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Charlotte Juarez's Going Home
Monday, March 31 - Bidding Farewell


March 31, 2003
Mingalar House, Edinburgh

So, here I am on my last day in my home country before returning to my home and family in the United States.

Heaven certainly smiled on all of us during these three vacations in one – the first with Nan and Xylia to prepare for my mother’s burial; the second to celebrate my mother’s life with added family of Stephanie, Nathan, Tina and Edie; and the third being Girls’ Road Trip to share the Scotland my mother showed me with Lia, Suzanne, Robbie, Nickie, Belinda and Kari.

It has been wonderful, perfect, flawless. Many adventures, discoveries, memories flashing back to me again and again, laughs and overall coming together. We had beautiful weather, including as Belinda said to me, times when "This country is beautiful even in the mist."

We met wonderful Scottish people everywhere we went. Lia’s comment was, "Everyone is so friendly, polite, helpful and patient and generous."

Kari hated to leave. She loves Scotland and our history and culture so much that I wonder if, in a previous life (if there are previous lives) she weren't born a Scot. Thinking back to the little joke about God creating Scotland and her people so wonderfully, perhaps in our pre-existence, she sneaked up behind God so she could get the "best seat in the house" as this land grew by God’s hand out of the mist.

I took care of my last piece of business today by spending the day in the Scottish Registry Office learning how to use their computer, microfiche and microfilm systems, and wandered around the records of so many of our ancestors. I had a really good day playing with dead people, collecting some new information – when I retrieved my mothers birth certificate I was reminded of her once saying to me that her "real" name was Carolina, not the Carol she went by or the Caroline she admitted to on occasions when her "Sunday name" was required. Lo, and behold, there on the official document, signed by my Granny as her mother, was her birth certificate name of Carolina. I smile a little at how much fun I could have had with my mother if I had remembered this slip of a family secret before she died. Carolina, indeed.

I also learned that the father of my mother’s brother, born in 1929, was a member of one of Dundee’s influential jute factory families (Neish) listed on the birth certificate as occupation of "jute manufacturer" and that the second marriage of Jean Duncan (widowed as Benvie) (from the Duncans of Lundie, Admiral Duncan and all that fame) was into another jute manufacturing family (Morrison.) Hopefully, these clues will help me move forward back into my past. I imagine I’ll be starting research on Dundee’s jute industry pretty soon.

News reports are that this past month’s weather in Scotland has been the warmest and driest in fifty years – flowers are out, trees are budding, etc., but the weather report that’s on TV as I write this says rain and snow are expected beginning tomorrow. We were truly blessed on this trip.

So, what’s next?

Simply a plan to return as often as I can to keep my connections to my homeland firm in my family’s understanding of their Scottish roots, and strong enough for them to pass down to their children to build a foundation of history, beauty and wonder in their lives through as many generations as I possibly can.

***

Postscript
April 1, 2003
USAir somewhere over Long Island, NY, USA

It’s 8:30 p.m. Scotland time, who knows what time it is in Long Island, over which the captain announced we’re currently flying.

The day began in Edinburgh rainy after a night of heavy showers and strong winds that rattled the shutters in my room at Mingalar where I was the night’s sole guest, by the way. It was a beautiful sleeping night – reminding me of the gales that can blow up to Edinburgh and Dundee from their respective firths.

But when I stepped outside to wait for my taxi to the airport, a glorious rainbow appeared overhead. It was so clear that I could identify each of its seven colours as it arched over Broughton and Edinburgh’s New Town.

What a beautiful message to give myself on this last day of a very special visit home, I thought, This trip was meant to be, glorious weather throughout and a rainbow to wish me "haste ye back." (Everybody think, "Aaaaaah.")

The airport was filled with men in kilts, members of the tartan army of Scotland’s soccer supporters off to Continental Europe to support the national team in the upcoming international match against Lithuania – a group of them agreed to pose for me when I told them the women I work with asked me to bring back at least one good snap of men in kilts – hope it comes out a good one.

All the Edinburgh flights were delayed because of weather, so I had plenty of time (hate to be hurried, anyhow, almost as much as I hate having to deal with unpunctuality by others) to relax before my uneventful flight to Gatwick.

Again, no stress, plenty of time to get over to baggage claim (my luggage couldn’t go through because my scheduled flight was brought forward an hour, meaning I was going to have to make my own connection to a different flight and get a new ticket for my rerouting at the USAir counter) then over by the free shuttle train to South Terminal to take care of business.

By the way, I love these two British airports: lots of luggage "trolleys" – and all of them free! Not like at Phoenix Sky Harbor where it’s two bucks a shot.

I also had plenty of time to wander around the duty free shops and spend my remaining dollars on a little crystal wedding gift for Tina and her intended, Steve.

This is good.

Settled into my seat, and in the air, safe and secure, I hauled out my "Dynasty" book about the Stuarts and finished it off on the way home.

And as I now fly nearer into Philadelphia, going home to close out this trip, my heart sings because I have my hopes and my dreams to come back another year to see my ain folk again and, at least, in spirit, bring my children of Scotland with me.

Scotland Again

I dream, I dream
Of Scotland again
From the plain to the western shore;
I dream, I dream
Of women and men
Who will stand for their homeland once more

Caledonia! Caledonia!
My heart and my hand
Are reaching in peace to you.
Caledonia! Caledonia!
My dearest green land
The place where my dreams come true.
When the wild roses bloom over mountain and shore
Then I’m dreaming of Scotland once more

I sing, I sing
Of Scotland again
Where the folk of my heart can hie.
I sing my song
Of river and glen;
Where there’s freedom of spirit for you and I.

Caledonia! Caledonia!
My heart and my hand
Are reaching in peace to you.
Caledonia! Caledonia!
My dearest green land
The place where my dreams come true.
When the wild roses bloom over mountain and shore
Then I’m dreaming of Scotland once more.

(Valerie Dunbar, Always Argyll
Recorded on IGUS LABEL by KLUB Records Ltd, Hillington, Glasgow)


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