When the children were young, we had a family reunion with the Michigan relatives. Always an event we all anxiously awaited, as the kids could see their cousins once removed, if not by distance, by some perpendicular line drawn on a lineage chart. The half way point was chosen, and off we went to some domed hotel which featured a swimming pool in the center surrounded by rooms. Pack the van, pack the junk food, and off to drive around the south end of the Lake of Michigan as we headed for a fun filled weekend.
I especially liked these events, as I knew I would not be the sole observer of Peter as my parents would be joining us, and my cousin Denise, always offered her services to stay with the kids. A little break, complete with relatives that I had not seen in a year, one could not ask for more. Every year, we enjoyed each others company, covered last years events, and agreed to see each other again in the spring.
Peter loved these events, as he had many hands to keep him entertained and was able to join into the other children's activities. The year he was the age of toilet flushing, just the right height to flush, watch, and wring,he changed the course of events, as we knew it. That year, the weekend progressed with it's usual array of fine activities, if I remember I think there was even an egg hunt, prizes, shopping, swimming, dinners that all added to the perfect weekend. When the time came for us to leave, we packed our bags, and gathered to do the annual hugs and see you next year event. It was a group of around 20ish, so the gathering and the hugging, was done expediently, as we all were in a hurry to return to our abodes, however,it did consume a small chunk of time. Somewhere in that chunk, whether it was one of those assumed moments of "I thought you were watching him" or one of those moments where you just put that pint sized Speedy Gonzales down by your feet and try to entangle him between you knees, he escaped. Gone in a flash, no neighbors to retrieve him here, and he was gone. Gone for an incredibly long period of time. Noting he was missing, the hugs and goodbye session turned into a hunt. Everyone participated, and as the time pass, the search became more fervent. Peter was not to be found in any relatives room, near the pool, near the game room, near an elevator, and most certainly not near a door.
Enlisting the help of housecleaning and security the search continued, and I started to conjure up those "what if thoughts" as we could not find him and time was passing.
We were really running out of places to look. Finally, and I do not know how he connected the dots, but he always was a very smart person, my Uncle Terry found Peter in a room where the occupants had left, standing in the bathroom, yep, you guessed it, calmly flushing toilets and when Terry appeared wondering what was the big deal about him missing anyway??? By that time, the sweat was running down my head, and I would guess the majority of others.
Now if you think of a huge busy hotel chain on a Sunday morning when everyone is leaving, and you think of the large number of empty rooms, and think of those heavy doors to those rooms that automatically, I know I am still amazed that we found Peter. Eventually, he may have been picked up by housekeeping and put in the lost and found, but really, that would have been hours.
The moment of Peter finding is still fresh in my memory, as I can still remember the fear of not finding him, and the absolute relief when we saw him there in the abandoned, unclean room flushing away. Not one bit concerned that now, about 40 to 50 people were seeking his appearance, and soon the police would be involved. When, one finds Peter in these situations, he would just look up at you, give you that smile, like "life is good, it is a good toilet afterall", and those conversations to nowhere about not running away, you might as well save, because to Peter those were a meaningless set of words.
So that weekend Peter gave new meaning to our family reunions. He added the joy of being found, another tale to tell and after that year, he was never left out of any one's site...and the famous "do you know where Peter is" was spoken every two hours.