Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Queen and I

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Well, the Summer Olympics are underway, in London, with all the fanfare expected (and not particularly watched).

As for me, I have trouble watching anything at all about Queen Elizabeth II without dissolving into tears.

QEII was born the same year as my mum, five months before. Growing up in a little village at the base of a mountain, my mother and her twin sister, Peggy, had two heroines: Shirley Temple and Queen Elizabeth II. I'm surprised I'm not named Elizabeth, actually. I was named after Princess Anne.

I would think it very interesting to grow up the exact same age and gender as a monarch of a mighty nation (albeit a figurehead). When my parents moved out of their home in 2004, there were more than 30 books about the royal family in the attic, dating from the 1930s (the princesses and their corgis) to the Princess Diana era. My mum told me how she and her sister listened to the radio for news of the two princesses, both before and during World War II. Then, as my own mother was coming of age in Appalachia, Princess Elizabeth was coming of age too, marrying the love of her life and becoming queen.

Queen Elizabeth books were favorite birthday gifts between my mom and her twin. Many of the QE books I found were inscribed from Aunt Peggy. Later in my mother's life, she received numerous QE and Princess Di books from my godmother, Marianna.

Lifelong fascination with HRH Queen Elizabeth of England. That was my mom.

Perhaps as a reward for her devotion, my mother found herself one day expecting a personal visit from the queen, at our little two-bedroom house near Sharpsburg, Maryland.

It was an ordinary school day at first. But when I got home from school, my mother was working feverishly to prepare the house for Queen Elizabeth's visit. The fine china had been set upon the table, with the silver service Mom got for her marriage. Mom was dressed to the nines, and she ordered me to go to my room, tidy it to perfection, and put on my best Sunday dress. And fast, because the queen was on her way!

My dad was a school teacher, the sole earner in our household. When he got home, dead tired, he received the same instructions: Sunday suit, white shirt, the queen was on her way!

Dad and I stood there. We were never sure what to say in these moments. Our slacking got a huge tongue-lashing from Mom ... to the point that we acquiesced to her demands, all the while telling her the queen was not coming.

The evening proceeded as we sat in the small living room, waiting for Queen Elizabeth. Apparently the queen was supposed to bring the food, because Mom had not prepared dinner, only the appearance of the table. At about 9:30, Mom announced that the queen must have been detained. Dad went to McDonald's and got us some hamburgers.

Yes, this is a sad tale of life with a parent who had bipolar disorder. On that particular evening, Mom was in a manic state. Her mental wiring was a mess. She died of dementia at the age of 74. The queen, her peer, looks hale and hearty twelve years later.

I get teary over Queen Elizabeth because my mother was hell on earth to live with, but on the odd occasion when she could bury herself in a new Queen Elizabeth book, or see some royal event on the telly, she would  be lifted up from her demons for a short while. Mom never got to meet the queen (Aunt Peggy actually did). But Mom did get to see Prince Charles and Princess Diana once, in Washington, DC.

Prince William got married on the busiest morning of the Spoutwood Fairie Festival. Never mind. I got up at 4:45 and watched the whole doggone wedding. Wept from start to finish, especially when they showed the queen. And that movie, The King's Speech? Did you see that? I cried whenever they showed the little princesses with their corgis. Mom would have loved that movie.

Gods save the queen! Long may she reign!


Debra She Who Seeks said...

And she makes one hell of a Bond Girl too!

Actually, I know what you mean. Many of my old aunties were major Royalty Fans and kept scrapbooks of photos of the Royal Family cut out of magazines and newspapers. When my Grandma died and we went through her papers, we found that she had carefully kept the newspaper clipping of Edward VIII's 1936 abdication speech.

My Mom was born the same year as Queen Elizabeth too. I often look at how hale and hearty QE is after a lifetime of the best of everything, and compare it to my Mom who is ill and immobilized in a nursing home after a lifetime of privation and hard labour. The accident of birth, yes indeed.

Davoh said...

Um, right now i have a son with a sort of problem understanding the concept of respect. Am an Aussie, European heritage - born and bred - have to say that we don't 'automatically' "respect" very much.

However - one of the few people that i actually "respect" is Elizabeth: family Windsor. Or, if you wish, Queen Liz.


Goddess Bless the Queen