Prince Charming knelt before Cinderella, pulled out the glass slipper and slipped it smoothly onto her foot. It fit. Birds sang, flowers floated through the air. For he had found his One True Love. They married and lived happily ever after.
I was reminded of that last week as my 80 year-old Prince Charming with white hair and heart problems bent his arthritic knees before me, positioned my decrepit sneaker over the white compression stocking on my foot and slid the sneaker smoothly into place.
Bells did not ring in the background. Colorful little birdies did not chirp and flutter around with bits of ribbons, hearts and flowers in their beaks.
Still the story of true love held. Deep into our years of retirement, we define Love in the manner of the “Fiddler on the Roof” parents singing to each other, “Do you love me?”
What a question! “I’ve lived with him, fought with, starved with him, washed his clothes, cooked his meals, borne his children … if that isn’t love what is?”
We found another verse this year. After slipping in mud and breaking my hip I have needed many, menial acts of love. The fairy tale characters have shown up in slightly altered appearances beginning with the morning’s foot scene between Cinderella and Prince Charming.
After my first day of physical therapy, I left the building bone tired, shaking with pain, stomach growling, and shivering from chilly weather. I just wanted to go home, cover up, lie on Sleeping Beauty’s bier and sleep. Instead, the wicked queen of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves appeared. She spouted angrily at anyone challenging her words or daring to trespass her mirror’s picture of perfection.
The good huntsman went down the hall, jacked the thermostat setting to overheat the house. He raided the refrigerator, fed the wicked queen, hauled out blankets and foot warmers and presented her with a magic potion for erasing pain.
The snarling one slept. A couple hours later she emerged from a cocoon, all toasty warm and smiling like the Good Fairy of the North in the Wizard of Oz.
Sometimes I feel like Goldilocks, “Too hot,” “too cold” and sometimes “just right.” The Prince rushes around finding pillows, blankets, food and drinks in search of “just right.”
And then there are days when my husband puts on his little red riding hood to take flowers and goodies to Grandma. He trips the latch, approaches the bed and is startled at what he sees, “What big eyes you have. What big ears you have. What big teeth you have!” only to have the sweet grandma emerge from the blanket in her night shirt and declare, “The better to eat you with my dear.”
The Good Woodsman rushes in with a sense of humor and chops through the irritations of life setting the real grandma free from the closet.
In one tale, on a dark and stormy night, a bedraggled princess woke the prince seeking shelter from a storm of discomfort. She tossed and turned feeling an invisible lump in her back. Surely, only a true princess could feel a pea hidden under the layers of pillows, blankets and cushions around me.
It takes the ability of one’s True Love to look beyond appearances as Beauty does with Beast and returns to help him. My Prince Charming did the same. Even knowing all the basic nursing care he would have to provide, he took on the tasks as only a True Love would do. Because he is a Prince Charming, my one True Love who married to live happily ever after – for better or for worse.