Daniel, Sean and I lived in Glasgow: the city which looks as though someone poured a bucket of Grey all over it. If an ounce of sunlight peeped through people walked a little bit faster and smiled a bit bigger.
During our stay we drove up to Forfar and Dundee. Actually we went to visit some friends we met in Nepal up in PitKennedy. Alisdair and Heather lived in the school house in PitKennedy. On our way up to see them we had to admit Scotland's raw beauty was intoxicating. There was nothing subtle or gentle about the landscape. The rugged hills, the old stone bridges, the flowers bursting up out of nowhere and the biting cold. Oh yes, the wind was not gentle in the least. It bit right through any coat or covering you might use as protection.
I took back from Scotland not only memories of the beauty but an unusual friendship. I was living in Rutherglen just outside of Glasgow. My days filled up with work and taking care of Sean; I also was pregnant. In between boat rides on the lake, bus rides through the city and walks in the park, I managed to became very ill. After a visit to the Rutherglen hospital, the doctors informed me I needed to be admitted otherwise I might lose my baby.
The first day I lay in the hospital bed thinking about my husband and son struggling all by themselves at home. Hormones or just general emotions got the better of me and sometimes I allowed a tear to slide down my cheek. On the second day, I determined to put away the silverware from my 'pity party' and stop feeling sorry for myself. I slipped out of bed and tottered out the door. Peeking into the room next to me, I discovered there was a pleasant looking woman resting serenely in bed.
She looked around to see who the 'hi' was coming from.
"Hi," I said again, a bit louder this time.
"Oh, hello! Come on in."
It didn't take a second invitation to get me in the room. I positioned myself at the end of her bed and we began to chat. I soon discovered she needed to be on complete bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. (which would be another couple months) My week in bed suddenly didn't sound so awful. It became a daily routine, me toddling into her room and sitting at the end of her bed and chatting with her. I don't remember how we would start or finish our conversations. I don't even recall what we talked about. I do remember those visits as being the reason I was able to 'make it through' my stay at the hospital. I found a friend.
We exchanged addresses. In those days, it was regular post and not email. We wrote each other even as I traveled from country to country. The letters told of our children's progress. They filled us up with news of the progression of our lives. Months separated each of the letters, but when the time came to write them they picked up where the last letter left off.
Now 20 years later- in 2008, I sit with a letter which just arrived from Scotland. It is from my friend, Margaret. She thanks me for my daughter's lovely graduation announcement. She tells me about Miriam's pursuit of a medical degree; she continues to tell me of Matthew's desire to be a pilot. She weaves in the events of the past year with all the ups and downs. I don't want the letter to end.
I will write back to tell her of Sean's upcoming wedding. She will hear more about Katrina and her latest exploits. Cassandra's future plans will have to be included. Of course pictures need to be enclosed. Once the stamp is firmly in place, I'll send the letter to Scotland. I will look forward to many more years of words and pictures being exchanged. Who would have guessed a stay in a hospital in Rutherglen, Scotland could produce such an unusual friendship!