пятница, 28 января 2011 г.

To Meet A Prince

Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution

BY: Theresa Sanders
But there's nothing half so sweet in life as love's young dream.
~Thomas Moore

If the need to tell our stories is what connects us, imagination is what renders those stories unique. Imagination fuels resolutions and shapes dreams. So it was for me at twelve years old when I first heard a newscast about Charles, Prince of Wales.

I was staying the week with my grandparents, as I did several times every summer. I quite simply adored my grandparents, and for months looked forward to our weeks together. I always loved suppertime best, not only because Gram let me plan the meal from her repertoire of delicious home cooking, but also because Granddad came home, smelling faintly of whatever mechanical things he did at the pump supply store where he worked. Every night while we ate, the three of us watched the evening news on the tiny black-and-white television in the corner of their kitchen, and that's where I learned of Charles. My imagination went into overdrive as I thought about how magical his life must be. I resolved then and there to someday meet a prince.

After supper, I could always be found on the swing in my grandparents' yard while Granddad went about his outside chores. The swing was my prime place for daydreaming, and on that night, my imagination didn't let me down. "Just how would this prince-meeting come about?" I asked myself. The story went something like this: first, I would fashion a new wardrobe -- shimmery white ballgowns and satin slippers, dresses in every rainbow shade. Second, I would leave my Midwestern hometown. Princes didn't live in such unimportant places. I would cross the country, cross the Atlantic....

"Hey, there," Granddad said as he joined me on the swing, which had to slow down to accommodate his long legs. He took out his handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his brow. He had been weeding the garden, and the sultry night air hugged us like one of Gram's prized quilts. "What'cha thinking?" he asked me.

I didn't dare tell him about my exciting unfolding story. No, instead, we talked of... fireflies. A silly conversation, considering what princes must discuss, but I had to humor my granddad. Before long, as we sat watching the little bugs blink on and off in front of our eyes, our firefly talk prompted stories of his childhood, which invariably led to stories of his trips to Germany or stories of when he used to work at the railroad company.

That night, I lay in the heat of my grandparents' upstairs bedroom, listening to the drone of the window fan mixed with the song of balladeer crickets. The house smelled like summer and spent sunshine, and the scent from supper of Gram's vinegary lettuce.

Finally... I could get back to my story.

So where was I? Oh, yes, crossing the Atlantic. Maybe the prince would actually be the one to do that. He was a helicopter pilot, you know, and it might just be that he'd like to see the world from this side of the ocean. Okay, but that still didn't explain how I met him, I thought, yawning as my eyelids closed. Gosh, that lettuce had sure tasted good...

The next night, I couldn't wait to scurry out to the swing. My imagination was still spinning, my tale taking on a life of its own, though admittedly tripped up a bit over that little how-I-met-the-prince part. Well, I'd come back to that, I decided, choosing instead to work out the part where I'm introduced to all of England. Of course it would be on the evening news. Mr. Cronkite would surely be impressed. As an admired architect, I was in the process of rebuilding Windsor Castle, where the prince and I... no, no... scratch that. I've just come back from Africa, um, Antarctica... where, while on a polar bear expedition... sigh. As a world-famous doctor, I'm in England to perform surgery....

The sound of thunder startled me from my fantasy. I gazed up to darkening storm clouds, waved to Granddad as he made his umpteenth pass across the lawn with his lawnmower. He was preoccupied that night, his goals centered on getting the grass cut before the rain moved in, the strawberries picked before the mosquitoes got hungry. When he finished the yard, I ran to help him in the strawberry patch, swatting mosquitoes as raindrops began to fall. "Your gram's gonna be mad that you're good and soaking wet," he said, a feisty twinkle in his eye.

I laughed, delighting in the rain, all thoughts of the prince forgotten.

Gram studied us with mock sternness when we entered the kitchen. "Look at you both," she scolded. "You're good and soaking wet."

Granddad just winked at me.

That week rolled on, fading into the next summer and the next, until one summer's night I'm sharing dinner with my husband as we watch the evening news. We've built a good life for ourselves; we've been married more than thirty years, having fallen in love when we worked together at a movie theater. My husband is a wonderful man, though he sometimes gets preoccupied with things like cutting the grass before the rain moves in or weeding the flower garden before the mosquitoes bite. He has a passion for baseball and leaves his socks in strange places. He also has a passion for our children, for our family and friends, for me.

Suddenly, my attention is drawn to the TV and a story about Prince Charles on a trip to Scotland with his sons. I smile, feeling a touch of embarrassment. Funny, that old resolution: It burns in my memory like those long-ago fireflies that brightened my nights and then flew away. Funny how ballgowns gave way to ballgames, satin slippers to jeans and tennis shoes. Oh, and that little how-I-met-the-prince part? I met him at a movie theater and we fell in love....


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