Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Peter Pan Story


I was about 5 or 6 years old when my paternal grandfather passed away… he wasn't that old, maybe 58 or 59. I really didn't understand at that time that I would NEVER see Pop again. At his wake (my Dad was Jewish through his mother, not his dad), I had no idea what was going on – and I snuck into the room at my aunt's house where the coffin was, climbed up on a chair, and tried to wake my grandfather. I was shaking him in the open coffin when it was discovered where I was. My aunt scolded me and stopped suddenly; I saw tears in her eyes. My parents took turns holding me and explained that Pop wasn't going to wake up.


I wasn't allowed to go to the funeral, I think a neighbor watched my sister and me. My sister (5 years older) gently tried to explain about death and its finality, I think I began to catch on. But when my parents came home, I saw Daddy crying – I didn't think that fathers ever cried. That's when the explanations my sister tried to tell me really hit me… and I was terrified.


Daddy wiped his tears, held me, and asked why I was so scared. I told him in my own juvenile way that I realized that growing up meant that our parents would die. I knew that my Mom's father had died long before I was born (I'm named for him) and that reinforced my terror. I cried long and hard on my Dad's shoulder while he tried to comfort me. I kept on yelling that I didn't want to ever grow up.


Daddy hugged me, his arms were always so strong and safe, and he asked me if my name was Peter Pan. I stopped crying and looked at him, I had no idea who Peter Pan was. He told me that Peter Pan was the boy who never wanted to grow up. I told Daddy that I agreed. He chuckled.


We sat in his chair, he put me on his lap, and he told me, it's true, as we get older, we often lose those who are older than us. Daddy said that's the way it's supposed to be, and then he told me that even though losing people sometimes hurt, he would never change a thing because growing up also meant that you would meet new people and have families of your own. Daddy said that if he and Mommy hadn't grown up they never would have met, and they never would have had "the most beautiful daughters" in the world. And he told me that even though he and Mommy would one day leave this earth, he knew that we would both find others to love and maybe even have our own beautiful children.


Daddy died a little more than 17-years after he lost his own dad. My sister had already married and had a son, a grandson who was the pride and joy of both of my parents. I had also gotten married to a man I loved so much. Mommy and Daddy were thrilled with both of their daughters and the "sons" we had brought them. During the days after he passed, I heard Daddy's voice, ACTUALLY HEARD IT, telling me that he was glad I had decided not to be Peter Pan and he was excited about the life I would live.


Although my husband and I lost all 4 of our parents just a few years after our marriage, I still feel blessed. Today, more than 46 years after marrying the love of my life, we have two beautiful grown children, a daughter and son, and two wonderful in-law children. We've had adventures and many joys. My sister and her husband had a second son, two daughters-in-law, and 4 grandchildren… and their first GREAT grandchild was born shortly before my sister died.


We grew up, and just as Daddy told me, I wouldn't change a thing. I am so glad I wasn't Peter Pan.


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