The Call children, Melba, Bob, and Lois, my mother, spent many a delightful evening in Never, Never, Never Land, as it is always called in their treasured book, “The Picture Story Book of Peter Pan” by Sir J.M. Barrie. Their copy is illustrated with beautiful hand drawn colored pictures by Roy Best and was printed in 1931 by the Whitman Publishing Company.
This much loved book is now 90 years old and was tattered and torn from years of small hands lovingly turning its pages. Mom carefully shared it with us when we were growing up but was always afraid of permanently destroying the fragile pages. It was her dream to have it restored, but that never happened in her lifetime.
I’ve treasured this book since Mom passed away in 2004 and recently had it restored, in honor of her desire. The pages are still faded and fragile, but now we dare to open it, and Anne and I just finished reading it over zoom (COVID quarantine style) to Mom’s great-great-granddaughter, Rebecca, age 3.
As we shared the secrets of Never, Never, Never Land with Rebecca, I thought of Mom and her brother and sister lying in bed, looking forward to their mom (my Grandma Call) reading this book to them. I imagined the excitement of the story unfolding in their minds as they listened intensely. I pictured them feeling sorry for Peter Pan while he was looking for his lost shadow. I'm sure Mom and her siblings felt his pain and delight as Wendy sewed it back on his feet.
I’m certain the Call children gasped in horror when one of the Lost Boys, Tootles, mistook Wendy for a bird and shot her out of the sky with an arrow while she was flying with Peter to join them in Never, Never, Never Land. They must have exhaled a sigh of relief when they learned that she was going to be ok.
Surely, like all children, they cried when Tinker Bell swallowed the poisoned medicine that Captain Hook left for Peter and her fairy light began to dim as her life started to slip away. I can see these three little kids huddled close, listening as their mother revealed to them and all the children in the world that if they believed in fairies, they could save Tinker Bell by clapping long and loud. And it worked! Tinker Bell lived!
Drama, fear, and tension entered the bedroom when they heard that Wendy, her brothers, and all their friends were captured by Captain Hook and his Pirates and taken to their pirate ship to walk the plank. Oh, the cheers when Hook’s evil plot was foiled, by Peter Pan, of course, who came to their rescue, driving the evil Hook off the ship and into the waiting mouth of the Croc with the Clock.
Like children everywhere, I’m sure Mom and her siblings shed a tear as Peter waved a sad farewell to Wendy, her brothers and all the other Lost Boys who left Never, Never, Never Land to grow up with Mr. and Mrs. Darling. I myself even tear up at this point.
More important than even this treasured book is the time Mom and her siblings spent with their mother, reading and re-reading the story. Our children may or may not remember the stories we read to them, but they will remember the closeness and feelings of love in that special shared time when bedtime stories are read.
Happy Failing Forward,
Calvert and Anne
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