There are times when almost all the important things in life can be explained by a turtle.
I’m not referring to the turtles that sun themselves on the pond at Brukner Nature Center or famous turtles like Yertle or the Mock Turtle or even the gigantic turtles that swim around in the ocean. I’m talking about a turtle with a yellow shell, white sailor’s hat and blue feet.
I guess I should start at the beginning.
Many years ago when our daughter was a little girl someone gave her a Fisher-Price pull along turtle. He’s a little plastic thing with a plastic cord tied on the end and legs that turn when you pull him along. She loved that turtle. He took walks with her around the neighborhood, bumped down more than a few flights of stairs and was dragged across the lawn countless times.
Then, of course, our daughter grew up. She moved on to other things and the turtle was stored away. Our daughter got married, moved away and started a family of her own. The turtle was pretty much forgotten.
Once our children moved away, we packed up all their toys and stored them in the basement. The turtle went along with the Legos and the My Little Ponies and Candyland and Chutes and Ladders, all biding their time and waiting to be discovered again.
Earlier this year, our daughter and her family were visiting from out of town. She and her husband now have two children, a boy who is 5 and a girl who is almost 3. They think our basement is just about the greatest place in the universe, except when they run into a stray spider.
While they were here our granddaughter was digging around in the toys and she suddenly stopped. She reached into a box and with a big smile on her face pulled out … the turtle.
There must have been some kind of mystical bond that reached across time from when her mother was two years old. Our granddaughter immediately latched onto the turtle and wouldn’t let go. While she was here, it went with her to the park and even to bed at night. It’s a hard plastic turtle, hardly something you would want to cuddle up to, but she slept with it anyway.
When it was time to leave, we made sure the turtle was in her suitcase. It made the trip back to Denver and we were informed the turtle was now a fixture in our granddaughter’s bed.
Recently, we made a trip to Denver to see our grandchildren – well, and their parents, too. Soon after we arrived, our granddaughter ran upstairs then came back down, dragging the turtle with her. It’s kind of an amazing thing – that turtle is almost 40 years old and it looks as good as new, even though it spends most of its time getting dragged down sidewalks and over rocks and other various obstacles.
I have to tell you, watching my two-year-old granddaughter drag that turtle around sure brings back memories. She could be the same little girl who dragged it around our house 30-some odd years ago.
So here’s what a plastic turtle can teach us about life. In the past 40 years, a lot has happened. The world has changed dramatically. There are new fears and anxieties every day. There have been many days when I’ve been under pressure to complete a project or felt bad because I did the wrong thing or wondered how the world was going to survive.
Our friend the turtle spent all those years patiently waiting and when he was finally rediscovered he brought joy to a little girl’s heart. In a world of change, those 2-year-old girls almost 40 years apart were the same. While jobs and back accounts and just about everything else can change, some things last forever. The bonds between parents and children — and apparently certain special turtles — outlive all the things we normally get caught up with in our everyday existence.
So here’s to the turtle with the sailor’s hat. He doesn’t even have a name, but he’s still a special creature. I’m sure in a few years my granddaughter will put him aside for other pursuits and I’m just as sure her mother will put him in a safe place until he’s needed again, maybe in another 40 years or so, to remind her about the things that really matter.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com.