For those of you part of the living world, you are probably aware that today marks a day full of anticipation, excitement, and for me, a little sorrow. You see, today Prince William of Whales married Kate (Catherine) Middleton. It was a glorious event full of class, a little humor, and a lot of love. It was a bit of a sad day for me because I, Stephanie Ann Swinggle, used to profess to the world that I would one day marry the prince. What can I say, from a young age I had big dreams. I think he made the right choice. Let's face it, I'm way to rough around the edges to be queen one day. As one couple sets out to begin their lovely life together, I can't help but think back to the love stories I've had a chance to bear witness to in my life and how grateful I am to have them to ascribe to.
At this point you may be thinking, "Hey, girl! Are you going all sentimental?" You bet I am, swinggles. Sometimes we need to be sentimental to add balance to our lives. Everyday can't be full of jokes about boobie tassels and penis pumps. I mean, am I right or am I right?
The most poignant love story to influence my life has to be that of my parents, Momma and Pappa Swinggle. Theirs isn't one of jewels, fanfare or fame, but one of simplicity, love and dare I say even a little fate.
My parents met at work in their 20's. It wasn't exactly one of those love-at-first-sight situations, but who cares, they ended up together. They had an average courtship until my mom experienced a collapsed lung. Due to the severity, she had to be hospitalized and was restricted from seeing visitors aside from family. My dad, not one to follow rules, told the nurses he was my mom's brother. He then walked into her hospital room not on a white horse, in dapper clothing, carrying beautiful roses; rather, he visited in jeans, a t-shirt, hiding McDonald's french fries under his hat to relieve my mom of the terrible diet provided by the hospital cafeteria. Now is that romantic or what? When he left my mom told one of the nurses, "You know, he wasn't really my brother." The nurse answered, "They never are dear." I don't know if that was the moment my mom knew he was the one she would spend her life with, but for our purposes we'll say she did.
They dated a while longer and eventually married. One day they happened to be talking about their rival high schools. My dad said to my mom, "You know, I remember a time when our school played Smithville (my mom's high school) and I saw a hilarious scene from one of your cheerleaders. I had just gotten done with my ROTC stuff before the game and came out into the hallway. There was one really cute cheerleader from Smithville who was walking and tripped going up the stairs. Her skirt flipped up and showed her [enter some word for hind end that probably wasn't as nice as hind end]. She struggled to get up and her friends kept laughing. She was really cute and had a nice [hind end again]." My mom just looked at him and said, "Steve, that was me." So, needless to say, even if they hadn't married, fate tried bringing them together before.
Time passed, they had me and my siblings, and things went on as usual. There were the usual ups and downs, job losses, trouble with us, excitement with us, the occasional fight, family dance nights, and time for laughing. Then, my dad was diagnosed with the big C. Yep, he got cancer. There's no real way to make that funny unless you're playing Apples to Apples. In that case, AIDS, CANCER, RAW SEWAGE and ELTON JOHN are always funny no matter what the matching word.
By the time we found it, things had progressed to an incurable point. Slowly my dad weakened, growing sicker and sicker. He finally grew so weak it was apparent he would not be with us much longer. Day and night, I remember watching my mom sit in the recliner by his bedside (the very one that once served as his captain's chair) not wanting to pull away for even a second. The day before he passed away (I found this out later, of course), my dad opened his eyes to my mom and said, "I'm going home." With tears in her eyes, my mom answered, "I know." He said, "Are you coming with me?" "No," she said, "I can't go right now. When it's my time will you come back and get me?" He answered, "Of course." He died the next day.
Theirs isn't the typical love story; yet it is theirs. It is a magical blend of universal timing, simplicity and love that formed together to make something I consider really special. It is because of them I believe in love. It is because of them and what I saw between them that I hold out and hope to find someone who will sneak me fries when I need it or will sit in the recliner when I'm sick. Sometimes it is nice to witness a royal love story like we had the opportunity to today. Other times, it is important to take a step back and look at the real love stories that influence our lives.
To my mom and dad....thank you for inspiring me to believe in love. I love you.