Saturday, September 20, 2014

He Came From Scotland

     I think perhaps it's only human nature to "romanticize" a culture you admire but don't truly know enough about. As a teenager I loved listening to Sean Connery speak, yet found it funny when women swooned over his James Bond's "sexy British accent".  Um, that's not British.  It's Scottish.  I remember thinking, "Why can't they hear the difference?"
     I've always loved accents.  I don't know if it's the part of my brain which is creative and likes to write, or if I was lucky to be born with "a good ear"... hearing what some people miss. And what I hear stays with me.  Hubby says he can always tell when the British Wives' group has been at the Center because I'll use "lovey" or "Brilliant!", phrases foreign in my daily speech. In that group is a lady from Ireland and two from Scotland.  Interacting with the first one has me substituting "wee" for small for the rest of the day.  My Scottish ladies and I have an interesting relationship due to my never ceasing curiosity.  One is 90 years old, with a twinkle in her eye and a quick wit who likes to give hugs while telling me what a joy it is to see me.  No one else greets me like that.  The second, closer to my mother's age, was the one I sought out for a "translation".  I was reading a poem written as the Scottish speak (oh don't even go there about whether that's an actual language, lest you start an argument amongst the locals).  I asked for a definition of a few words I THOUGHT I understood, but wasn't sure.  She began reading the poem aloud, stopping occasionally to offer an explanation she thought was needed.  Yet as soon as she began to read, suddenly the words my eyes weren't sure of, my ears embraced.  Hearing them made the meaning clear.  Thrilled, I jumped in to  offer a definition in mid sentence, making her pause and beam because I'd gotten it right.  Finished, she gazed at me with a perplexed expression and asked,"You understood what I just read?"
     I replied, "I do now.  Because YOU read it.  YOU made it come alive for me." 
   Thinking I was merely being polite, she questioned, "But you understood WHAT I was saying?"  After my enthusiastic "Yes!", she shook her head and added, "I've been married to my husband (an American) for 20 years and his family still can't understand me.  But you do. You actually do.  How?"
     "I listened," was my reply. 
     Yet the truth was deeper.  I didn't tell her why.  Maybe I should have.  But how do you explain your love of her native tongue originated when you were ten and a kind Scotsman named Paul took the time to listen.  To me.
     In the South of my youth, children were raised to be quietly polite: speak when spoken to, otherwise let the adults talk while you listened and learned.  I was a shy child, so only offering, "No Sir" or "Yes Ma'am" wasn't all that difficult.  Shy children, however, learn a lot while listening to everyone else talk.
     Raised a Baptist, the church we attended had an annual "Revival".  For those not familiar, it was a chance for a preacher from another town to come in and, for a week, share with you familiar stories from the Bible.  But since he wasn't the man you listened to every Sunday, often his telling of the tales made more of an impact.  There was one young preacher the youth liked because he didn't talk over our heads to the adults, he spoke in a manner everyone understood.  Plus he didn't yell or thump his Bible which frankly, is rather terrifying to a kid...especially one with a vivid imagination who has created a pretty horrifying mental image of the Devil already without outsider assistance. 
     The year I was ten, this visiting preacher brought a friend named Paul, from Scotland.  For a little southern kid, the accent alone was a treat.  To this day, I can still see him.  Tall and broad shouldered, with hair dark as coal and the bluest eyes.  His smile was genuine and his laugh as deeply joyful as his voice.  He gave a lesson to our group prior to the main service, encouraging all of our questions, most of which had nothing to do with the lesson.  There was something so warm and caring about him.  As the last four of began to leave, he noted that my little wool tartan skirt made him a bit homesick. And that's when  something odd happened to shy little me.
     Amazed that an adult would admit such a thing I blurted out, "We learned to do the Highland Fling at school this year."
     Most adults would've said "That's nice", before hurrying the child along so he wouldn't be late.  Instead, without even looking at his watch, Paul sat back down and asked sincerely, "Would you show me?"
     I should've been embarrassed and refused.  That what shy kids do, after all.  Funny what happens when an adult takes the time to make a request instead of a demand.  As Paul began to whistle the very tune I'd learned to dance to, my feet began to move.  He merrily clapped the beat, cheering me on and applauding when I was done, telling me it was the finest Highland Fling he'd ever seen.  The other kids my age looked stunned.  I should've been.  But all I could hear was his softly uttered, "Thank you".  Never have two words sounded so heartfelt or exotically loving.
      The year was 1969 and things in the South were still racially charged.  At that evening's service, three young military men from the local Base came into the service at the last minute.  All were in uniform and quietly sat on the back row.  The soldier in the middle was black.  The good church people gasped, because churches were not integrated then.  One of the Deacons asked the man to leave while another called the Police.  I will never forget the eerie sight of blue lights flashing through the stained glass windows.  Or the feeling that it was wrong to ask the man to go, which he did respectfully and with no complaint.  His friends followed him out.  It made me feel awful.
     And then Paul spoke from the pulpit.  Many preachers would've pretended that what had just happened hadn't happened.  Paul had given apples to the congregation to share with others, just as, he stated,  God had shared his word with us.  In  a clear voice, he said, "I want you to stand now and leave in silence.  And as you walk out the door in silence, remember that God loves all of his children."  The congregation rose and filed out. No one spoke a word.  On one hand the silence was unsettling, because the adults all had odd looks on their faces.  As an adult, I now know that look was guilt.  It was the first time I understood you could lovingly admire a stranger for doing the right thing, for the right reason.  The greatest sermon I ever heard was Paul's last sentence, spoken softly, without anger, but with evident disappointment.  Yet my brain clung to the sound of a Scotsman saying God loved me, no matter what.
      I never saw Paul again. But he made a lasting impression on what it means to be truly kind and caring and compassionate.  He chose to stop for a few moments and make me feel worthy as a child.  Along the way, a Scottish accent became entwined with loving kindness until they were one and the same.
     I often wondered if Paul was the reason I wanted to find someone Scottish in my family tree.  Was he the reason I was inexplicably drawn to the "Isle of Skye"? Had I lumped little girl memories of an emotional night onto a foreign country and tied them together with a Scottish accent?
     Who knows?  But I have discovered that one of my Irish ancestors originally came to Ireland from Scotland.  Where in Scotland?  
     The Isle of Skye.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dear Scotland

