scandinavia university

Chapter 36

July 30, 2015: Drottningholm Palace:

Lucy and Isak wake up early for a day of engagements. This would be the first time Lucy was going to be introduced to her future duchy of Uppland. They would first be in the town of Uppsala to visit Uppsala University where they would be opening a new library. Uppsala University is the oldest university in Scandinavia. Then, they would head to Stockholm to meet with representatives of the Swedish ALS Foundation. Lastly, they would travel by boat to the small town of Öregrund to meet the people gathered and to tour the wooden houses and stone church. 

Lucy chose a pair of black pants and beige, flared sleeved top to wear with her nude LK Bennet pumps. Afraid of a possibly windy day, she wore her hair in a ponytail with simple pearl earrings and a silver watch. 

As they were being driven to Uppsala, Isak squeezed Lucy’s hand and said, “You will do great. Don’t be nervous.”

“It’s hard not to be. My Swedish is not good enough to be able to converse with the people, and I’m afraid they won’t like that.”

“It’s ok. Most here in Sweden speak English, and they are going to respect you learning their culture and language. Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day!”

“I know…,” Lucy says as she stares out the window. 

“Hey,” Isak says sweetly, “We are going to your favorite place in the world - a library. You will be in your element.”

With that she smiled, and soon she was stepping out of the car to a flurry of flashing lights. Isak comes around the car to her side, and they turn to smile at the awaiting media. Then, Lucy walks up to the little girl with bright blue eyes holding a bouquet of purple lilies. She bends down to the little girl who smiles and hands them to her. Lucy smiles back and says, “Tack så mycket. vad heter du?”

“Clara,” the girls says shyly. 

“Well these flowers are beautiful. Thank you for giving them to me.”

The girl’s mother translates to her daughter and then tells Lucy, “She chose purple lilies because she did research into your college sorority. She saw that lilies were the flower of it and one of the colors was purple.”

“Aw that is so sweet!” Lucy says. She bends down again, “Kan jag få en cram?”

The little girl nods and gives Lucy a big hug. Her mother then tells Lucy, “You are too kind to her. And thank you for speaking a bit of Swedish with her. I know you are just learning so it is difficult, but you are doing a great job. I’m sure you’ve had good teachers.”

Lucy smiled and said, “Thank you for the compliment. I have had great people to teach me like the family. Estelle has been wonderful teaching me little sayings! That’s how I learned to ask for a hug!”

Isak then puts his hand on her back to lead her inside, but not before Lucy could wave at the little girl and her mother. 

They greet the administrators inside the new library, and Isak goes to make a speech. 

“God morgon. Tack för att du har Lucy och jag här idag. Jag hoppas att du inte har något emot om jag ger detta tal på engelska eftersom Lucy fortfarande lär sig språket. This is her first event here in Sweden, and I know you all want her to feel comfortable. So, I’ll continue in English. We are both thrilled to be here, and I’m so happy to be able to introduce Lucy to all of Uppland and Sweden.”

The crowd interrupts with applause before he continues, “This library means a lot to my family. Reading is a passion for all of us. Though my father, siblings and I all suffer from dyslexia, we found solace in books after tutors were able to help us deal with our disability. We are pleased that this library will play a central role for those here at Uppsala University and the community, as a whole who are struggling with the disability that plagues so many. We are honored that you have chosen to name it after my beloved grandfather who we, including my father, did not have the ability to know. I’m sure he is looking down and pleased to know how much help this library will provide. Thank you all for coming and naming it after him.”

Lucy and Isak then unveil a plaque for the new Prince Gustaf Adolf Library.

Their next stop was in Stockholm where they met with representatives of the ALS Foundation in Sweden at their headquarters. Lucy took the lead during this engagement and explained why the disease was close to her heart. 

“I want to thank all of you for meeting with us. ALS is a disease with too little funding and research, and as you all know, few know and understand the disease. I was one such person until my mother was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year. I know see first hand what so many others have suffered from for many years. ALS advocacy will be a focal point of my work as your new princess, and I hope that, together, we can truly make a difference to where ALS will be no more.”

