Category Archives: Joined at the Heart
We ate our sack lunch under Spaceship Earth. The geodesic dome, invented by Buckminster Fuller, is the symbol of Epcot. Ray Bradbury worked on the design. Two icons built another, so-to-speak. My kids dubbed it, God’s golf ball. The structure dwarfs everything–even at Disney.
That’s where I saw them.
The woman in a wheelchair vomited into a bag. The grown daughter hovered, holding her mother’s head. The son-in-law distracted the grandkids, a four-year old girl and her eight-year old brother.
I turned my head away. My own girls munched on Pringles. I didn’t say anything. No one wants to watch a person empty her stomach, especially during lunch. After a few minutes, a cast member supplied paper towels and a clean trash bag. All Disney employees are cast members, even those who don’t wear a plush animal head.
It was hot. Steamy. Miserable weather for a healthy person. The shade of the sphere wasn’t much help. I ate my sandwich and connected the woman to the others I’d seen. A little girl in a wheelchair, do-rag covering a bare scalp. A man with a portable oxygen tank. A younger mom driving an electric scooter with a preschooler on her lap. Some were accompanied by an entourage, but most looked like these people. A few family members attempting to cross Disney off a bucket list.
Years earlier, I sat in a salon chair. The man cutting my hair rambled.
“My niece has cancer.”
The guy wasn’t a friend. I’d never seen him before or since.
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Yeah. They did Disney already. While she still can. Make-a-Wish, you know.”
When my girls were small, I knew a mom with breast cancer. The last summer of her life, she managed a vacation to The Magic Kingdom with her two little ones. I hadn’t thought much about her until that moment at Epcot. As wonderful as this vacation was for my family, it was also hard work. Walt Disney World may be billed as The Happiest Place on Earth, but I couldn’t imagine a worse place to be sick. I looked back at the woman in the wheelchair, trying to be tough for her family. The daughter gathered their things. The son-in-law pushed the chair back toward the gate. I prayed a silent blessing for all of them.
And a thank you that we were healthy. I was reminded of something my mother said once. “You never know about the future. Be happy now.”
I’m not waiting to work on the bucket list.
**Several weeks ago, my family visited Walt Disney World and Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. I started blogging the trip, but after a few days of a less than stellar internet connection, I put the posts on hold. Now that we’re home, I’m alternating them with regular blog posts.
At Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure, better known as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we gawked at a snow-covered Hogsmead, glowing in the 90° Florida sun. The replication of the movie set was nothing short of amazing. Well, except for Ollivander’s Wand Shop. Every Potterphile knows Ollivander’s is in London’s Diagon Alley. A cast member informed us that Ollivander had a branch store in the Hogwarts outpost. You know. In case a student lost a wand or needed to repair a unicorn hair core. The girls nodded politely. Cherry, a walking Wikipedia of Potter-lore, bit her tongue and got in the queue. We weren’t sure what we were in line for, but after two days at Disney World, we’d learned not to evaluate. It’s better to charge ahead than to spend all day debating the ride.
When it was our turn, a cast member took forty of us into a dark room and shut the door. Minutes later, we were greeted by Ollivander.
Dirty, old, and according to Coco, “A little creepy.” Ollivander was a real man wearing a latex facial appendage and lit in a dim theatrical style, not a robotic Jack Sparrow like in the Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean.
We all know the scene. Heck. I can do it word-for-word. Harry’s experience in the wand shop. Ollivander looked over his audience before he walked up to Coco and asked her age.
“Twelve,” she said.
I couldn’t believe my ears.
“Perfect,” he said.
The first wand was made of oak with a phoenix feather core. Coco waved it and killed a potted plant.
The second was willow. Flexibly beautiful and oh-so-appropriate. Every audience member sighed. With a wave of Coco’s hand, the wind blew and thunder crashed.
“Put it down. Carefully.”
Then, came the famous line.
“I wonder . . .”
The winner was made of ash. The core, dragonheart string.
“Point the wand, and repeat after me. Lumos.”
A gentle light halo-ed all around.
Ollivander predicted Coco would be a great healer of the wizarding world. Then she was ushered through a door by the old geezer’s assistant, a little scary for Mom and Dad. We were reunited in the gift shop a few minutes later where we were informed we could buy the wand for $32.50.
Bacon forked over the cash, and more for a wand for Cherry–also made of ash, but with a phoenix feather core. Like Harry’s. What can I say? They had us at the door. The wand chooses the wizard.