Wishing you the best today as you decide on your future.
No matter what you decide, 
you are a strong people 
who will always have my respect.

Friday, September 12, 2014


My stat page just showed that I have made 911 posts...
as of 9/11.


Leaving you with today's thought.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In Memory

Of Sept. 11th

Friday, September 5, 2014

First, Do No Harm

While Hubby's surgeon was great at understanding this, I fear the majority of the medical staff we encountered after surgery were not familiar with the concept.  I understand those folks have a difficult job to do, but it's not easy to remember that when they keep telling you to get some rest...then take turns waking you up every 2 hours to "check" something. 

It wasn't the nurses who were the problem, (well, except for the chubby chick we dubbed "Nurse Ratchet" who'd had her personality/ability to care surgically removed).  No, it was all the "Specialists".  The surgeon came by the afternoon and morning after the surgery, then advised with a sigh, that he'd done his job and Hubby would have to deal with, "The others".  Sounded like a bad horror movie title... which wasn't far from the truth.

From taking blood to checking for skin breakdown (a mere 10 hours after surgery) and rotating physical therapists with contradictory advice,  there was the introduction of the newest medical fad: "The Hospitalist".  Interesting concept.  Take a physician who doesn't have a private practice, let them do a history on the patient, then check in from time to time to insure he/she is still breathing. Because even though the Hospitalist is a full fledged physician, another "Doctor" on call decided on the meds. When Hubby mentioned his recent trip to Africa, it's a good thing I was in the room.  I have to wonder about medicine when the spouse has to volunteer the trip's location was nowhere near the Ebola outbreak, because the Hospitalist was more interested in the animals which were seen.  Her reply to my information?  "Oh.  Well, I guess that's good to know."