The Royal Court had prepared to video her remarks to post them on the monarchy’s website, YouTube and Instagram to explain more about Lucy and the work she would be doing for Sweden. They were posted online within moments of the couple boarding the boat in Stockholm to travel to the small town of Öregrund.

They arrived in Öregrund around an hour later and were greeted by the mayor of the town at the harbor. Many of the residents had gathered at the harbor to see the couple; as a result, they decide to do an impromptu walkabout there before heading to the center of town where they would do another. The crowds loved their down to earth manner and getting to meet their future princess in person. 

After arriving at the center of the town, they proceeded on their second walkabout where a group of teenage girls were squealing to see the handsome prince. Lucy laughed and asked them, “Would you all like a photo with him?” They all shook their heads enthusiastically while Isak looked dumbfounded at the attention. Lucy took one of the cameras and took the photo, and much to her amusement, as she snapped the picture, the two girls on each side of Isak kissed him on the cheek. Isak turned bright red as Lucy said, “I guess I have some competition!”

The couple were then given a private tour of the stone church and wooden houses before they greeted some of the assembled media before returning home. They smiled for photos and answered a few questions thrown their way. One reporter asked Lucy what she thought of her first royal engagement and her future duchy. She smiled and said, “I really enjoyed it. The people here are so friendly and welcoming. I’m so glad to have gotten to meet so many of them and look forward to many more visits and meetings in the future!”

“How do you think she did today, Your Royal Highness?”

Isak responded, “Very well. I’m very proud of her, and it was great to see how loved she already is by the people.”

Another asked Lucy, “Were you nervous at all?”

“Oh, of course. I was quite nervous at the beginning but having Isak with me really calmed my nerves, as did the wonderful people I met today.”

“We heard you speaking some Swedish earlier today, how is learning the language?”

“I did speak a bit this morning to the young girl who was sweet enough to bring me flowers. Learning a new language is a process, but I am working on it every day. It’s difficult, but I am determined.”

Isak interrupted, “She is doing a wonderful job and is more advanced than she believes. She just has to be more confident speaking it, and that will come.”

They were then asked how the wedding planning was going to which Isak responded, “Rather well I’d say.”

“You gave a heartwarming and touching speech at the ALS headquarters today, Lucy. First of all, we are all so very sorry to hear of your mother having the disease, and it is brave of you to speak out so openly. Are we to assume that will be one of your first patronages?” another asked.

“Thank you, and yes, that is my plan. ALS advocacy is a passion of mine, and I will work tirelessly for awareness and raising funds for research.”

Isak then thanked the media for their questions, and they headed back to their car to Drottningholm Palace. Lucy only had a couple more days in the country before she was going to return home for a while to help care for her mother. 

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September 5, 2015: Neyland Stadium:

Lucy and her parents arrived to their parking location and were happy to have a handicapped parking tag to park closer to the bus to get them to the stadium. Significant walking was beginning to really take a toll on Ann. They waited at the bus stop and were driven to the stadium across campus. They walked up a less steep ramp to their seats in JJ. They had to stop several times to allow Ann to breathe. When they were to JJ, Thomas walked down the stairs ahead of Ann while Lucy walked behind her to get to Row 3. They enjoyed the game, but it took a lot out of Ann to get back up the stairs and hill to the bus. 

The next week was a bit harder, and they realized that Ann could no longer walk up the two ramps to their seats. After a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma at home, the family decided they would have to make a change. Ann would only relent to accepting the elevator ride; she was determined to walk the rest of the way. She did not want the disease to slow her down or defeat her. The next week, after a note from the doctor sent to the athletic department, a elevator pass was given for Ann. Ann and Thomas rode the elevator up to the upper level and, thanks to Thomas knowing an usher, were escorted through the press box to make the walk shorter to their seat. Lucy did not want to take up room in the elevator for someone else who needed it, so she walked the ramp and waited on her parents at their section. 

