Peter Pan. Peter Pan. Peter Pan.
(I’m trying frantically to get my act together for two upcoming trips, so other than writing about peanut butter and the great peanut recall, this comes closer to Peter Pan.)
Father Time Is My Peer
My past caught up with my future today. Like the ghosts of Christmas Past and Future in Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” shades of the future yanked my head around, looked me square in the eyes, and got my attention. All around me were devices that portended an ominous future, devices that threatened to one day become necessities.
Walkers, wheelchairs, oxygen bottles, and dialysis equipment whispered nasty little threats. Extra-wide doors mocked my energetic steps down the hallway. “Someday,” they seemed to say, “Some day you’ll pass though here.” I ignored their innuendos, shook my head at the wheelchair that intimated it had my name on it.
I strolled down the corridor of the Anchorage Pioneer’s Home, losing myself in the black and white enlarged photographs of Anchorage in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. My time, the time of my youth when I lived in this frontier city. A picture of Fourth Avenue, the main drag, with Hewitt’s Drug Store, the Hofbrau, Koslosky’s Men’s Store, and the dozens of little shops and bars beyond. To a friend with me, I spoke of Saturday afternoons and chocolate sodas with a friend at Hewitt’s. To others I told of an eerie walk through Koslosky’s after the great 1964 earthquake ravaged this block.
My body was in the corridor of this senior retirement home, but the rest of me was in 1960. That was the year I graduated from Anchorage High School. With me in the hallway were several members of that graduating class. We were there to visit with yet another classmate, Freddie, who had recently moved into the Pioneer’s Home after a stroke left her confined to a wheelchair. This visit was Judy’s idea. Judy is the one who has organized our class reunions every five years, who keeps track of us and our phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Judy brought Christmas to Freddie today. Along with four of us other classmates, she had homemade fudge, a lovely pastel hummingbird and iris figurine, and a jovial Santa who rocked his rocking chair at break-neck speed. We followed Freddie to the fifth floor dining hall where the noon meal was about to be served and gathered chairs to sit with her at her assigned table.
A gentleman seated next to her introduced himself as Meryl, and with a shy, abashed smile said, “We’re engaged.” He told of meeting Freddie a year ago when they both were in a local hospital. At the time he lived in Haines, many road miles away from Anchorage.
“Every time I went back to Haines, they’d have to medivac me back to Anchorage, so I figured I may as well move here,” he said. He cut up Freddie’s piece of luncheon chicken, helped her readjust her position in her wheelchair, and teasingly pulled her gently back and forth. He said the wedding date was up to Freddie. She blushed as she smiled, and began to laugh deep, happy laughs, laughs that didn’t want to end.
I saw silent communication between the two of them, how he watched over her and anticipated her needs, and the easy familiarity of a couple in love.
Suddenly a long line of schoolchildren, all dressed up in black and white, entered stage left and lined up in rows according to height in front of the piano. Their director, in a tux with tails, introduced them as the Williwaw chorus from Williwaw school. As they sang several holiday songs for the elders, I looked at the aged faces of the residents of the home, and thought I could see young minds savoring priceless memories.
My eyes were drawn to the view across Cook Inlet, to a snow-mantled Mt. Susitna, the Sleeping Lady, who waits in legend for her warrior lover to return. Across the gray silty water, the mountain profile suggests a woman supine, long tresses stretched out as she sleeps.
Below, along the sidewalks and in yards, spruce and birch trees were garbed in hoarfrost, while patches of gray ice fog hovered nearby. An image from 1965, as clear as if it were before my eyes that instant, came to mind. I’d lived near here and took this street to work every morning. The temperatures had been cold for many days and hoarfrost was thick on everything. As I drove, the sun was attempting to rise above the Chugach Mountains to the east. The early light turned the clouds of ice fog to pink and gold against an impossibly blue sky. I was late for work that morning, resented having to go in at all. I wanted to stand in the fierce cold and watch the sun come up, watch the colors transition.
The subject of the Pioneer’s of Alaska came up, whether or not we were members. To be eligible, one has to have lived in Alaska for at least thirty years. We all were long past that, but several of us said we refused to apply until they allowed women to join the Pioneer’s instead of the auxiliary. The membership rules had changed not long ago, and we all planned to join now. I thought about that for a while, and wondered if it weren’t that spark of independence and defiance and self-sufficiency, traits gleaned from our common experience of having been raised in this harsh, demanding land, that bonded us today.
