The big difference between being an author and not is that authors know how to turn a simple event into a great story. Often, these stories are buried in the back of our minds behind a library of other potential great stories, and one of these forgotten stories for me is the day I met the queen.
Sometimes we experience things in life that stand out in our minds and we can’t wait to get them down on paper and turn them into our next story. But other times, it’s a small, almost insignificant event that leads to the next best seller. As authors, we can never assume that anything is too little or too pointless to bother with because if there is the slightest bud there we can turn it into a beautiful blossom.
I was thinking about all the celebrations of the Jubilee year for Queen Elizabeth and I wanted to be able to write a story about it. But I wasn’t there and had only read what others had written, so my story wouldn’t be original and it wouldn’t have the passion that I wanted it to have because I was writing second-hand and wouldn’t have experienced any of it myself.
As I was admiring Her Majesty the other day, I was reminded how similar she looks to my own mother. She was also from England, and her physical appearance was very similar to the queen’s, and for a few seconds I watched this celebrated woman and realized how much I missed my mom – and how just watching Queen Elizabeth on television made me feel like a part of me still belonged to the UK.
My older brother had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty and of being her personally invited guest at her dinner table on her yacht a few years ago. He was in awe with her integrity and her genuine concern for the people, and with her amazing sense of humor. It was a day in his life that he’ll never forget and of course, a framed picture of the event hangs in his living room.
And as I was thinking about this, I remembered something that happened to me so many years ago; something that I had totally forgotten about and that just never seemed important – until now.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were visiting Canada in June of 1958 and their motorcade would drive slowly around the huge circle drive at Battlefield Park. Students from several schools were gathered on the grass that surrounded this drive and we would all get to wave to her as her car drove slowly by.
I was in grade one at the time and because we were the youngest of the children there, we were all placed at the front of the crowd right by the road. It was a very exciting time for me, and as I look back I remember that I wore my pink and yellow Sunday dress and my shiny black patent shoes that I had polished and shined especially for this day.
My mom had just come home from the hospital at that time after giving birth to my younger sister – my precious sister who would have celebrated her birthday yesterday but who went Home a few months ago. But Mom had set out my clothes and helped me get ready for this special day. I know she wanted to be there with me because she loved her homeland and she loved the queen.
I held the little Canadian flag in my hand just like everyone else, and as her car came around the bend I saw her and I felt so honored to be able to see in person this woman who had such an influence on my mother’s life. My heart pounded with excitement and my smile stretched from ear to ear. And then the unexpected happened.
Her car stopped right in front of me and she got out of the car and waved to everyone around me. And then she walked up to me and stopped waving and smiled at me. I didn’t know what to do or how to react so I handed her my flag and said, “This is for you, Your Majesty.” I have no idea why I did that.
She smiled back at me again and then asked me what my name was. I told her and she said, “Veronica, what a lovely name” – yes, my formal name is Veronica. I was quick to respond, although now I wish I could have thought of something else to say. “My mom is English and you look just like her. She wanted to come and see you today but she couldn’t. She really loves you.” Oh, the innocence of a child.
She took the flag and then gave me a big hug. Then she cupped my face with her gloved hand gently and said, “God bless you, Veronica. I’m glad we met.”
It’s amazing how so many years have passed and how that one moment in my life fell into the cobwebs of my memory. Yet it was so quickly dusted off and brought back when I watched the TV and I saw Queen Elizabeth get out of her car. I wish I hadn’t given her my flag because it would have been such a memorable keepsake for me.
And yet, as an author many of my precious keepsakes are in my mind and in my heart and will eventually all be on paper. I can look back into my memories at things that happened that were emotional, funny or traumatic, and with each one I can see a story waiting to be told. And one of these awesome memories that fills my heart with passion and gratitude, and that gives me a sense of security is this is story about the day I met the queen.
*if you enjoyed today’s post, please subscribe and then you can have all future posts delivered right to your inbox.
How I Met the Queen.