Today, 2022 April 21, is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s 96th birthday. This year is also the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. As of 06 February, she clocked 70 years as monarch: a first in the history of the British monarchy. And she shows no sign of quitting.
Do you know, I’ve been Queen barely 10 years,
and in that time I’ve had three Prime Ministers.
All of them ambitious men. Clever men. Brilliant men.
Not one has lasted the course.
They’ve either been too old, too ill or too weak.
A confederacy of elected quitters.
– Queen Elizabeth, The Crown, in a scene set in 1962
Today, 2022 April 21, would have been my father’s 100th birthday. I turn 70 in a few weeks, so this year is also his Platinum Jubilee of being my dad, if you like. He shows no sign of quitting either.
He died in 2010, but he’s still on the job in my head: making pithy remarks, establishing high expectations, and setting an example of a good if unremarkable life. Working responsibly, planning family trips, curling and golfing, enjoying his friends and a good martini, teasing grandchildren, and participating in his church and community. And, nearer the end, accepting the inevitable limitations gracefully.
Being a parent starts when a baby is conceived, or when a child is brought into the family through whatever mode. From this misleadingly modest beginning it just goes on and on and on. And on. Through good times and bad times and for all time, being a parent never ends. Good parents don’t have to be ambitious or clever, much less brilliant. They do have to last the course. It’s not a job for quitters.
Does Elizabeth ever carry her lifelong commitment as monarch as a burden, even momentarily? Did my father ever carry his own lifelong commitment as a parent as a burden, even occasionally? I can’t know. I do know that it wouldn’t hardly be surprising if they did.
So today I raise a glass to Her Majesty, to my dad, and to all those who don’t quit.
Here’s to those who last the course.