Out for 99

We’ll probably get a warm day or two in the weeks ahead and days of pristine blue sky and golden sun, but I feel safe to say that the weather has turned. Behind us are the sunny months of Summer. Ahead are the dim days of Winter.

For the first time this year, I have the heater on in the house. Last night I swapped the light alpaca wool blanket I keep on my bed in the warmer months for the thick doona, which was last on my bed in November. It’s cold outside, and sporadic showers gust across the sky. I like it.

I don’t know if others experience it the same way, but I find my mode of thinking changes with the seasons. Perhaps not surprisingly, I become more introspective with the cooler weather, and my gaze shifts from the immediate to somewhere further into the future. I may be wrong, but I feel as if I do my best writing when the days are darker and colder, and I’m bundled up warmly in the cocoon of my home.

I was sitting in the window of a bar Thursday night sipping on a mojito with the weather near 30 degrees. By the next day, it was much cooler. From one day to the next, the seasons flipped. Summer will come again, the cycle will repeat long after I’m gone, but with the cool weather came the news midway through Friday evening that another era was coming to a close. Prince Philip had died at the ripe old age of 99.

It’s surprising how much news this event has triggered. He’s been sick for a while, and it was hardly a surprise. And, geez, 99 – he did well! And yes, I know, the royals are always big news – but I was taken aback, as so many were, by the time devoted to his life and death in the news services and across the media.

For the record, I like him. He was famous for his gaffes, though he was much more than that. I enjoyed the fact that he was an individual when the fact of royalty seems to suppress individuality. He was of another time and way of being and had lived long enough and seen so much that he seemed indifferent thas o what others thought of him. That’s always an attractive trait, I think. I didn’t need to agree with him to appreciate his wit, and I would shrug my shoulders at much of his commentary. I prefer people to be themselves than be cardboard cut-outs.

I believe he had a strong heart and a great aptitude for duty. His was a tough job standing behind the queen, but he never failed in that duty. There’s something old-fashioned about that, and quite admirable. They were married for 73 years, and it’s clear the queen adored him, and his children cherished him. He’s one of those guys I’d have liked to have a drink with.

I read a story about him this morning which revealed his tender side. After JFK was assassinated, the royals went to Washington and were staying in the Whitehouse. One morning, Jackie was looking for her son, John Jr, and opened a door to find the Prince playing and laughing with JFK’s infant son. It was a thoughtful, sensitive action of a man who loved kids and had a tender side rarely exposed to view.

He had a good go. It’s sad for the family. Soon, the whole era will be past us.

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