And the Princess Said Yes

Dear Reader… most of my blog entries are written for my son as a means to share who I am as a person with him….. so that he can see me as more than a “mother” but as a woman who learned how to face life with faith, joy, and courage regardless of life’s ups and downs. It is my hope that he will draw some inspiration and encouragement for his own life as he reads my stories.

But this blog posting is different. It is written for my grandchildren…. ages 6 and 3. It is a story that I hope will be told over and over again…. that it will be a part of family gatherings….. and when they are older, I hope they will laugh about it and share this story with others.

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To my grandchildren,

I love to read stories to you. I enjoy our snuggling on the sofa—a blanket wrapped around us, stuffed animals tucked among us, reading our favorite stories such as Red Truck, The Little Blue Truck, Biscuit Goes to School, Chicken Big and others.

With that in mind, Nana has written you a very special story. One day I want to put this story in a book with pictures for you. I hope we will read and talk about this story lots of times and that you will carry it in your hearts. As with many stories, it starts with…..

Once upon a time…..

in a kingdom far away, a princess was born to Queen Anne and King Cleare. Two years later, a young prince was born. Queen Anne and King Cleare were loving parents. Prince Joe could be a bit annoying on occasion, but he was truly a wonderful younger Prince-Brother. The princess was blessed to be a part of a wonderful and loving family.

And life was good.

When the princess turned 18, she left her kingdom and moved to the Kingdom of the Gator, a land with orange and blue banners. She traveled to the Kingdom of the Gator to further her education and to begin a new life on her own. While living there, she fell in love and married a handsome prince. Over the years, they lived in different kingdoms. They moved to the Kingdom of the Big Elephant, where crimson and white banners were flown above the castles and where cries of “Roll Tide” were heard frequently. Whilst there, a young prince, Prince Christopher, was born to them.  They eventually settled in the Kingdom of Cobb. The princess quit her job as a nurse and became a full-time Princess-Mother. She raised Prince Christopher and was involved in kingdom activities such as Sunday School and Cub Scouts; volunteered at schools and the local hospital; gave dinner parties; and planned family events and trips. She made sure the castle was tidy and the grounds were well taken care of.

And life was good.

But in 2003, storm clouds appeared on the horizon. The princess tried very hard to make them go away but in spite of her best efforts, the skies became dark. 6 years later, she found herself sitting at a table, reading a Royal Decree from the Kingdom of Cobb saying that her 35 year marriage to the prince was over. With a heavy heart, she signed the Royal Decree.

The princess was very sad. She cried….. a lot. She would go to work and put on her “Happy-Princess-Smiley-Face” so that no one would know how sad she really was.

Many months later, the princess awoke in her bed one morning and stared at the ceiling. Her eyes were puffy from crying and her face was all blotchy. She did not look very princess-like. She thought about her mother, Queen Anne, who had died several years earlier. She wondered what Queen Anne would say to her if she were still living. Queen Anne was a woman who loved her family very much and she stood up for what she thought was right. You did not mess too much with the Queen’s family without there being some well-deserved consequences. And she realized that if the Queen was standing there she would wave her pointy-finger at her and tell her to quit crying and that she needed to get out of bed and go get something. And the princess knew what she needed to get and it was….. some gumption.

So, she got out of bed….splashed some water on her blotchy face; put on some lipstick (as one of Queen Anne’s rules was you never go anywhere without putting on your lipstick); brushed her hair; put on her best shoes and set out to find some gumption.

Over the next 4 years, the princess had many adventures in her search for gumption. She sold her Castle and bought a small Castlette. She worked for a very energetic and busy man (now that took LOTS of gumption.) She took three trips where she wandered about in Europe with only a small stuffed bunny (Sir Beasley) to accompany her and shared those adventures on a blog complete with pictures of Sir Beasley and her eating pastries; drinking wine, riding subways, and seeing many wondrous sites.

Over this period of time her son, Prince Christopher, married Princess Allison and they later became parents of two wonderful children. The “Princess-Nana” (as she was now called) would have special outings with her grandchildren. Not only did she need gumption for these outings, but she needed patience and a sense of humor as chaos was always a part of the day. She took them to see landmarks such as the Big Chicken and had sleepovers and mastered buckling them in their many snaps-and-buckles car seats and she determined which restaurants had the best peanut-butter-jelly sandwiches. (She also decided she should have a small glass of wine and go straight to bed after she took them home.)

