my voice of clarity by identifying and piecing together those jumbled
thoughts I try to express. Thank you, thank you MM for everything!!!