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Last updated: August 17. 2013 4:30PM - 978 Views
Maria Heck Sunday Dispatch columnist



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Its 4:30 a.m. and sleep eludes me like a healthy diet. I just learned the last Munchkin from the Wizard of Oz has died and it’s rocked my world.


Now, besides myself and my Pilates instructor, Darlene, (aka Tinkerbelle), we’re all that’s left of our people and will soon be on the endangered species list, after the short-eared owl and the yellow-bellied flycatcher.


The Wizard of Oz represents such a significant chapter in my life! Back in prehistoric times, it was the most magnificent occasion; the yearly viewing of the Wizard of Oz.


This would pre-date the VCR (also extinct) TiVo, Digital TV and Netflix. We had four television channels, including PBS, where my family enjoyed a rousing weekly session of Pennsylvania Polka and Lawrence Welk, Magic Window and Mr. Rogers. Imagine that…four channels and we all lived through it.


Staying up past bedtime to watch The Wizard of OZ was an ENORMOUS TREAT. Gigantic. Because when a family had six kids, it was just good policy to have half of us in bed by 7:30 so my mother could breathe again and not kill anyone at the end of the day. Crap shoot.


I’m feeling melancholy.


The death of the last Munchkin has triggered a response in me that has become more pronounced the older I get. I’m at an age where I recognize more and more names in the obituaries and family members are dropping like flies. I’ve lost count as to the number of wakes I’ve attended this year.


I know…circle of life blah blah blah…but I don’t enjoy this circuitous journey in the least bit and wish it were more of an open-ended trapezoid.


I’m at a congested crossroads these days and almost always unsure how to proceed.


My second child is off to college and I now only have one more left at home to torture, and really, it’s not even a challenge anymore. He hasn’t been producing anything column-worthy lately, anyway. He’s being waaayy too careful.


I should’ve had more children so I have more crap to write about. I may have to borrow a few kids from down the street, just to make my deadline twice monthly.


On another level, The Wizard of Oz is representational of so many topics currently wafting through our days. There’s the Munchkin aspect, of course … me being a card-carrying member of the Lollipop Guild, although, I have recently traded in my gold card to become a member of AARP, instead.


But aside from the flying monkeys, who still have the ability to make me wet my pants, the story eclipses world and generational issues.


There’s bigotry, open-heartedness and a woman being a leader…unheard of in 1940!


Dorothy knew her stuff and she knew how to work it; befriend the weak and infirm (I mean, come on, no heart? no brain?)…so as to make herself appear to be in a position of authoritative stature, rife with decision-making and power-move tactics.


Dorothy was a giving and generous human being, but when push came to shove, or glittery red shoes came to feet, she didn’t back down.


Dorothy also perfectly balanced her relationships with upper management, Glinda the Good Witch vs. Maria…er…The Wicked Witch of the West. She may have appeared jittery and uncertain but that was a façade…she had big plans.


She was homesick but she still totally engineered a corporate takeover, a makeover and executed the melting of a witch with hardly breaking a sweat.


Masterful. I need some of her sass.


True, the Munchkins were really her back-up army, but they were an enormous part of the strategy! Although Toto, the dog, earned more screen time (and a larger salary) than my people, they still held their own against the evil that infiltrated their village, pre-yellow brick road construction.


And they were always perky and happy and bursting with song! You can’t get a Munchkin down, not even if you’re green and have a house flatten you like crepe.


I mourn the passing of the last Munchkin from Oz.


Just like I mourn the days passed where the biggest dilemma in my own life was saving 50 cents to buy my first David Cassidy record.


I mourn the unfussiness of a life that was so good, I didn’t even know what I had. Where a big decision that day may have been what fruit we wanted to eat by the built-in pool, or what Barbie head I should shave. I miss mimeograph machines and kickball and Red Rover. I miss our cell phones of the day: the walkie talkie, and freeze tag and DippetyDo.


I miss simplicity and the role it had in my genuine happiness to be alive.


In the end, Dorothy grew a pair and saved the day and she told me every, single year what I’ve always known: there is no place like home, Toto.


No place like home.


Also- red shoes are always, and I mean always, a fashion do … even with a blue and white gingham ensemble. Take that to the bank.


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