May 23 – Years ago, back in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe today) where I was teaching, I heard that the Queen would be visiting in a town not too far from the mission, giving me a chance to see her. QUEEN ELIZABETH! I had already been interested in her and her family because she was just about two months older than I was. I thought I might be able to see her for a few minutes as the car in which she arrived in was parked, and she came out to talk with the well-wishers as she moved right along.That morning I left the mission very early and arrived at the viewing area long before the big crowd arrived. Good thing, too, as I have always been too short to see over the heads of other folks who want to get a good view. Now I could stand where nothing could block my view of THE QUEEN!
And of all things, when she got out of her limousine and reached the place where I was standing, she reached out her hand to me and asked where I lived, and what I was doing with my life! Now I wasn’t quite smitten enough that I didn’t wash my hand as the old story goes, but it did take me awhile to get over the fact that I had actually, by her choice, shaken hands with THE QUEEN! I am not positive, but I am pretty sure that this all took place in Gwelo Park.
Speaking of Dale, I didn’t know him yet, so we did not stand in the same area as the queen walked past. He says he doesn’t remember much about that day, but he was impressed.Later, when we were on our way back home to America after mission service, we stayed for a couple days in London. Fortunately for us, we saw crowds gathering along the route where Queen Elizabeth was riding in her carriage on her way to Parliament. Dale and I had been married by then and chose a spot on a little hill, so we could see all of the waves and smiles so easily given by the queen.
Once back in the States again I stayed home with our two children, David and Betty Jean for a number of years before going back to teaching in a one-room school. While we were talking one day about various countries and rulers, I mentioned that the Queen of England would be celebrating her birthday in the next month of April. Up went a hand! “Couldn’t we write to her and wish her a happy birthday?” asked one of my students. Her name was Janice, and her father and family had just come from England to serve our church as pastor. A great chorus of, “Could we? I’ll bet she would be happy to know we thought of her! Please let us use our English time today to write! Please!”I couldn’t resist. When a young student asks to write a letter, it’s sometimes amazing to read the outcome! “OK,” I said. “Just remember as you write that I am not going to check your spelling or sentences, or anything. Let’s get to work, then.”
And for the next hour the classroom was even more quiet than the mouse spoken of in the old saying! When the kids had finished writing and correcting, they wanted to read their letters to the class. They had come up with some good ideas and wanted to send the letters right away so that the queen would write back to them. How innocent those students were! They really did think that they would hear from her, and because of their enthusiasm, I thought there was a bit of a chance that she actually would! I wrote a letter too, explaining why we had written.
Well, the students and I were both correct in a way! We did get an answer to our letters, all written by the lady-in-waiting who was close to the queen. One part of her letter proved to me that she had read the letters from the kids! After thanking them for their kind notes, she mentioned by name one of the children who had told her he had a bad cold or something like that (I just can’t remember each detail of those letters) and hoped that he had recovered. You can well imagine how long the kids wanted those letters to be kept on the bulletin board in the hall. How pleased they were, and how thankful I have been for over so many years that Queen Elizabeth would take the time to give all of the children such happy memories.
So on April 21 of this year, I thought of the queen and wondered how she was celebrating her real birthday. Now as we move on towards June for her second birthday of the year, I will be celebrating with her! She turned 91 last April and I will celebrate near my real 91st birthday on June 21st.
What, then, is the reason behind having TWO celebrations? Over 250 years ago, King George II decided that he would like to celebrate his real birthday in a month other than November since he didn’t enjoy the weather at that time of year and thought it wouldn’t be good to have a big public celebration. So he decided to have a birthday in April where he could have a big parade and other celebrations. And it has since become a royal habit.
My lasting impression of Queen Elizabeth is that she is the kind of person who should just keep going and going, giving her time to help people who need her, even if she is the Queen of England, one beloved by all of her people and others around the world. – CHRIS
NOTE: Unlike most of my posts, I took none of the pictures in this one.