We left the home and gathered in a coffee shop a few miles away. Seated there, surrounded by patrons working on laptops, huge bags of coffee beans, oak tables, and blackboard menus listing coffee drinks never imagined five decades ago, we spoke of how much our city had changed. We talked of the Oyster Loaf and Westward Hotel coffee shops, the latest news of classmates who have moved away, of iconic buildings in this town that are in danger of demolition. We laughed about long-ago crushes on sweet high school boys who had yet to find their true sexual identities. We wondered if classes from other schools were as bonded as we were.
We joked about reserving a wing of the Pioneer’s Home for our whole class, and turning it into the I Street Party House. I spoke of a TIA–a mini stroke–that I had last year. When asked how it affected me, I responded, “It gave me my first hint that I might not be bulletproof.”
She laughed and said, “You might be bulletproof, but you aren’t stroke-proof.”
Beneath it all, all the laughter and stories and uproarious confessions amid the comforting aroma of coffee on a cold winter day, were the images of wheelchairs and walkers. The day had humbled us. I felt honored to have been asked to participate. We are all newbies in the Age of Medicare now.
Some of our classmates are gone, felled by accident or disease. Those of us who gathered today are healthy and energetic; our medical needs mere inconveniences in the grand scheme of things. We are the fortunate today but we are not unaware of what might lie ahead. We make decisions based more on today and tomorrow rather than next year and the next. Our long range planning isn’t so long range anymore. We are well aware that father time is now a peer.
I am whittling down my possessions, remembering how my mother had done the same, leaving little work for her children after she passed away. I am thinning and reorganizing my files, recalling how her paperwork was all in order. I clean out closets and drawers and storage spaces, setting aside those things I know I’ll never use again.
I kept the snorkel gear, bicycle, kayak, cross country skis, hiking boots, and camping equipment. I hung the day-glo-orange safety vest on a hook in the garage, near the new case of yellow litter bags. Come spring I’ll know right where they are and can start cleaning up highway litter again.
On the wall above my computer is a plaque sent to me last year by dear friends. It’s right where I can see it every day. It reads: “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming ‘WOOOO-HOOOO! What a ride!’”
As I left the Pioneer Home today, I saw two wheelchairs flanking the elevator shaft.
“Buzz off, you guys,” I said to the wheeled contraptions. “If I need a wheelchair one day, you’d better have a seat belt and roll bar on it.”
Peter Pan. Peter Pan. Peter Pan.
Huh. They must have updated the story since I was a youngster or my eyes are going bad. Peter seems to have evolved into triplets.
I’m trying to recall the story of Peter Pan. I remember Tinkerbell and the Darling family, Captain Hook, the family dog and that’s about it. I can see Peter Pan and the children holding hands as they fly out the bedroom window.
I can picture Captain Hook with his big hat with the feather, his pantaloons, buckled boots, ruffled shirt and jacket, moustache and sword, oh, and the patch over his eye. Oh, and didn’t he have a peg in place of one leg? Was there a crocodile or alligator involved? Maybe that’s how Captain Hook lost his foot, to the crocodile or alligator.
Did somebody say “Shiver me timbers?” Was that a parrot?
I find myself remembering parts of Pinnochio and mixing them in with Peter Pan. The boys turning into donkeys was in Pinnochio, I think.
I can’t remember where Peter Pan took the children when they flew away with him and I don’t know what purpose Tinkerbell had either. I don’t even remember whether Peter was a good guy or a bad guy.
Oh, some more is coming back to me. The Land of the Lost Boys. Were boys who only wanted to play taken there? Shoot. I’m hitting a wall again.
Is or was there a Peter Pan Peanut Butter on the market? I’ve been automatically buying creamy style Jif for the past forty years, not noticing what else is on the shelf. (Once in a while I’ll grab a jar of the healthy kind but it just doesn’t hit the spot).
Well, Ann, I get dibs on the stool in the corner under the dunce cap for this GA session. Unless I can find the story somewhere, that’s the best I can do. No other lights are coming on for me regarding the little fellow. I’m not sure of what road to take with your three Peter Pans prompt. Try saying Peter Pan three times as fast as you can. I feel like a fish out of water when I try.
Huh. I guess your prompt promptly prompted me after all.
Shaddy, Shaddy. Peter Pan was the boy who never wanted to grow up and lived in Neverland with the Lost Boys. And yes, he was the good guy. He took the Darling children to Neverland. Cap’n. Hook also had lost a hand–thus the Cap’n. Hook moniker. Smee was his….whatever. Just Google it. Johnny Depp starred in a recent movie about J.M. Barrie–the guy who wrote the Peter Pan story. Visit your local Blockbuster today, Shaddy.
