For 11 days in September, the world watched as the longest reigning queen in United Kingdom history died, was honored, and interred following an elegant funeral procession.
I have to admit that I do not know much about the UK monarchy. And frankly I didn’t really want to. But that doesn’t dismiss the fact that Queen Elizabeth II was revered and honored by multitudes around the world.
I am truly unsure of who and what the queen was as a person, and there has been such a dichotomy of opinions about her, and about the monarchy in general. As much as I don’t know about Queen Elizabeth II, I know equally as little about King Charles III.
But as I watched the goings on over that 11 days, in extreme moderation, I couldn’t help but become fascinated with the photos of young Elizabeth before and when she was corinated. I was also captured by photos of all the royals when they were children.
My fascination wasn’t one of envy, rather it was one of gratitude. To me, those young individuals never had a childhood like mine that entertained me, sparked my impishness (see Larry and the maringouin), and made me the person I am today — not nearly as wealthy and privileged as they, but content none-the-less.
The royal children never had the chance to climb trees in their grandparents’ yard … and fall from them. They never had the chance to get filthy, scraped up, and sweaty playing in that large yard on Whipple Street.
The royal children never got to learn how to ride a two-wheeler by jumping on a large Columbia bicycle with huge, over-inflated tires, and be pushed down the hill in that yard by my brother, and crashing in the grass at the bottom — until I didn’t crash anymore, but learned what brakes are for and how to use them.
The royal children never had the chance to hop in a small motor boat on Stafford Pond in Tiverton, R.I., or Sawdy Pond in Westport with Larry and spend several hours fishing.
They never had the chance to get behind the handle of a giant cement roller and pat down snow in that Whipple Street yard and flood the area and wait for it to freeze overnight; and then play hockey for hours on it the next day — and repeat.
I’ll bet the royal children never nestled in on an American Flyer sled and fly down the hills at the bottom of South Park in Fall River — with reckless abandon, I might add.
They never had the chance to lace up a pair of hockey skates and glide around the skating rink at that same park, and swoop by the girls and snatch their three-foot-long stocking hats from their heads and speed away, hoping to be chased. That was always a fun flirting ritual — for us boys anyway.
The royal children never had their heart broken by big, nasty Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals as he shut down the beloved Boston Red Sox three times en route to a World Series victory in seven games in 1967.
They never had the chance to walk into Fenway Park in Boston for the first time and catch an initial gasp-inducing glimpse at the Big Green Monstah and the lush green grass — all while attending my first Boston Patriots game in November of 1967 against the reigning American Football League champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, led by Hall of Famers, coach Hank Stram and quarterback Len Dawson. The Pats lost that day 33-10, but I had the time of my life.
They never had the chance to watch, with tear-filled eyes, the greatest professional ice hockey player of all time, Bobby Orr, soar through the air like a graceful big old Bruin after scoring the Stanley Cup clinching goal in overtime in 1970.
I’m willing to wager they never had the chance to watch “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “The Flintstones,” and “Bugs Bunny,” on a big old Zenith black and white TV for hours on end.
I’m sure they missed out on gathering with a couple of pals and heading to the St. Anne School yard to spend the day playing stickball with an old broom stick and a Pennsy Pinkie.
And I guarantee the royal children never had the opportunity to head down past the bottom of South Park, across the railroad tracks to the Taunton River to explore, while dodging the river rats that were big as dogs.
I wouldn’t trade a single one of these things for all the riches and honors this world has to offer.
In my mind’s eye, I was royalty as a normal American kid growing up in a normal American middle class family.
I will never have the funeral procession Queen Elizabeth had, or the accolades (and criticisms) from around the world.
I will never be called your highness. I am pleased and deserving to just be called your normalness.