Monday, January 21, 2019

My Life With Comic Books: A History of a Comic Shop Part # 211

A brief introduction:

My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over thirty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it.

The Current Cast of Characters:

Paul Howley: age 48

Mal Howley: age 49

Adam Howley: my son, age 21

Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 18


   We were now living in a new place where we basically didn’t know anyone. We tried to meet people at common areas like grocery stores, shopping malls, churches, etc. The people we met would ask, “What brought you to Florida?” We’d reply, “We followed our daughter down here while she attends college.” Usually, they’d follow-up with something along the lines of, “Oh, do you have any other children?” I’d quickly glance at Mal to determine if I should say that “We HAD two children but one died in a car accident?” The problem with this is that it usually evokes a sadness and pity from the person you just told and that makes things awkward very quickly. If we say, “No, we only have one child” it lessens the importance of Adam as an integral part of our family. If I sensed that we weren’t trying to establish an ongoing relationship with this person, I’d frequently opt for not mentioning our son. I always felt terrible doing this but I didn’t want to upset these people.

   Here are other things that were now part of our new “normal”…

   Not sleeping very well because a hundred “what ifs” and “why didn’t I’s” go through your head.

   Reliving that day continuously.

   Having the TV on the minute we wake up to have noise because sometimes the silence could be overwhelming.

   The difficulty of deciding how to honor Adam’s memory, his birthday, and the anniversary of his death and just try to survive these days. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are sad too.

   Seeing so many of Adam’s friends growing, maturing and entering exciting new phases of their lives like marriage and kids and wondering what Adam would be like now. Then, realizing that it doesn’t matter.

   The new normal is disliking bodies being referred to as cadavers when you know they were once someone’s loved one.

   The new normal is having people afraid to mention Adam. It’s also making sure that others remember him.

   Normal is how almost every happy event in our lives now has a sadness because Adam isn’t here.

   Normal is now wanting to plead with parents to stop screaming at their kids.  

   Normal is having difficulty listening to people compare anything in their life to our loss unless they have lost a child. Even if your child is thousands of miles away from you, it doesn’t compare.

   The new normal is now being able to relate to other grieving parents, crying and talking together over our lost kids and our new lives without them.

   I know that everyone in this life has awful stuff they’re trying to live with and I do try to be sympathetic because for them, whatever situation they’re going through may be the worst thing they’ve ever experienced.

   These are some of the things we were dealing with back in 2002 and many of them still apply today (fifteen years later!).

   Eventually, we met some very special people who became great friends...(more on that soon.)

Next chapter: Florida weather.