Ten years ago I made the decision to walk Scotland’s West Highland Way and Great Glen Way to celebrate my 50th birthday. The half-century celebration was a 297km solo trek through the Highlands. Starting near Glasgow, and ending in Inverness.
The walk took 13 days, then I headed to Aberdeen to meet some very distant relatives. It was a first for me… actual blood relations! A joy few adopted people get to experience.
My goal in going to Scotland was to dig deeper into my roots. To go and find out more about who I am.
Luckily all that happened and my 50th was a complete success.
This year I turn sixty and plan to once more make the journey.
Even now I still think back to the day before I left Vancouver.
Dad was slipping fast. His mind was faltering. He knew I had opened my adoption papers, had found my birth family and was heading to Scotland to discover more. He wanted to help. He promised to pay for my flight. It’s one of the main reasons I was able to go.
Two things happened on the last day I saw him before I left. Actually three things happened.
I showed him my itinerary and the messages from some of the Third family clan in Aberdeen. I talked to him about my plans and the excitement.
As I talked about meeting these people he got teary eyed and said, “Remember you will always be my daughter. I will always be your father.” Up until that point I hadn’t realized the distraught this trip could carry for him. I told him he was my Dad and that would never change. I hope he believed me.
Then I showed him the bill for the flight and reminded him in the gentlest way of his promise to pay for it. He said of course, and went to his den. I waited. He came back and said his wife wouldn’t give him the money. He handed me his wallet and said I should take all the money inside to help pay for the trip. I opened it and found 23 cents. My heart broke.
I told him I’d already paid for the flight and he needed to keep his money to buy some coffee. Dad laughed, he loved cups of coffee. I lie very well.
As I left his home I told his wife what happened. She offered nothing.
I headed back to work and my last client before the trip. He was a kind man with a very successful business in West Vancouver. His father had recently passed. We were pretty sure our Dad’s knew each other from years ago. There was a connection.
I told him what had happened. I was relying on Dad’s help and that had now disappeared. I cried. He seemed to understand. He was a very kind man.
As we finished the session, I was packing up my gear and he disappeared into the other room. He came out and handed me a cheque for the full amount of the airfare. He said my Dad wanted me to have financial help with the trip and he was in a position to make it happen.
I cried again. He hugged me and told me to have the best birthday celebration.
I did. And I never forgot how I got there.