September 26, 2015: Washington D.C.:

Will had flown his family up for the pre-season game on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, and they were staying in his townhouse for the weekend. They were able to watch the Tennessee game against Florida on television. It took place in Florida, and the Vols almost had it won. It was the team Ann wanted to see the Vols beat so badly. She kept telling her children and husband that she just wanted to see the Gators get beat by the Vols. For her, that was winning the championship. The kicker made a valiant effort to kick a 52 yard field goal but was wide right. Ann was crushed, and Lucy more so. 

While Thomas, Will and Ann went out to dinner, Lucy stayed at the apartment. She locked herself in her room and bawled her eyes out. She was angry and crushed for her mother. She was angry at God for letting her mother be in pain and see that loss. She turned her phone off and drank a bottle of wine. She finally fell asleep before her parents returned, worried that she did not pick up her phone. She then felt guilty for putting them through stress due to her breakdown.

Luckily, the next day, the family had prime parking beside the stadium with an elevator pass and sat in Will’s family box. They all enjoyed the game as the Redskins beat the Colts 35-20. They returned home just a couple of days later.

October 10, 2015:

Lucy’s sorority sisters came in for the game against Georgia and stayed at their home in Wheat. Her friends offered to stay somewhere else so not to impose knowing Ann’s condition. However, Ann and Thomas were insistent. Ann wanted the girls there, and their trip to Wheat made her weekend. She tried her best to dote on them while they were there. Her strength and determination to not let the disease slow her down was inspirational to them all. 

The girls went to Neyland Stadium to watch the Vols play the Dawgs. It was a nerve-wracking game, and by the fourth quarter, Lucy was about sick to her stomach. The Vols had mounted a comeback, and there were just a few seconds left on the clock. Georgia had to pull a Hail Mary and throw to the end zone if they wanted to win. The quarterback received the snap and dropped back to pass. He threw a perfect spiral to the right corner of the end zone where the Tennessee cornerback batted it down. The Vols had won over one of their biggest rivals, and Lucy was in tears because she was so happy. They had beaten the Dawgs for the first time in five years.

When they got home, she ran in the house to her mother. She have Ann a big hug and said, “Oh Momma! They won that just for you!!!” 

Ann was crying tears of joy, too. 

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November 14, 2015:

Lucy woke up at 4am and was driven to Tennessee’s campus for morning practice. She was getting the chance to twirl once again, but this time with the alumni band during the pregame parade and halftime. 

Thomas’s niece knew someone who was able to get Ann and him two tickets in the handicapped section of Neyland. Ann had been unable to make a game since Western Carolina when she used the elevator. Ann was thrilled to be able to go to another game, this time in a wheelchair, to see her daughter twirl on the field once more. 

When Lucy stepped onto the field, she turned to see her mother smiling brightly at her from the wheelchair section. She said a silent prayer to God to allow her to twirl the best and be as perfect as could be for her mom. She knew this was possibly the last time she would see her twirl. 

After performing perfectly with the other alumni majorettes, she turned to see her mother. She had tears in her eyes just looking at how happy her mother looked while looking at her. It was all she could do not to go into hysterics on the field. She thanked God for the performance and her mother being there. 

November 26, 2015: Thanksgiving Day:

Isak decided to fly over to the States to celebrate Thanksgiving with Lucy’s family. He arrived on Tuesday ahead of the holiday on Thursday. That morning, they woke up to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Ann’s family had told her not to bring anything, but she, again, was determined. She made her traditional pecan pies the evening before, and Lucy made the sweet tea, mashed potatoes and deviled eggs the next morning before traveling to her uncle’s house to celebrate the holiday. 

It was a sombre type holiday because Ann was no longer the Ann they all remembered. She could not talk and was getting strangled with almost every bite she took. She was losing a lot of weight and eating little. Lucy was glad Isak was there to comfort her as she watched her mother struggle. As they left her uncle’s house, everyone made sure to give Ann a hug. 

No one knew at the time that Ann had made a decision that would change everything. She was going to get a feeding tube.