I remember nights as a child when my father would play the piano and we would sing (neither of us could carry a tune in a bushel basket) "Annie Laurie," and "You take the high road, and I'll take the low, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye." (Are they the same song?) Dad was Scottish/Orange Irish and prized his heritage. When I was still young, Houston MacBain, CEO of Marshall Field and Co., was the MacBain of MacBain, the chief of the clan. He'd call Dad and talk about their common ancestry, and Dad always said if Houston MacBain wanted to think they're related, it was just fine with him. Today I have a piece of MacBain plaid carpet that Houston had woven, a hooked wall hanging that my mom did of the MacBain Clan crest, and a wonderful quilt of the plaid, with the crest in the center, that Colin and Lisa made for me one Christmas. Colin has the sword carried by a MacBain in the War of 1812 (okay, he was on the wrong side but still . . .) I'm not sure what happened to the kilt I had, but I know I couldn't fit into it now. But I am a paid up member of the clan--and maybe of Clan Chattan, the amalgamation of smaller clans of which the MacBean (real name) is part.
I've always said I don't care about London, Paris, or Rome, but I want to go to the Highlands. Well, now I'm going. Colin and Megan, my two oldest children, are going with me this spring. We'll fly into Heathrow just to change planes and then on to Edinburgh. Mostly we'll base ourselves in Inverness--the MacBain Memorial Park is near there, as well, I think, as the family burying ground (I always heard it was above Lochness) and the family homestead--how disappointing, it's a farmhouse, not a castle! I've written the current MacBain of MacBain (chief of the clan) for directions to pertinent spots. But we'll take day trips from there to places like Culloden, where Bonnie Prince Charlie lost his battle against the Redcoats, and maybe Glenco, where the Campbells killed all the MacDonalds (if it's close enough). I think we can go to Pitlochry, which is supposed to be a picturesque town, and there are plenty of castles near Inverness. It won't be a long trip--neither the kids nor I can afford that, but I will be in the Highlands, and I am excited even now.
My children know that I've always wanted to go to Scotland. I almost went three years ago with Jeannie, but then her husband had life-threatening surgery, long times in ICU, and a long recovery. She won't ever leave him that long again. But I had studied Scottish history in preparation and was all ready for the trip. I can't begin to say how wonderful it is that my kids want to go with me and see that I have that experience. I am notably not a good traveler, but in their hands I feel comfortable and safe--and very loved. I may get weepy and sentimental about this, but I am so fortunate.
My mystery is going to be published, and I'm going to Scotland! I'm sure good things, like bad, happen in threes. So what's next? Maybe I'll meet a diashing Scot. I've always been a sucker for a man in a kilt--even unattractive men take on a certain air in a kilt.
Somebody pull me down off the ceiling!