Her Bad Mother

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Di and Me

Everyone said that she was so pretty. I didn't think that she was so pretty. I mean, she was okay, but she had short hair. She wore pants. She looked like she could be one of my teachers. She didn't look like a princess, not at all.

He, of course, didn't look like a fairy tale prince, either, but I knew that princes weren't always Prince Charmings. Grandma had told me. 'You can't always judge a book by its cover.' That's what you learn from stories like the Frog Prince: just because someone's a little warty on the outside, doesn't mean they're not handsome on the inside. Prince Charles wasn't handsome, she said, but she was sure that he was very, very nice.

Princess Diana, on the other hand, she was lovely. Such a pretty girl. So sweet. Just like a storybook princess.

I didn't see it. What was so special about her? She had feathered bangs, just like my friend Wendy, who was a whole year old than me and very sophisticated, but not, you know, special. not like a princess.

We watched the wedding together, my grandma and me. We got up really early in the morning, and grandma let me have alphabet cereal, and she drank coffee, and we had blankets pulled up over our knees and we watched as Lady Diana's carriage rolled through the street - it was a real carriage, like the ones you read about, maybe not the kind that come from fairy godmothers, but a real carriage, with big wheels and flags - and we watched as she got out, in that big fancy dress - a princess dress, for sure, but her hair still looked ordinary - and walked up the stairs and into the church and all the music and Grandma dabbed at her eyes a bit and said that she hoped that Nana was watching this from heaven, because Nana would have loved it. I said I hoped so, too.

Grandma sipped her coffee and made a little noise in her throat and said that someday I would have a wedding, too, maybe not as fancy as that, but it would be really nice and I would be just like a princess.

I won't have hair like that, though, I said. I'll have princess hair.

You'll have lovely hair, no matter what, she said.

Princess hair, I insisted.

Being a princess doesn't have anything to do with hair, she said.

I'll be a princess when I get married?

You're a princess now.


Yes, to me you are.

When I get married...

You can have a fancy dress and be all dressed-up like the princess that you already are. But you're already a princess. To me.

You'll be at my wedding, right, Grandma?

I hope so.

You will be.

She wasn't. She died the following year. But she was there, in my princess-heart, in that part of myself that knew, because of her, that my pretty dress that day was only window-dressing, that I was a princess already, no matter what I looked like. Just like that princess with the feathered bangs so many years earlier, who was princess, my grandma told me, because she was loved. Just like me.

Brought to you by the weekly Friday Flashback coffee klatsch. This week, we're jawing about "Where Was I When...?" (something big and important happened in the world - Elvis died, John Lennon died, the Challenger crashed, there was that solar eclipse, whatever - our parents did it with JFK, right? And if our parents did it...) Join and in and let us know - links, comments, whatever floats your boat - how to find you.

"Where Was I..." posts as of late morning:

Mrs. Flinger
Oh The Joys

Want mores? I wrote about Di's death here, if you're interested. Or, you could read my review of Barney's ABC. Up to you.


Blogger Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

My mom used to say "you're prom queen in my book" and although I thought, "she's my mom, she has to say that," I also realized that she was saying I was special to her and that's what mattered.

I didn't get princess Diana either when she got married. But when she died, I cried for days. It somehow hit me then, that people loved her for being ordinary and living the life of a princess and helping others.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember I was driving to community college the day that the OJ Simpson verdict was read. In my heart, I did feel he was guilty. I was obsessed over the trail, as was a lot of other people...I pulled into my parking space just as they said "We the jury....find Orenthal J. Simpson...Innocent" I was okay at first, angry, but okay. Then, I heard the Goldman family cry and let out this painful scream. I began to sob. I don't know why. I walked into my poly sci class with tears streaming down my face.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup, I got stuck on the hair too. To this day even, I wonder what she (or her assistant or makeup artist or whatever) was thinking. I was working a summer job and got up way early to actually watch it on TV. Even though her hair was blah, I did think it was beautiful. And I sobbed just a little when I heard that she died.