Four years later, in 2013, the princess realized that much had changed in her life. She had learned many lessons—she had learned the importance of letting go of anger and guarding her heart. She had been angry at both herself and the prince and she learned that if you let anger stay in your heart, it will destroy you. She literally burned away the angers that she had harbored and found that once she did so, there was great joy in her heart.

She also learned that in process of creating a new life, she had to be willing to take chances. One of her favorite Bible stories about taking chances was about the Apostle Peter. Peter was in a boat and he saw Jesus walking towards him…. on the water. Peter wanted to walk to Jesus and he stepped out of the boat and tried to walk on the water. She knew that took courage and faith.

The princess continued to have adventures. She joined two different hiking groups and began hiking small mountains and various trails. Now this took a lot of gumption and stepping out of the boat as up until this point, she thought a hike was walking around the Marietta Square sipping a latte. However, these mountain hikes involved special non-princess-looking shoes and sweating. (The princess did not “glow” when she hiked as some people would like to call it—she sweated and her hair got soaked and she looked like a hot drowned rat.)

One evening she attended a social event held by one of the hiking groups and whilst there, she met a knight. She was very nervous at this social event and truly did not pay attention to the fact that the knight spent a lot of time with her. But later, the knight sent her a message via electronic couriers that indicated he had enjoyed talking to her.

The princess was somewhat stunned as this was the first knight to approach her since her divorce from the prince and she was uncertain as to what to do…..being a bit out of practice. But, she found some more gumption and stepped out of the boat and responded to his message. They spent several weeks exchanging messages and attended some of the same hikes with the hiking group.

They finally decided to meet one night for dinner and she was so nervous that when the knight walked her to her car after dinner, she slammed the door in his face and almost ran over his toes with her car—the knight said later he thought he would see tread marks on his shoes.  And the messages between them stopped. And that was that….. or, so she thought.

Two weeks later, the princess was strongly encouraged by a higher power (her internal spiritual voice) to send the knight a message, telling him about an upcoming St. Patrick’s Day hike that she was attending and he had not signed up for. She thought this was a really silly idea but finally gave in and sent the message. The knight said later he was very surprised to get the message. (And rightly so, as during the last time he saw her, she almost ran over him with her car.) But he decided to attend the St. Patrick’s Day hike.

There is a saying—“one thing leads to another”—and in this case, the St. Patrick’s Day hike led to more hikes and that led to wine tasting events and then outings to museums and art galleries and dinners out and watching sporting events on TV and so forth. The princess and the knight began spending more and more time with each other.

Two years passed since they had first met and on a bright summer day, they drove to the North Georgia Mountains for an outing. While there, the knight got down on one knee and asked the princess for her hand in marriage. He gave her a small box. Inside the box was a beautiful ring.

The princess had learned many things over the years. She knew (in her head) that fairytale stories about “a prince on a white horse sweeping the princess off her feet” and stories about “living happily ever after” were simply that….. they were fairytale stories….. and her own fairytale story had been shattered just as Cinderella’s glass slipper had been shattered. She no longer believed in fairytale stories.

But….. what if…..

What if….. the story was written differently this time—instead of a story about a prince on white horse, what if the story was about a knight—a kind and generous man—a gentleman caller with smiling eyes—who expressed love not only for the princess but for her family and grandchildren—a man who built a wooden city for them to play with; who stood in long lines getting happy meal boxes; who buckled them into their many snaps-and-buckles car seats; who wore a Santa Hat in restaurants on the “Help Princess-Nana get her Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” outings; who splashed with them in the pool and pushed them on swings.

What if…. the knight was a man who constantly showed respect for the princess; who made her laugh all the time; who sat next to her in Sunday School and church; who held her hand and opened doors for her; who supported her and understood her.

What if….. those things that she truly treasured above all else….. love, friendship, laughter, joy, companionship….. what if those things were right there before her—and she only had to look into the knight’s smiling eyes to find them …..

And so, with great joy in her heart, the princess said “Yes.”