This week, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 90th birthday. As I watched her presenting the royal wave to her subjects, I imagined my mother sitting in her magenta chair at assisted living, adjusting her imaginary tiara and smiling for Elizabeth II.
But in the solitude of her apartment, I doubt Mom was even aware that the British monarch walked among adoring crowds and cut dainty pieces from luxurious cakes.
Mom has always loved British history. She read all the novels and biographies about famous Brits and gathered an amazing volume of information about our “homeland’ across the channel.
Ask her about the numerous wives of Henry VIII, and she could recite them all – in order – as well as the circumstances of their unfortunate demise when they failed to produce a male heir. Poor Henry never knew it was the deficit of his own sperm.
Mom felt such a kinship to Elizabeth, she often declared, “It should have been me, you know. We were switched at birth.”
The year we toured Europe, Mom experienced a special euphoria when our Eurail pass transported us to England. We stood for hours outside Buckingham Palace, hoping for a glimpse of the queen. Her flag waved in the drippy London sky, but she did not appear. Disappointed but grateful, Mom said, “Well at least we saw where she lives.”
When we strolled through the lovely town of Westminster, Mom stood quietly for a moment as a trolley passed. Then she shook her head and smiled broadly. “I can’t believe I’m actually here. I’m seeing this in person.” Years of reading and dreaming had finally merged into reality.
The Tower of London made her sad. English crumpets and tea provided a culinary thrill and when we boarded the train for France, Mom sighed and said, “Trip of a lifetime.”
Mom would have enjoyed the Queen’s birthday this week and all the celebrations depicted on television. But in her quiet Alzheimer’s world, our trip to England is probably hidden in the fog of demented plaque.
I want to believe that somehow, Mom’s soul felt a blip of joy for her majesty the queen and maybe their ethereal connection seemed more real than ever before.
I’ll never know for sure how Mom celebrated the queen’s birthday, but I am certain of one thing – my mother is also royalty, a daughter of King Jesus.
©2016 RJ Thesman ̶ Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh
Love your Mom’s sense of humor, “switched at birth.” Of course, maybe it wasn’t just humor???
At that point in her journey, I do think it was humor. Who knows what she might say or think today. But it is still a sweet memory.
As a fellow anglophile, I feel a kinship with your mother. I will be as delighted to see England as she was. I’m so glad you shared that family memory today.
Looking forward to hearing all about your visit “across the Channel” one of these days. Maybe you’ll even see the Queen!
Having several personal encounters with victims of the silent thief, alzheimers, I confess a bittersweet ache touched my heart as I read the story of your trip to England with your Mum. It is a treasured memory, to be sure. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Thank you, Terry. I appreciate your comment. Yes – those memories are so important as we walk through this journey.