Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Anne Of The Thousand Days

When I was first diagnosed with ALS, on that fateful day in late November, 2012, the neurologist came in to deliver the difficult news. In keeping with her sense of who I was and how I preferred information, good or bad, she was simple and direct. First she said, "We are pretty sure you have ALS. We want to do some more tests, but that is what we think this is." I sat for a moment, barely a moment, digesting this information. Thanks to my own interest in so many things, I was already aware of what ALS was, and what happened to those with ALS.

After my moment, the barest of all possible moments, I said to the neurologist, "How long?' You see, I already knew the prognosis; what I didn't know for sure was the duration. She said, "We think about 36 months." You might think all kinds of things would enter my head, questions about what would happen to me and how I was going to live. Those questions were certainly there, and would certainly be asked by me and so many others. Yet the one thing that sprang into my mind almost immediately was Anne Of The Thousand Days.

Anne Of The Thousand Days is a movie about the period of time when Anne Bolyen was Queen of England alongside the rather cruel and dangerous Henry VIII. In the movie, Anne was played by Genevieve Bujold, a beautiful young Canadian actress from Montreal who exuded sexuality and desire, much like the stories we hear of the real Anne. Henry was played by Richard Burton, in all his regal virility. However it was not the movie, nor the charms of Genevieve Bujold that came to mind, but simply the title.

Anne Boleyn was Queen of England for 1,084 days, from May 28, 1533 to May 17, 1536. While she had been in the court of Henry VIII for some time before this as Maid of Honour to Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, and though he had been pursuing her since her engagement in 1523 to Henry Percy, son of the 5th Earl of Northumberland, Henry did not manage to lure her into marriage until more than 10 years after their first contact.

History records her as being a political person, crafted in the ways of power. She was well known as sexually alluring and beautiful. She managed her relationship with Henry as an equal until she committed that most vile of sins in his eyes. She delivered unto him a daughter, the child who was to become Elizabeth I. For this, and most likely only this, he sought to annul their marriage and have Elizabeth declared illegitimate. Anne refused, paying the ultimate price for this refusal.

She lived for a thousand days as Queen of England, a thousand days. That is what I thought about when the neurologist said "we think about three years". I wonder if Anne would have accepted Henry's proposal had she known. On the other hand, what choice had she? He was King, and she was his subject. To refuse would be do die, to accept was to live, at least for a thousand days.

It has been 517 days since I was diagnosed.

1 comment:

  1. I pray you have more good time Rick. love Mom.

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