When I was a little boy, I used to think life would be forever. Adults would always be adults; and children would always be children.
I thought that any pet I might be fortunate enough to have, no matter what species, would always be there as a friend and companion.
I thought every child in the world could speak English and had to go to bed at the exact same time, but adults had to stay up long after it became dark.
I honestly believed a cow could jump over the moon, and the moon was made of cheese. I also believed if a tiger ran around a tree long enough, it would turn into melted butter.
I believed in the tooth fairy too. But I could never understand why she wanted kids’ teeth, and I wondered what she did with them. Santa Claus was to be looked forward to, but also feared because he was the father of mystery. Goblins only came out on Halloween.
I believed that one day I would be big enough to save all the turkeys at Thanksgiving.
A penny was a marvellous adventure, and a nickel was the greatest gift in the world, if I was allowed to spend it!
Cowboys of the silver screen became babysitters on Saturday afternoons. Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes were more real than my sister; and their horses far smarter than my older brother.
Everything was so large then. Snowbanks were larger, rooms were larger, and adults were larger than life.
Imagination was king, and a little boy could be anything he wanted to be: a pirate, a soldier, an Indian, a cowboy, an explorer or even Tarzan.
Little girls played with dolls. But they weren’t just dolls. They were real children to children who pretended to be mothers.
Fairy tales were real. Pinocchio was a puppet and, yet, he was a real boy too! Dogs could talk and stuffed toys told of undreamed adventures. Lead soldiers could win wars and even come back to life after being killed, if you wanted them to.
It was a world within the world made of sugar and ice cream, “may I,” and tag.
Now, these many years later, I often go back there to visit. Just an old man seated on the bench of memory in a long ago time when little boys’ feet smelled and their noses ran.
I play with the shadows, and giggle when I hide, waiting to be found.
Nothing was impossible there.
It was a land of giants and a land of rules and a land of enchantment; a place that would never end and I would never have to leave it. Things would always remain the same.
But then truth and reality coaxed me away from that land; and I crossed the sea to the land of endeavour and determination.
Now, as I await even another land, I hear the call of that first life. The season of the child, the spring of boyhood, the place where worry was held by adults and play was the treasure of children. A place that still calls when my mind and heart take time to listen.
Oh, indeed, being a child was a fantasy that insisted on being real, and imagination was a constant companion that stayed close 24 hours a day.
It was a time when weeds grew with the flowers and only adults were aware of it. We kids were too busy believing we would always be kids to take notice of or count the years.
And then one day, we left that field to scale the mountains that surrounded us. And the mountains took us farther and farther away from the valley. Until we wondered and wonder still, was that valley real or did we only imagine it?
Now, from the mountain peaks, we look down searching for the valley. And the lyrics of songwriters whisper to us:
“Where have all the flowers gone? The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.”
Indeed, it is!
AUGUST 2009 SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER
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