The Queen of England died recently.
Perhaps you heard.
She was an admirable lady of 96, an inspirational, if mostly symbolic ruler of an empire who could open a flower show or diagnose a faulty carburetor and fix that blighter.
She became Queen the year I finally achieved successfully sleeping quietly through the night, to my parents’ relief. Thus, she’s the only Queen of England I’ve known, though, frankly speaking, I’ve had no urgent need for a “Mum” at all. I had my Mom.
My Mom died last week.
I doubt you heard…and that’s as she probably wished it.
At the end of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, Willie Loman’s wife posits at Willie’s graveside; “Attention must be paid.” The first time I saw the play, I remember smirking silently at that line; “My Mom would beg to differ.”
In John Steinbeck’s CANNERY ROW, Flora points out; “Some people don’t want to put themselves forward.” That……that…………
I don’t know why.
She was an admirable lady of 94, a suddenly widowed (at 44) mother of three schoolgirls and a hippie actor/son. She fixed those blighters too.
…We would sit in the kitchen around that yellow-topped table and listen to the UK basketball games on the radio (televised games had yet to be invented). Mom would have her pad and pencil. She would keep meticulous score. She would know precisely how many points Cotton Nash and Dan Issel, and Mike Pratt and Scotty Baesler had scored. It was important. School spirit was a fine thing, but hard facts ruled the day.
…The day she mildly explained to my Little League coach who had failed to put me in that day’s game, that he was sequestering a future Hall-of-Fame first-baseman on his bench to his team’s detriment. I started the next game, though I still await that Hall-of-Fame invite. That day I learned the power of advocacy and persuasion. Don’t confront…form a discussion group.
…Before I started first grade, we would hike every Tuesday five blocks to the bookmobile, check-out our maximum ten books and hike back. We would haunt bookstores and thrift shops with book piles. Before I could read, I would “read” these picture books and make up stories to fit the pictures. I had been promised by my Mom that when I started school they would teach me to read. I returned home angry from my first day of school because I still couldn’t read.
My Mom didn’t have a parade of black Range Rovers through the streets of Edinburgh, or guns, or cannons, or horses, or military uniforms of centuries of history, or choirs…and that’s as she probably wished it.
I fear her memorial will be in the rider’s seat of my car when I’m driving alone. There’s always a book there, in case I get stuck at a slow drive-through, or a train crossing, or simply a longish red traffic light.
I think she would have wished that too.