Lasting the Course

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.

This entry was posted in Appreciating Deeply, Feeling Clearly, Mortality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Lasting the Course

  1. Pingback: Let it Begin | Traditional Iconoclast

  2. Her Majesty is an icon of the notion of responsibility. However one may view the monarchy as an institution or the peculiarities of someone cast into a unique and onerous role, that aspect of her performance is admirable. I have taken strength on more than one occasion from her example.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Exactly. I’m of two minds (at least) about the monarchy but only one about Betty Windsor.

      • barbara carlson says:

        Betty Windsor — a real card. Below is one of several stories I have on reliable authority.

        I’ve been told she (wearing mufti) used to go across the street from Windsor Castle to have a quiet, solo cuppa at a tea shop. As she sat, a couple nearby kept staring at her… finally they approached her and said, “You look remarkably like the Queen!”
        And she said, “How reassuring.”

  3. Although we often fight it when we are young, our parents are an integral part of us. That part of us remains alive as long as we live. Raise a glass to your Dad! And Mom! And mine!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – 🙂 Will do. I’m now at the age where family resemblances take over from individual ones, and people I see only occasionally remark on my new-found similarity to Mom.

      • After my mother died, I saw her oldest sister and her oldest sister-in-law more often. Both almost mistook me for her, although I don’t see such a close physical resemblance. And each, shortly before she died, spoke almost exactly Mum’s last words to me: “Thank God for a … daughter/niece … like you.” I think they responded mostly to my praying aloud for them. From my mother, the words simply were “like Mum.” But I was quite shocked when Aunt Florence, and a few years later, Aunt Anna, echoed her words. They were almost the last words those aunts spoke to me, too.

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