I’ve never been a big fan of audio books. I remember being in middle school and getting ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ on cassette because it was on my required reading list for that year. I listened to it in my bedroom while I put clothes away, organized my plastic ponies and laid on my bed — staring at the ceiling.
I hadn’t listened to an audio book since.
But last week I had to take the closest thing a journalist gets to a business trip. I drove twelve hours in two days to interview people for a story. And during that drive, after I listened to all my burned CDs from high school and couldn’t find any more radio stations as I drove west through Pennsylvania, I pulled out an audio book I selected from Martin Library.
I’m a pretty big fan of Mitch Albom. But while I was gazing through the shelves of books on CD, I saw one of his that I had yet to read: “For One More Day.”
My boyfriend warned me that I better not be distracted by the book while I was driving by myself. I promised I wouldn’t. I broke that promise.
Several hours into my trip and I broke into tears. Thanks, Mitch.
And once I reached my destination, a hotel in the middle-of-no-where, or better yet, Meadville, I had to call my mother to tell her I loved her.
This is why:
Charley is a divorcee with a failed baseball career and a daughter who recently got married, but didn’t invite him. When it seems there is nothing left to live for, Charley decides to end it all. He gets drunk. He grabs his gun. He gets in his car to drive to the home he grew up in.
But on the way to Pebble Beach, in a mad rush to return to his mother’s empty home — she died eight years ago — Charley crashes into a truck and then a billboard. Surprisingly, he’s OK. At least OK enough to walk to his mother’s home.
But when he goes inside, it isn’t empty. There’s food in the refrigerator and he hears the voice of a woman coming from upstairs. It’s his mother.
She bandages his cuts, makes him breakfast and spends the rest of the day with Charley, as she goes to homes of neighboring elderly women to do their hair and make-up. But a voice keeps invading Charley’s day with his mother. It interrupts her stories. It pulls him away from the table when she is telling Charley about his family tree. It blares through the phone. It comes from the front door.
He remembers all the times his mother stood up for him. And all the times he failed to defend her — especially from his father.
And in the end, the voice brings him back to the reality of the crash. He is lying in a field beside his vehicle. He barely survived.
The “ghost story,” as Mitch calls it, changes Charley’s life. He tries to reconnect with his daughter. He makes amends with his ex-wife. He tries to be remembered for who he is after the crash — not the drunk he was before.
And then he dies — barely in his 50s.
His daughter confirmed all his stories. Maybe it was ghost. Maybe it was a dream. But all he needed was one more day to turn his life around.