Hubby's personal physician came by the next  morning and informed him with a grin,"Your chart is an interesting read.  Besides your total knee replacement, they noted you hunt in Africa."


But of all the future billings we will receive, there will be one from a "doctor" whose name I still don't know.  Probably because she never came any closer than one foot inside the door.  She did announce her name and rank among the medical experts, but she never laid a hand on Hubby.  In fact, she didn't even get close to him until the day of his discharge when he challenged her observation that he needed a CAT scan.  He inquired as to why, she stated she didn't like that his oxygen level went down the night before.  I wasn't there, but I can just hear Hubby telling her through gritted teeth that the level barely dropped and it was because he hadn't gotten more than 2 hours sleep there in 4 days!  She said he might have a pulmonary embolism, which is life threatening.  Hubby shot back that he had none of the symptoms and again questioned it. She listened to his chest and when he asked Doctor Who? if there was a problem, she merely walked out.  An hour later the test was canceled.  Two hours later I was taking Hubby home.

He's not exactly comfortable yet, but it's only been a week since surgery and today was Day 3 of outpatient physical therapy, which continues through early October.  His personal physician, who's also an archery customer, called us the first day home to see why the CT scan was canceled...and agreed with Hubby that in this case, it was medical overkill.  If the doctor had truly been concerned, a simple blood test would've made the determination.

So you may not hear much from me, but I'm still reading what you're up to.  It's a long road ahead, but I hear in the long run he'll be glad he did this.  Which is good...since he needs to have the other knee done as well.

Thanks for good thoughts and appeals to whatever you believe in to keep my patience level appropriate.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For Our Irish Singer

It's been a weird couple of days.  Hubby and I've been to several doctors' appointments leading up to his knee surgery.  It's one of those moments in life when you know it'll all work out, but you feel bad that your Beloved is going to feel lousy before he feels better.  But he's ready for it, so I have to be too.

Then talk turned yesterday to two of our senior citizens who are in nursing homes and who have, quite frankly, decided enough is enough.  One is 90 and just had a massive stroke, the other is 98 and sliding downhill much too slowly as she sees it.  It's hard to acknowledge that these two people I've known for almost 20 years might shuffle off while I'm gone. Then I remind myself of what they've shared with me...and that's a wonderful gift.

But when I got home, I discovered our much loved Irish Singer has had enough with the Internet highway.  I don't blame him.  When you have days that you begin to yell at the screen,"There can't BE this many stupid people!" it's time to take a break from the invisible people with the loud opinions.  Although it was with a heavy heart that I acknowledged his message with one of understanding, he didn't sever all ties.  He gave us a way to stay in touch.  A lovely, old fashion way which will guarantee that he hasn't heard the last of me.  

Funny how we take things for granted.  This morning I noticed that my work calendar has a motivational saying at the top of each week. Now I've had this thing since July 2013.   I've just ignored the writing on the top thinking it was probably trying to sell me something...or remind me to reorder a refill for the fancy book where it resides.  Today I discovered it had a message for me and me Irish Pal:

"The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance. 
Proceed, and light will dawn and shine 
with increasing clearness on your path."

Hmmm.  And I've been thinking about my path lately.  I have a direction in mind, but no map.  Which made me grin...cause I have a friend named Map.  And the card I received Monday was the first thing I thought of when he advised he was flying away. 

Just remember Friend, your other wing is in the South...and it's sister is further south...and north towards Canada.  After all, that birds of a feather thing must have some truth to it.  Take care.  We'll still be here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I was 16, going on 17

I've been busy trying to tie up loose ends before Hubby's knee replacement surgery on Aug. 28th.   Won't have much time for hobbies for a couple of weeks after least.  I was cleaning up some Family Tree info when I found this.

This was my 17th birthday 
and Hubby-to-be-one-day turned 18 the next month.  
Ah, youth.
(Hey Ponita...THERE's where that 23 inch waist was hiding!)