When I was little, a program would come on television once in awhile. Peter Pan. The old one with Mary Martin playing Peter Pan. It was magic to me. I don’t think I breathed through the entire movie. I remember Mary Martin’s voice–an echo-ey sounding voice. I can still hear her as if I had just watched it last night. And I can see Tinkerbell darting across the children’s bedroom, lighting up wherever he landed. And then when the children climbed up onto the window ledge and took off through the night sky, well, I just felt like I could too. And I wanted to so much. Just sprinkle the magic dust on me and let me fly away. To Neverland. After the movie was over, I would lie in my bed and could not go to sleep. I would watch the walls, hoping Tinkerbell would show up. I would stare at the window, just in case Peter Pan landed. For days after, I, along with my sister and friend, would march up and down the road, singing as loud as I could, “I Won’t Grow Up”. Thing is, I did grow up. But I will tell you, a small part of me didn’t. And never will. It’s in that small part of me that still sees the light flitting across the wall and still believes one day, I might fly.
I believe you have taken the prompt in the direction it was intended to steer us.
We need to keep part of us childlike or we’d dry up and blow away. So please protect that small part that keeps you forever young.
It was the night she had dream of since her childhood, her wedding night. After they checked into their hotel room she said, “Darling, why don’t you run downstairs and get us a bottle of champagne while I get ready for bed.”
He hurried out the door and punched the button for the elevator, visions of different silk garments going through his mind. He hoped for stockings and garter belts and not much more.
Meanwhile she covered herself in what she thought would make him happy and posed herself in bed, waiting on him and the champagne. He opened the door and in the dim light he could see her on the bed.
“What the hell do you have all over you?” he said in disbelief.
“I thought you’d like this, after all your mother said Peter Pan peanut butter and syrup was your favorite sandwich.”
Only you could come up with a story like that in response to the Peter Pan prompt. Mrs. Walk’s life must be very interesting.
FYI. If you go to Walk’s blog, you’ll find a funny story about telemarketers. He’s got a winner in that one.
I’m using my new (first ever ) laptop for the first time. Wow. It’s pretty cool but will take some getting used to. I’ll be back after I get more acclimated.
With two broken legs and one arm in a cast, George had a hard time doing what most people take for granted. For instance, flipping channels with the remote made him really thirsty, so he drink two large glasses of tea. A little while later he realized that wasn’t such a good idea as now he had to recycle that tea.
He called his wife and she started pushing him down the hall. About halfway to the bathroom he yell, “I ain’t gonna make it, there she blows.”
His wife grabbed the bedpan and threw it at him yelling, “Peter Pan. Peter Pan. Peter Pan.”
And that’s why they are redecorating the hallway. Now you know the rest of the story.
We are like little fish in a pond, swimming round and round by the edge, waiting for that human to throw out the bread crumbs. We gobble it up and wait for more. This time, we thought we might be getting a little peanut butter on our bread, but no, only bread. Oh how we wish that human who feeds us here would jump into the pond with us and write her thoughts on Peter Pan. Peter Pan. Peter Pan. I mean, it is her pond.
Wow. I was having a hard time with this GA prompt. All I could think of was Julie Andrews. Was she ever Peter Pan?
You all have come up with such unique (and, in some cases, a bit disturbing) thoughts on Peter Pan. Walk, you win ugh-factor prize in my book. I mean, honestly, where are your manners? Peanut butter and syrup should never be served with Champagne. How gauche. *just teasing!*
So, faced with your creative posts, I struggled to come up with something interesting and unique. Finally, the drive home from “the workplace” came to my rescue for there, beside me, also stuck in slow moving traffic, was inspiration:
In my neck of the woods there’s a bus line called Peter Pan. I Googled it and learned that the company was founded by Peter Picknelly in 1933.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve traveled side-by-side with Peter Pan but have never really thought about the name. Once I let my mind wander a bit, I remembered the Peter Pan motor coach tours visiting the tourist attractions in my home town in the Maritimes (Atlantic Canada).
The American passengers disembarked the Peter Pan buses and trooped through the General Store Museum where those of us charged with the task of “shopkeepers” sported our Loyalist-period costumes. We maintained our friendly smiles despite the fact that the busses changed but the questions were always the same: Is this a real store? Where’s the bathroom? Where can we see the igloos?
Regardless of the abundance of repetitive questions, I loved my job with the Tourism Department. Small fractions of the world passed by every day, I thought of it as “stationary traveling” – I stood still as people from all parts of Canada, the US, and Europe filtered by and gave me a small taste of different cultures, languages and ideas.
