Prayers, please, for Don Holmes

Soon after Zossima Press published the first edition of Hidden Key to Harry Potter, I received a call from a man in Bellingham, Washington, about the book. This man, Don Holmes, was a retired Christian book distributor for stores throughout the Northwest US and western Canada. He still delivered books “across the border” once a month though he was in his seventies so he could visit with friends in those stores. One of the books these courtesy drives brought to his attention was Hidden Key. My email and street addresses were in the book so he looked me up. Bellingham is only a ferry ride and short drive from where we lived on the Olympic Peninsula.

Don loved that book and made it a point to share it with his many friends in Bellingham and across the country. A disproportionate number of my bookstore speaking dates were in Bellingham because Don could sell ice to an eskimo with his enthusiasm. We frequently spoke on the phone between my visits up there and his trips to see my clan in Irondale and we exchanged email posts almost daily. One of the sadder things about leaving Washington was that it meant we wouldn’t be seeing our septuagenarian friend as often. His kindness and obvious concern for me, my wife, and family made him the best of friends.

I should note that Don and I looked funny together. He is a giant of a man who told me that his years at Wheaton College were mostly about playing basketball. One of my cadets the other day, in contrast, asked me quite seriously if I were a “certifiable midget.” Don is easily “twice the man” I am and we both enjoyed noting the number of people who looked twice at us when we walked by, usually in animated conversation about C. S. Lewis. Don knew everything Lewis wrote, I think, almost by heart (he even corresponded with Lewis when he was in college; basketball flunkie, my eye) and never tired of hearing my take, critical and laudatory, of Lewis stories. The alchemy in the Ransom trilogy excited him no end.

I don’t know how many times I was “down” that Don lifted me up. No one I know has been as gentle, so good a listener, and such an edifying example of what “walking the talk” of a disciple of Christ is about. Don Holmes, gentle giant, is a giant in heart, too.

It was sad to read, then, that he was paralyzed two weeks ago while cutting branches off a dead tree on his property. He has all his mental faculties, praise God, semi-miraculously, but he has only the use of his arms and upper chest. Suzanne, one of his daughters, created a weblog so his many friends had a central spot to go to find news about him. She posted his email address at the hospital, too, which is a great thing. I’m off to drop him a line now.

I confess to having been bewildered by this news. Don has a wonderful wife, Barbara, whose faith, if anything is deeper and stronger than Don’s. I hope, if you are a person who prays, that you will include Don and Barbara Holmes in your prayers. Sometimes it is how the Lord prepares us for death that is “the next great adventure.” His friends rejoice that he survived this accident and we pray that his recovery and “rehab” work go well.

Speak Your Mind