In my former career, I got to meet some great speakers, great men and women. While I never shared a meal with Walt Disney or Charles Schulz, their legacy is all around me, and I feel as if I knew them really well. Indeed, this is the magic of creating something so endearing, it lasts long after you are gone. I should be so lucky some day.
We’ve come back from a visit to The Magic Kingdom in Florida, and an Aulani stay in Hawaii. I know a little bit about some of the background of the Disney theme parks because I got to sit and talk to one of Disney’s close friends/business associates one day. Most people know what a risk Disney took to build Disneyland, “Where all the horses work and there’s no chipped paint.” I’ve previously written about how that was one thing he noticed about the park nearby where he used to take his girls when they were little. It is a fascinating story about how he got the funds to build the Children’s Hospital of L.A., and how it involved getting the Abraham Lincoln exhibit more life-like with the help of a cardiovascular specialist, who in turn requested a children’s hospital be built, a promise Disney kept. A story for another day. There are hundreds of these stories.
Having just come from the Gratitude Reception, at the Schulz Museum here in Santa Rosa, I’m struck with the same feeling that I knew Mr. Schulz, “Sparky” as he is known to his friends and family. I walk down the aisles of the comic strips he drew over the decades, witnessing how they brought laughter and introspection to a population hungry for pure entertainment. The simple lines and short phrases endeared Mr. Schulz, and the characters he created, to millions, young and old.
At the Disney resorts, grown men and women wear mouse ears, acting like children, in many cases reliving their own childhoods through the next generation of children. I think it’s a gift to be able to make someone laugh. And to give back, very humbly, to the community that fostered and supported them.
Both men loved to draw cartoons. It wasn’t an accident when they couldn’t find Mr. Disney at the grand opening of the CHLA, and later found him upstairs, sitting on the ground, drawing pictures with some of the little patients and making them smile.
There’s a lot to shout about and rant in this world. But there’s also a lot to be grateful for. In the end, these kinds of men will be fondly remembered long after those that prey off society. Just like in my books, good always triumphs, is always way stronger than evil. The healing power of love and laughter is much stronger than the screaming. The Bible says it well, “Love is patient, kind.”
May your lines be straight, your moving parts work, your heart open and your soul patient. I can only imagine what kinds of conversations these two men are having in Heaven today.