12:51 PM  
Blogger justmylife said...

You sound amazingly young. I remember Di's wedding, I was married and had a kid. I now feel very old.

It is really a touching story you wrote. My grandma always said I was a special princess, she made me feel special too. Years after her passing, I found out I wasn't her only one. All 6 of her granddaughters were, but we never knew it. She treated us all as if each one of us was her only one. Thanks for reminding me of that!

1:28 PM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

she wasn't "so pretty," but compared to the kennel club that is the royal family, she was a bloody goddess. her boys are lucky to favor her. that's all i'm sayin'.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Lisa Dunick said...

wow-- what a lovely post. your grandmother sounds like she was a sweet lady.

2:01 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

That was really beautiful. and it made me miss my grandmother.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

None of my grandparents lived to see my wedding day either. What a lovely story though. She did just what grandmas are supposed to do...make their grandkids feel special.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

mitzi - she was gorgeous. my grade-school self couldn't see past her ordinary hair-do and sensible blue suit. Remember that engagement photo?

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't watch the wedding but I pored over the photos in the National Enquirer magazines that my grandma kept in her bathroom. Love those grandmas.

3:01 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

You know, I remember other people getting up and watching it. it wasn't a big deal in my house, not that we had a tv anyhow. I remember when the first Gulf War started, when my dad came and told me mid-essay-writing that the us had dropped bombs on Baghdad. I remember, of course, 9/11, as I think everyone does.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I totally, TOTALLY agree with you on the "Princess Hair" thing.


6:29 PM  
Blogger Momily said...

What a great post and I just love the Friday coffee klatsch topics/concept. I'm not sure if just anyone can join in on the coffee klatsch, but this topic inspired me to blog on it as well: http://momily.blogspot.com/

7:21 PM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

Lady Diana passed away right before my wedding and it was what everyone was talking about. It was amazing to me how many people she touched.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

She died on my BIRTHDAY - my soon-to-be husband and I were driving back from a bush party, heard the news on the car radio and turned around to tell everyone. It was a memorable birthday.

8:45 PM  
Blogger OhTheJoys said...

My youthful view of her was like yours... Dorothy Hamil only quieter and not skating.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

I remember getting up to see the wedding, but I got bored because I'm impatient and it seemed to take forever for my young self.

I was quite affected by the news of her death, though. I have no idea why I would take it so personally.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Rocks In My Dryer said...

This was absolutely lovely.

12:17 AM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

I think that's one of the reasons I've always had a soft spot for Diana - her short feathered hair and her unassuming clothing.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

Ahh. Isn't it funny how when we look back we were so self absorbed? I'm sure I'll look back at my thirty-two year old self (like, say, when I'm 80) and think the same thing.

Love the memories of your grandma. She sounds wonderful.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Damn you, HBM. I'm sitting here crying my eyes out now and it doesn't works well with all these stitches.

Next time put a little warning up top. "Don't read if you're drugged up or still really miss your gran."

Still, it was beautiful.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

That's so sweet. You just brought back the memory of my grandfather taking me to lunch soon before he died. I said something about my upcoming Bat Mitzvah and he mumbled something about not making it that long. It was crushing.

It was true.

10:55 PM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

Bossy was camping, late summer, when her battery operated radio announced Diana's death. Bossy wasn't a big fan and she at first thought the death was Horse Related, but The Children! What were Diana's boys going to do? At the time Bossy had a 2-year-old and a 9-year-old and she couldn't fathom the loss.

Bossy's 9-year-old leaves for college This coming september.

Time, and accidents, are a mind-fuck.

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was returning home from a shopping trip with my parents when I hear about Diana's death. She actually died on my dad's birthday, so it is makes it easy to remember.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Well that was just lovely.

Reminds me of A Little Princess:

Miss Minchin: "Don't tell me you still fancy yourself a princess? Good God, child, look around you! Or better yet, look in a mirror."

Sara: "I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics, even if they dress in rags. Even if they're not pretty, or smart, or young. They're still princesses. All of us. Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he?"

10:20 PM  

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