Not a wedding. The Wedding. You know which one I mean, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the handsome ginger-haired British prince and the divorced bi-racial American actress. The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Until now, a storyline you’d only find in a romance novel.
Millions of people from around the world watched in awe, many getting up very early or staying up all night, so as to not miss a moment of the magic. There were the celebrities alongside the royals. There was the bride’s African American mother wiping tears of joy from her face while the groom’s family sat stoically and stone-faced in their seats; no doubt happy for the prince but just not accustomed to showing their emotions. And then there was the black American Episcopalian Rev Michael Curry who gave a beautiful and rousing sermon on love; again, much to the surprise of the royal family.
A lot was said about what everyone was wearing: the style, the designer, the color, and, of course, the hats. Leading up to the big day much was heard from the bride’s half-sister and half-brother about why they thought she was evil and hateful. Speculations were made over whether or not her father would be there to give her away…and ultimately, why not. I think there was probably more jealousy and tabloid money greed than heartfelt warnings behind their tales of woe.
What struck me the most, other than the beautiful clothes and flowers and people, was the love. The prince said, “You look amazing!” when his beautiful bride was handed to him at the altar. He could be seen wiping tears from his eyes on more than one occasion. The bride looked at him with a smile that could have lit all of St George’s Chapel brighter than any candles, electric lights, and the sun combined. They held hands during the ceremony. The Reverend was right when he spoke of “the redemptive power of love.” Love is everything. Love is all that matters. Before the ceremony I was uncertain whether or not I believed this marriage would last because the bride comes from such a different world than the groom. But when they looked at each other and said their vows I knew it was real. This is a love that can overcome everything thrown in its path. Perhaps because Prince Harry will never be king that pressure is off. He’s currently sixth in line to the throne. Or perhaps it’s because of Love. Love with a capital L.
* Next week I’ll be on vacation. I’m going fishing in Canada and will be off the grid for a full week. I’ll be back on June 9th, when I’ll hopefully have a fish picture to rival my big catch of two years ago.
Cost aside, even in good times getting away on a vacation can be impossible. Parents’ work schedules. Kids’ school and sports schedules. What to do with the pets while you’re gone. All these things and more can get in the way of getting away; thus, the “staycation”. It’s a vacation without leaving the privacy of your own home. No crowds, no traffic, no impossibly long TSA screening lines at the airport.
A staycation can be as short or as long as you want. Maybe all you can manage is a quiet Sunday afternoon. That’s alright. Pop yourself a beer or pour a glass of wine, lemonade, if you prefer, and pick up the book of your choice. Within minutes you can be anywhere in the world or in another time period. If you prefer SciFi or Fantasy you can transport yourself onto an entirely different planet or a fantastical world of the author’s imagination. It doesn’t even have to be a work of fiction. A good biography can make you feel like you’ve just met the person you most admire. Perhaps you always wondered what it was like to fight for the Union army, or wished you were a fly on the wall during the coronation (or overthrow) of a great ruler. All these things and more can be found in a book.
Lately my life has become very busy. There have been the events already on my calendar and all those that came up last minute. This has prevented me from writing much more than this blog for almost two months; but I have still managed to do a lot of reading. There’s the benefit of studying how a favorite author, old or new, pieces together their story, as well as the chance to turn off all the to-do lists that keep scrolling through my brain. Even an hour or two before I turn off my light at night makes all the difference.
Right now I’m reading a non-fiction account of a then famous murder in 1889 Paris and the world-wide search for the guilty pair. The criminal forensics were new for the time. The woman involved claimed she was not guilty because she was under the hypnotic power of her lover and partner-in-crime. Naturally, he denied this. This led to a great debate over whether or not someone could be hypnotized to commit a crime they would never otherwise commit. All this was documented in detail in the newspapers, as well as the diaries of the detectives. Fascinating! I highly recommend Little Demon in the City of Light: a True Story of Murder in Belle Époque Paris by Steven Levingston.
With less than 100 pages to go I’m already planning my next read. The Drums of Autumn, part of the Highlander series by Diana Gabaldon. There’s nothing like a good book about men in skirts and time travel to take me away from the demands of the present.
I love reading books about strong women. I’m currently reading “Last Woman Standing” by Thelma Adams. It’s about Josephine Earp, wife of the legendary Wyatt Earp, a Jewish girl from San Francisco who goes to Tombstone chasing the love of one man only to find it in the arms of another. Before that I read “The Last Tudor” by Philippa Gregory about the three Grey sisters: Jane, Katherine, and Mary. Lady Jane Grey was queen for nine days before being imprisoned and executed by her cousin, Queen Mary. Katherine was imprisoned and ignored by their cousin Queen Elizabeth until Katherine’s death. The youngest of them all and a little person, Mary Grey, was the only one strong enough to survive being imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth until her release.
A strong woman is not a bitch. A strong woman does not hurt others by climbing her way to the top over their backs. She does not have to be crude or rude or even ruthless. A strong woman believes in herself and can stand up for her beliefs. She doesn’t have to put down others in order to build herself up. Nor does she have to sleep her way to the top. She recognizes that sometimes doing the right thing means stopping to support another. She also knows when accepting the help of another is what’s right for her at that moment.
So many people have the wrong idea, the old antiquated idea, about romance novels. It’s been years since the main character was a weak woman who needed a man to save her from the bad guy; a woman who, when she says no really means yes; a woman who learns in the end that she really does love the bad boy who took charge and showed her the ways of love.
I write about strong women. In “Mary Bishop”, Mary learns just how strong she is when her husband’s strength fails him and she must rely on herself to hold their world together. And she learns her strength does not fail her when his death leaves her alone to fight those who would harm her, too. In “The Healing Heart”, Alice has to find her own strength when the influenza that almost takes her life does take the lives of her parents. When Alice’s fiancé returns from the war in France, a man damaged both physically and emotionally, she must decide if her strength is enough to bring him back to the man she fell in love with, or if it’s time to accept the love offered by another.
Strong women. Not mean women, or self-centered women. Strong women who recognize what they want in this world, but can also accept when what they want is not meant to be theirs. Strong women who don’t step on others, but also don’t allow others to step on them. Strong women grow tall in the knowledge of who they are, and who they can become.
Celebrate the strong women in your life. Be a strong woman.