I cherished the people I worked with. My coworkers were from all walks of life: students, retired professionals, artists, musicians. Some were experts in history. Others were experts in conducting walking and bus tours. There were vegetarians, gays, Anglophones, Francophones, men, women. All were accepted and everyone contributed. Our common thread was the love of our hometown and a passion for helping people.
Ironically, it was my Tourism job that ultimately motivated me to learn French, leave my hometown for new adventures in Quebec City, and to eventually settle in the USA.
Every morning, while I am getting ready for work, I still think of those days in Tourism and wish I could go back to that relaxed camaraderie of the museum. But, alas, I have grown up and left Neverland behind. I’ll return one day, when the time is right, but for now, I’ll never look at a Peter Pan bus in the same way.
I love what you’ve written re: Peter Pan. What a wonderful job that was! “Stationary traveling,” what an inexpensive and opportune way to see the world.
Peter Pan, Peter Pan, Peter Pan.
Teach me to fly.
I fly in my dreams, surprised to notice
how very easy it is.
Warm air supports me, pressing on my heart,
pushing up my middle so I can soar.
I bank and roll, land gently on a green meadow,
smug and sure. Nothing to it.
No crocodiles lurk.
The ground is kind of spongy,
sucking at one ankle and then the other.
I yank them out and try to run
The man with the hook is gaining on me
and my legs will not move the way they should.
I trip. I’m falling off a cliff.
My stomach plunges, trying to find solid ground
through far too much air.
Peter Pan, Peter Pan! Teach me to fly!
I wake myself up moaning, sweating.
This is our good bed. There’s John.
I’m okay. The radio comes on and I hit snooze.
Today the next forty-seven things on my list must get done
or the crocodiles might start a slow nibble, working their way up.
Old man death might show up and yank one of us with his hook
as the time ticks away.
Oh Peter, Peter Pan, second star on the right,
Teach me to fly.
I guess you showed us how to write of Peter Pan. I wish I’d done that!
Yip, I think I need to take Bww over again.
Yay! We’re flying!
Guess that’s why she’s the instructor and we’re kneeling at her feet.
Guess what, guys? Here;s a long story in one sentence, or, How I’ve Spent My Week:
I came to Anchorage to have my butt checked and wound up in the emergency room having my head examined.
Well Gullible, you really are gullible, aren’t you? Anyone who gets in their car, drives to another town, walks in a building and requests to have their butt checked (by complete strangers) needs to have their head examined. Just kidding. I suppose everyone should have their bu…, er, I mean, head examined from time to time.
I sympathize with Gully but your comment is priceless, KathyH. It sounds like something she’d say. She’s gonna love it.
She should be back home today. She’s pretty tired after all her doctoring but she’ll drag herself to her computer, we can count on that.
Oh, yeah. Now I remember! The crocodile ticked, didn’t he? He swallowed a clock or something, right?
Hmmm. I see a connection between GA-12 and GA-15. And GA-14 for that matter (if I stretch a bit). And GA-13, too.
That sounds right. I just remember bits and pieces but I hadn’t recalled that until you mentioned it.
What connection do you see between our GA sessions?
What connection? A bunch of nonsense.
Peter Pan, Peter Pan, Peter Pan is taking me away. Headed to Mom’s house tomorrow morning. Get to eat Mom’s cookin’, yum yum.
Lon and I are leaving tomorrow with our trailer to camp at a state park not far from here. If Peter Pan can fly us there we would save money on gas. I hope he’s bulked up since I last saw him. He’d have quite a load to get off the ground.
Enjoy the eats at your Mom’s walk. May the rest of you enjoy your weekend as well. See you on the other side.
You all have a great time on your weekend getaways.
As for the connection, just seeing threads of contemplating aging, dying, and our legacy in all of them. Interesting. (trying to be deep here.) *wink*
You are the only people on the face of the earth who will understand why I yelled “hellooow!” and waved frantically at the Peter Pan bus on the other side of the highway when I was driving home yesterday. Imagine what the people in the bus thought.
I wondered who that woman was. She cheered me right up!
Zelda: isn’t it nice to be among a select group of individuals who understand each other so well?
Imagine telling a “civilian” that you now have a fondness for all things Peter Pan, or poetry comes from gibberish (See GA-3), or the reason you’re down today is that your left brain is ascendant.
Hee hee hee… Can anyone here guess why it took me until age 67 and a half to realize I’ve been misspelling cathartic?
Oh. No fair. I didn’t give you all the information. I’ve been spelling it “catharctic.”
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by Ann Linquist
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