A Bit of My Roots
Raise a Glass With Me Tonight...
Should auld acquaintance be forgot…
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For Auld Land Syne
January 25 is Burns’ Night in Scotland.
I’ve never been in Scotland on this day. But I acknowledge January 25th every year.
Not because it’s Burns’ Night, although that’s a convenient bit of trivia. No, I acknowledge this day because it was also my grandfather’s birthday. Grandfather was the OG “Mac” in our family, the “Scotsman,” to his friends (although he was born in Florida lol). He studied our family heritage and first got me interested in being a McDonald from the Isle of Skye. So it’s sweet that a Scottish tradition falls on a day to honor him.
I think about my grandparents a lot, even though they’ve all been gone a long time. They were elemental to my childhood. Figures as dependable–sometimes more so–than my actual parents. My roots are important to me. Might seem odd, given how I’m always ready to explore. How I’m not afraid to flip life on its ear when the need arises.
But perhaps I leap into the Wild Unknown because of my roots. Maybe my grandparents’ love story inspires me to follow my heart. They sure did. My grandmother was engaged to another man when she met Grandfather. Almost 60 years of marriage says taking that risk was the right choice.
(I called him Grandfather, by the way, because he read me Heidi when I was very young. That’s what she called her grandfather, so the formal moniker stuck.)
My family is much more stable and steady than I am. Not that I’m fickle or flighty. Just that I don’t mind the discomfort of change nearly as much as them (as most people?). Trailblazer, I believe, is the kind term.
Grandfather was one of the most steadfast people you could imagine. He would patiently sit and work on a project, no matter how minute or time consuming. This man saved the tree tinsel year after year. Seriously. He would carefully pull each silvery thread from the tree and re-box it for the next Christmas tree.
I remember the day before he died, he was sitting on the sofa in my college apartment. My chenille throw blanket’s tassels had all gotten knotted. I mean, the thing had become a series of nests around the edges. But there was Grandfather, patiently picking them apart with his pocket knife.
Writing that made me tear up. Interesting. I suppose I hadn’t thought of that moment for a long time. Memory, unlocked, if you will.
If I am forward momentum, he was an anchor. But trailblazing is a hard role in life. It can be tiresome. There is a huge value in having anchors in your life. I think I’m able to be me because of the roots I had growing up. Because of the knowledge that people are in my corner. That is a thing I seek in romance and friendship. I don’t always pick the right people–see many of my previous articles–but I know it when I find it. I think of the kind of man my grandfather was. Of his patience and support. Even though I don’t get to see him anymore, I believe that that lives on in me.
He died long before I took the name Skye. He died before I learned to drink whiskey. He died before I even became a teacher. I know there have been many choices I’ve made that would not have pleased him. Many that he would not have understood. But I know too that he would’ve still been in my corner, steady and strong as I tried, failed, stumbled, and picked myself back up.
He would’ve laughed at the name Skye, but been proud at the same time. He would’ve loved to drink whiskey with me, as no one else in the family appreciates the beauty of a dram. And I think he would’ve been curious but also surprised at my stories as a teacher.
Grandfather would be 100 years old today. I share this very personal reflection to encourage you to consider your roots. What holds you up in the storms of life? What people, ideas, and memories give you the fortitude to keep going every time things get hard?
Your Turn (Comment Below!)
What do you need to feel supported?
Cheers, Grandfather. And cheers to you all.