Goodbye, Peter Pan

Suicide is never noble!

Let me repeat. Suicide. Is. Never. Noble. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever!

"Robin Williams 2011a (2)" by Eva Rinaldi → Flickr: Robin Williams - →This file has been extracted from another image: File:Robin Williams 2011a.jpg.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

The individual may be a supposedly devout Muslim and ardent follower of the radical Al-Qaeda who is perversely motivated by the promise of 72 virgins for dying a so-called martyr’s death.

Or the individual may be a celebrated comic, actor and all-around good guy as Robin Williams appears to have been.

Whatever the person’s status, religious conviction or seemingly hopeless conditions might be, not one of these reasons (in my view) justifies self-murder. And I say it again for emphasis:  No death by suicide should be considered a noble act … ever!

Am I being harsh? I don’t think so. I’ve posted about suicide before (here, here, here, among others). My thoughts on the subject should be clear to anyone who reads those posts. Most people who know me would probably agree I’m compassionate and have a deep well of empathy. But I’m also acutely pragmatic. Continue reading “Goodbye, Peter Pan”

Wendy Grows Up

"Peter pan 1911 pipes" by Francis Donkin Bedford (1864–1954)
“Peter pan 1911 pipes” by Francis Donkin Bedford (1864–1954)

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, J. M. Barrie’s fictional creation of Neverland and his story of Peter Pan has fascinated me since childhood. Between the time when my sister Nadja died (previous post here) and the birth of my younger sister Tamara (previous post here), our family resembled the Darlings (except I was second, fictional Wendy Darling had been born first). In our case, my family included older son Eric, daughter (me) and younger son Kevin. We slept upstairs in slant-ceilinged little rooms away from our parents’ space.

The sudden appearance at the windowsill of a boy who could fly and a fairy “no longer than your hand, but still growing” would have been an exciting scenario for the three of us! Becoming friends with a boy who’d lost his shadow might have puzzled us at first, but we’d have figured it out quickly enough.

Though I’d never have counted myself with the Lost Boys of Never-Neverland, in my younger years I well remember times when I wished fervently that I’d never grow up. The press of adult decisions and responsibilities seemed overwhelming and scary. I knew once I’d completely traversed the threshold of adulthood, my decisions were my own … for better or worse. Tell me that’s not sobering!

Over my lifetime, I’ve realized how significant imagination is to the proper formation of our adult personalities. There’s a terrific book by Professor Anthony Esolen called Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. Whether read by a parent of small children or an older parent (like me), this book provides helpful insight about imagination. Another book, Tending the Heart of Virtue by Vigen Guroian, is subtitled How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination. An older book (1998), this one is well worth close study and reflection. Continue reading “Wendy Grows Up”

Two Is The Beginning

Tomorrow, we will celebrate our first-born child’s 40th birthday. It seems almost impossible to imagine that fact is reality, but there’s no denying it … nor the corollary − that her daddy is considerably past his 40th birthday! (Okay, if I must admit it, me too.) How, I ask myself, is this possible?

I posted a poem here about my early days mothering this beautiful, strong-willed child. She was born in Dallas, a Texan through and through. Because I carried my babies longer than most, she was delivered on May 31 … my due date was May 12. (Back then, inducing was rare.) She weighed a hefty 10 pounds, 8 ounces! Like most parents, she gave us plenty of moments when we puffed out our chests with pride … and likewise, there were the troubling moments with many tears shed and serious questions about how her future would turn out.Mandy

We should not have doubted or worried. Today, she is a lovely and poised woman, wife to a fine man and mother to four living children. (I posted here about her child who died in utero.) She is a business woman in process of starting her own company. (Without being too cryptic, I’ll one day share more about her. I suspect the details will offer comfort and hope to other parents.)

Ah, she’s all grown up now!

Author J. M. Barrie‘s story of Peter Pan resonates with me, in part I think, because my parents took my brothers and me to the summertime outdoor opera (St. Louis Municipal Opera) that presented the story. (Years later, it was shown on tv many times.) Though we attended other productions, Peter Pan was my personal favorite.

Two songs from the production seemed to be written just for me:  I Won’t Grow Up and I’m Flying. Both songs stroked my imagination with the defiant possibility of approaching reality in a completely unconventional way. (Watching a female in the title role … Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, Cathy Rigby … didn’t hurt either. Their performances facilitated my ability to identify with them. A deep, bellowing voice would never have been believable to me.) If anyone is inclined to take a stroll down memory lane, there’s a YouTube video running the entire 1960 production, starring Mary Martin.

Alas, Peter Pan was the only child who didn’t grow up. Wendy and Peter and John, me and my Beloved and our offspring eventually grew into adulthood. There’s a passage in the book where Barrie notes:

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.” 

I don’t remember having that realization when I was two (late bloomer?). I’m not even sure I realized it the day I married. But when my delightful eldest daughter was born, I suddenly knew I must grow up. And now, in like fashion, my daughter has done the same.