Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Mother's Legacy

The party for my mother's 90th birthday was yesterday. Family members came from as far away as the San Francisco area (and Seattle, of course) to celebrate. My mom was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and moved here when she was two with her parents and her older brother. Two more siblings -- a brother and then a sister -- were born after they immigrated. Both of her brothers, as well as my dad, have all passed on. But she and her sister continue to be close.

My Scottish grandmother's passport photo, showing my uncle on the left and my mother on the right

At first, when my sisters and I started planning the party, we tried to keep it a secret. But somehow she figured it out. No one spilled the beans, but despite being 90, she is still pretty sharp. Then we were going to surprise her with me showing up. But one day while talking to my oldest sister about the party, she said to her, "When Alison comes for the party..."

So, the one thing that we did manage to surprise her with yesterday was the arrival of a bagpipe player to play "Happy Birthday" to her. I grew up listening to bagpipes, and I know it may be hard to believe, but I find it very beautiful.

My mom on the left, her sister on the right, listening to the bagpiper

Pipers used to lead the Scottish army into battle, in hopes that the sound would frighten the opposing warriors. It probably did.

My mom has a bevy of great-grandchildren, all of them sweet, smart kids. They all call her GG.

(From left to right) Pony Girl, Little Man and Queen of All She Surveys (these three are the only ones who remember me)

Knight in Shining Armor, trying to figure out how to let Barnabas out of his kennel

Oldest Sister and brother-in-law holding Ninja Princess

Cutie-Pie (my brother-in-law's photo)

Peanut (my niece's photo)

I'm still in Massachusetts. I took a picture yesterday of a rose still blooming in my oldest sister's garden.


  1. What a wonderful post. I really enjoyed getting to know your family's history. America is an amazing place with amazing stories.

  2. Alison, what a wonderful delight for your mother, and your family (all ages) are all beautiful! Many blessings to you and enjoy those close to you for as long as you can.

  3. What a wonderful post, Alison. I do so enjoy learning a little (or a lot!) about the histories and lives of my blogging friends. My Mum is also of Scottish descent. Her Grandfather came to settle in SA when her Dad (my Grandfather, long deceased) was just a littlie, too. The family kept up all of their Scottish traditions and my Uncle was the lead piper in the Caledonian band in East London (SA) for many years. My Mum regards herself as proudly Scottish, although she was born in SA. They live in Australia now, where my sister and her family also live. We're the only ones left here.

    Your Mum looked so wonderfully delighted and happy at her party. What a super surprise you'd planned having the bagpiper there to entertain her and her sister. Such super photographs of everyone else, too. Beautiful little children! Gorgeous rose! So glad you're having a wonderful time visiting your family.

  4. Alison, that is so amazing. Thanks for sharing your mother's story. What struck me is how beautiful the passport photo is...a far cry from today's mug shots, isn't it?

    I am sure you'll love this blogger, Alison! She has just recently left two comments on my blog and I popped across to repay the courtesy. I have joined up as her newest follower.


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