The bedrock of family and fiction
My Grandmother was a war bride. I never really understood what that meant as a kid. I assumed it meant she’d left her country to marry a man she’d met during the war. And it does. It does mean that. But I’ve realized over the years that it means so much more.
I learned during my early school days that the province I call home: Nova Scotia means New Scotland. Because of the heritage of this long strip of land surrounded on three sides by Atlantic ocean, it’s named for my grandmother’s home. I imagine that despite her love for her new beau, it must have given her some pause, some sense of comfort and security, that she’d be moving to a place that would seem like her own home. The name must have taken some of the fear away.
She’d seen hardship in Glasgow. I know this. I imagine the hardships she faced were even more daunting here if only because the support system we all take for granted was gone. She had no family to run to when she and her new husband fought. She had no mother to coddle her when she nursed her first born and struggled with trying to figure out what it meant to be a mother, how to make formula, change diapers, calm the squalling in the middle of the night. She had no friends to relieve the stressful hours with chitchat over a hot cup of tea.
And she had no one to turn to when she and this new husband realized they’d made a mistake.
I think she went home once, packed up my mother and rode the waves back to Scotland. I wonder what they thought of her back there: was she a failure, were they excited to see her? She had brothers who I don’t doubt would have torn my grandfather limb from limb if they’d been able to get hold of him. (what brother wouldn’t feel such fierce protectiveness over a hurt sister? See: my blog post about my own brothers)
But she returned to Nova Scotia and she stayed here. My mom tells me stories of her walking home from work in the winter. They had no car and ‘work’ was 10 kms away, in the town. I think of the 10km drive from my house to my work and it takes 15 minutes. What must it have been like to walk to work everyday, work, and then walk home. So you can feed a family, put clothes on your three girls’ backs?
I only know that in the story, my grandmother’s nylons are torn and holey in places. Her shoes are soaked. She’s wet and cold from the snow. I take snow in the winter for granted. I just assume the snowfall is going to be a foot high with temperatures below freezing and a wind chill that gains fierceness from the Atlantic air. In Scotland, the average precipitation is 9cm in January. The average low temperature is 1degree.
In the story, my grandmother doesn’t complain. Just hangs her threadbare coat behind the stove and asks for a good hot cup of tea.
That hardy Scots will, I suppose, as hard as the brogue that never left her despite living in an area where English and Acadian French mix to form an odd sort of accent that most folks in my area call Fringlish. How she must have stood out in that.
What kept her here, I don’t know, but I imagine it had to do with family. Her new family. Those three girls married and had kids of their own. Her grandchildren–my brother and I especially–practically lived there. We ate pizza late at night in her bed and watched The Rockford Files. She made me Koolaid and told me tales of Nessie and Robbie Burns.
Is it any wonder I’ve remained fascinated with Scotland?
If you liked this post, I would muchly appreciate a tweet or share. In fact, I’d be so happy to have a tweet that if you make sure to include the hashtag #theagimmesome, I’ll enter you into a weekly draw to win an ebook. This week: Throwing Clay Shadows. It’s my new release, and is set in Scotland on the Isle of Eigg in the 1800s mostly because my family originated there.
If you’re not sure what to tweet, I even have one drafted for you:
what is your heritage? read blog post and tweet for entry to win an ebook by @theaatkinson. #theagimmesome http://bit.ly/pm3iEU
The new release Throwing Clay Shadows will be on sale for its first month for 99cents. Please do at least sample or better yet, click on through from the picture to pick it up . It costs less than a Timmie’s coffee.