Friday, January 8, 2010

In Memoriam II

These too have passed .......

Arthur Bolster and Ian Macdonald - the "Old Boys" - had known each other since they were in school together and were still fast friends. Ian and his wife Joy had the cottage next door and helped us settle in and learn the practicalities of village life. Arthur and Evelyn lived further down the road in a lovely house by the sea. The six of us shared dinners by the fireside and evenings of happy conversation ranging from war reminiscences to politics and philosophy. They are warm memories now.

Aggie Ross - irrepressible and bubbly with her red hair and short skirts and warm hospitality. She was a national treasure for her work with the preservation of the Gaelic language and traditions. We would go over for tea and pancakes and she would patiently teach Jack to sing a few songs in Gaelic such as John Alec's favorite "Fear A Bhata" - which Jack learned to sing without his "dreadful American accent".

Sally Drake - our lovely dark-eyed neighbor, mother of our little kitchen visitor, owner of the cat-who-shall-remain-nameless, and later Coigach's district nurse. She was charming and funny, and was taken from us way, way, way too soon. We are so lucky to have known her and had her next door for the years we lived in the village.

Charmian Longstaff - laird of the Badentarbet Estate, artist, mountain climber, explorer and fisherwoman. We'd meet her striding along by the lochs in her fore-and-aft hat and tweeds or at the Anglican church services, which she hosted at the lodge. We enjoyed her company and admired her paintings and spent some fascinating evenings listening to her stories about the London Blitz ("I never felt so alive") and her explorations with her husband Tom in Nepal. She was a rare character indeed.

Stookie was young when we lived in the village - a somewhat troubled but very likeable lad. We spent many sunny days shearing sheep or sharing a dram at the Fuaran. We were very sad to hear that he had died so young after finally getting his life in order. May he rest in peace.

Ian Roll - fisherman, shepherd, tour guide and captain of the Hectoria, his wooden fishing /cum tour boat. His speech was slow and measured and he always had a hand-rolled cigarette dangling from his lips. He had a droll sense of humor but you'd have to listen carefully or you'd miss it.

Ian's wife Hectoria was post mistress and always had a cheery greeting and time for a natter. She knew us well enough to forward a call for Jack, which came in from Ullapool to the Post Office one Saturday afternoon, from an American friend visiting London to Jack's usual Saturday location in the Fuaran pub.

Their son still takes tourists out in the newer boat Hectoria to enjoy the view and wildlife among the Summer Isles - but I would miss Ian's slow drawl and the old wooden boat.

The first time I met Donnie Post (or Roll) he was delivering the mail to Castlehill and I thought him a most handsome chap! He also made a truly ugly stepsister in the village Pantomime during our first Christmas in Coigach.

His wife Hilary was Joan's niece. She sent us a lovely letter when Joan died telling us of Joan's last days. You can read it in the book if you like.

Kenny Campbell - beloved son of Anne Irish and Ian Campbell was just a young lad when we knew him in Achiltibuie. He had moved out of the village after completing his schooling to make his way in the world, and he was taken way too young - the victim of a devestating accident. Our hearts go out to his grieving parents and sisters.

There were others in that graveyard that we knew during our years in Coigach - some young, some who were old when we lived there. All of them were part of a community that was our world during what were the best years of our lives. They made that part of our journey rich with their love and warmth and friendship - and we will always be grateful for the privilege of having known them and for having been welcome in their world for those wonderful years.


Callie said...

Just wondered, did you know a man called Charlie Mackay when you were up there? From Altandhu.

Barbara Maloney said...

Sorry - we didn't know Charlie. But it's nice to get comments - thanks for coming along on the ride.

Callie said...

Aw ok then. My Gran, Grandad, Auntie and Uncle all lived there. Iv been goin up every year since i was born (18 years haha) love it best place ever.

Velma said...

just ordered the wee mad road and am loving reading it. savoring it. found your site on melissa's blog--so glad i did.