Even before I reached school age, I started a lifelong love affair with reading. And in those long ago days of childhood, I often lost myself in the excitement of fairy tales.
I spent long, enchanted hours deep in the world of princes and princesses, magic potions, wicked witches, castles and flying carpets. By the time I had reached my teen years... and switched to Nancy Drew mysteries... I had experienced countless make-believe adventures thanks to Hans Christian Anderson and his contemporaries.
One of my favorites in the realm of fairy tales was the classic story of Cinderella.
The hard-working girl, the dashing prince, the royal ball and the glass slipper... all worked together to take me on a timeless journey from "once upon a time..." to "happily ever after."
Even as a little girl, I dreamed a handsome prince would one day come into my life. Love, of course, would bless our meeting and we'd live in a castle designed for happily ever aftering.
Like all young girls, I left the fairy tales behind long ago. But recently I realized my life has managed to duplicate some of the high points of the Cinderella story.
I was in my early twenties when my Prince Charming, George, came into my life.
Although we were far removed from the royal- ball lifestyle that so impressed young Cinderella, George and I frequently joined the crowds at the dances held by the Service Mens' Center.
Unlike Cinderella, I was never presented with a glass slipper. But, one happy day my Prince did slip an engagement ring on my trembling finger. It was followed by the most elegant treasure of all, a simple wedding band.
Not long after that, we moved into our "castle," a modest ranch-style, but royal enough to fill my heart with joy.
Time brought two junior princesses and one junior prince to the castle. And, as the years passed, our royal family moved on to new kingdoms and other castles.
It's been quite a while since I've given that favorite Cinderella tale any thought. But yesterday, it suddenly occurred to me that I'm still living my life in parallel to the story's heroine.
What brought the idea to mind was an activity we repeat every morning, now that Prince George and I have entered the age of AARP. Each day, instead of fitting me with a glass slipper, George helps me don the less attractive but more supportive elastic stockings prescribed by my doctor.
And, as the day progresses into evening, instead of preparing to participate in a royal ball, we both settle into our recliners to watch the evening news and perhaps a bit of television.
Unlike Cinderella and her young prince who danced till midnight, we usually toddle off to bed before 10, leaving later hours to those with better staying power.
Yes, fairy tales like Cinderella were a favorite part of my long-ago childhood. Their once-upon-a-time openings always took me on magical adventures.
But it's been a lifetime since I left those stories of make believe worlds behind. Still, looking back I realize my prince and I have enjoyed more than our share of happily-ever-after times together.