My daughters and I were visiting my 80-year-old mother in Florida during spring vacation, so we decided to visit Epcot. The first thing you see inside is a silver dome called Spaceship Earth. Next are the hordes of people waiting to get into it. We skipped Spaceship Earth.
Unfortunately, every exhibit had long lines. My kids wanted to take a ride through the human body at the Wonders of Life pavilion, so I bit the bullet.
Then I had a brainstorm. “Mom, why don’t we let the girls hold our places while you and I check out the House of Innoventions exhibit next door?” We walked over to the exhibit. We both had to use the restrooms, so I told her to meet me at the entrance of the pavilion.
When I returned she was gone. I went back to the line but the kids hadn’t seen her. I returned to the exhibit and waited. An hour went by. I picked up the girls, told them the bad news, and asked a park attendant where one goes to find a lost person. She pointed me toward Guest Relations. After enduring another line, I finally spoke to a woman at the counter. “I lost my mother.”
“Lucky you,” she chirped in Disney happy talk.
“Not my mother-in-law,” I growled, “my mother. Do you have a P.S. system where you can announce her name? ”
“I’m sorry, we don’t do that. If we did, that’s all you’d hear all day long.”
“So what do you do about lost people? I mean, she’s eighty, for Chrissake.”
“Should have tied a balloon around her wrist.”
“Funny,” I said and left a message for her in case she showed up.
Next I went to First Aid, but was told they only treated minor accidents there.
“What if something serious happened to her?”
“We would send her to the nearest hospital.” But no one with my mother’s name or description had been treated there when I called. I thought of having to tell my uncle in Ft. Lauderdale we’d left Mom somewhere in Future World. “What do you mean you lost her?” I could hear him bellow.
I tried to think what Mom would do if she got lost. She’d call my sister in Brooklyn. So I called my sister. “What do you mean you lost her!” she bellowed.
“If she calls,” I said, “Tell her to meet us at Guest Relations.”
My kids were now getting worried. I wanted them to have a good time so I told them to go enjoy the park and I’d meet them at six at the China pavilion for dinner. I then walked the entire length of the park, thinking back to when I once got lost in a shopping center and cried for Mommy. Now Mommy was lost and…I felt like crying.
Another hour went by. I returned to the Wonders of Life pavilion and looked at every older woman who passed by. I saw a woman wearing a pastel blue blouse and ran over to her, but she wasn’t my Mom. I started to jog from one elderly woman to another, frantic at the thought that she was alone, probably scared, and very likely disoriented. What an afternoon we were having: I didn’t spend any time with my kids, didn’t check out any of what Epcot had to offer, didn’t bother eating, and feeling tremendous guilt and trepidation about what my mother must be going through. Hours past. It was getting dark. I figured I’d go to the park entrance and look at all the people as they exited.
That’s when I saw her.
“What happened?” she asked. “I went back to Journey Into Imagination and couldn’t find the kids.”
“Mom, that’s because they were standing in the Wonders of Life line. Journey Into Imagination is on the other side of the park. Trust me, I know.”
“How did that happen?” she wondered. “I walked out from the restroom and just followed the lines. The lines all look the same to me,” she said.
“You must have turned the wrong way and entered another section of the park. You hungry?”
“I had an ice cream.”
Eight hours wandering by herself around Epcot and all she had was an ice cream.
“We’ll wash it down with Chinese,” I said.
”I hope you made a reservation.”