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It’s very likely that The Legends of Pittsboro — a retirement community — is the only place of its kind that can claim a live goose as a legal resident. Cats and dogs are commonly accepted in retirement communities, but a goose?! No way — except at The Legends. And I am that goose, named Gladys by Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, my benefactors.

How did all this come about? My story follows: I was hatched and raised on a free-range goose farm in Chatham County. We goslings led a good life there with food, shelter and plenty of space to chase each other, or anyone who came our way. But in time, we learned the distressing truth that our future was not at all bright. We were destined to be sold at the local Farmers’ Market — no doubt to end up on someone’s dining table. Even the prospect of being a celebrated “Christmas Goose” held no appeal for me. I was determined to escape such a fate.

The next time a flock of wild geese appeared overhead in their clever V-formation, I gathered up my courage, and my thus far little-used wings, and flew away to join them. Most members of the flock welcomed me, and I spent the next several years migrating north and south with them. We spent the seasons between our trips at wild bird sanctuaries, where we were safe from dreaded huntsmen. In time, a very nice gander courted me, and I became “Mother Goose” to a number of goslings.

Thus the years flew by, until our long-distance flights became too strenuous for me. I had to face the fact that I should retire from the flock and find a less active way of life. Within a short time, I found one. In the course of exploring from overhead, I spied a collection of wildlife sculptures displayed around an art studio in Chapel Hill. The thought struck me that perhaps I could become an artist’s model! I flew down and waddled through the open door of the shop where a sculptor was at his work. He gave me a cordial greeting, then asked if perchance I would like to pose for him. With a nod and a low honk, I indicated my willingness. Thereafter he provided food and shelter and taught me how to hold myself motionless for long periods of time. I posed for him daily while he created a likeness of me; in fact it was such perfect likeness one could scarcely, if at all, see a difference between us.

One day a Mr. and Mrs. John Doe came into the shop. They explained their desire to purchase a statuette suitable for gracing the entrance to their apartment at The Legends. The sculptor showed them all of his creations; they examined every one, and finally settled on the figure of a goose. Which goose? Wonder of wonders, it was I! Surreptitiously the sculptor and I exchanged glances, his questioning my reaction, and mine signaling consent. And so the sale took place, and I was driven
to my new home at The Legends.

Enroute, we stopped at a little shop where Mrs. Doe purchased several outfits appropriate for me to wear according to the season, or on special holidays. When we reached their apartment, she dressed me in one of the outfits, including a pretty little hat that shielded my eyes, and placed me outside their door. Thus began my new career, presumably my last and best. Having learned as the sculptor’s model to hold myself perfectly still under any circumstance, it was easy to perform my duty as the Does’ full-time welcomer.

Food was my only problem; but I solved it that first evening when the hour was late and all the corridors were empty of residents. Warily I left my post and explored the entire building. In the Bistro kitchen I found a bin of food left over from dinner. No doubt it was to be disposed of the next morning, but meanwhile served me well. I ate enough to sustain me until the next night, and every night thereafter I repeated the scavenging.

For a long time my daily posing went very well. Nearly everyone who walked down our corridor greeted me at least with a glance, and often much more. Those who knew my name would say, “Hello Gladys, how are you today?” in the same way they greeted each other. And certain residents always stopped to admire my outfits. That personal attention pleased me, and although circumstances did not permit my showing any response, I truly felt rewarded for my days of silent and motionless “work.”

But one morning while Mrs. Doe was dressing me, I momentarily forgot my pretense of being a statuette, and moved my wings. The movement was very slight, but enough for Mrs. Doe to notice. She was so stunned, she let me fall from her lap. While I picked myself up, she frantically called for Mr. Doe who hastily responded from an adjoining room. Together they looked at me with such surprise and wonder, I felt prompted to make them a little curtsey and to utter a gentle honk.

Now forced to face the reality that I was not simply a statuette but a real-live goose, they settled down to a discussion of what to do about it. They decided to prepare and circulate a petition that revealed the new truth about me and requested that I be permitted to live on at The Legends. It also contained a promise that they would provide my food and shelter, and be sure that I continued faithfully to pose motionless at their front door. The next day the petition was circulated to all residents and even staff members. The response was more than enthusiastic; nearly everyone’s was positive. Then a group of my supporters presented the petition to The Legend’s administrator. After thoughtfully studying its contents he agreed and even went so far as to grant me legal resident status!

And so my life here continues almost as before, in fact even better. I daily enjoy my role as a welcoming “statuette” for Mr. and Mrs. Doe. They always feed me well, out on their secluded patio, where I also sleep at night in a cozy little coop constructed by The Legend’s talented woodworkers.

Who could ask for anything more?!

Betsey Wood

Betsey writes light verse, imaginary tales and of her time living in the Mojave Desert. 

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