What are the three most memorable moments — good or bad, happy or sad — in your life? Go!
The birth of my first child, a daughter in 1978 was a milestone. I’d had two miscarriages before having her, and wouldn’t even buy baby stuff until my large office had a massive baby shower for me when I was about 8 1/2 months pregnant. Then I felt it was real, and everything would be okay. We were thrilled when the doctor displayed a beautiful 6 lb. baby girl with red hair! That she got from her Irish grandmother, but unlike her, she got my brown eyes, and a heartier complexion.
The next event would be the birth of my third child, unexpectedly a boy. I had suspected a male, because of the stronger movements of this baby, but in those days, finding out the sex of a child was more complex. He was an adorable little bundle with blonde hair and blue eyes, presented to us with a little blue cap on his head.
This in no way means that the births of my other two daughters were any less wondrous or memorable, but these two were special each for its own reason.
The night before my father died, I heard him up late and got up to see what he was doing. We chatted briefly and then he gave me a hug that I felt through and through, and in some strange way, I knew it was a good-bye hug. He committed suicide the next day, after a long struggle with bipolar disorder, when effective treatment was still being tested. When the police came to the door that August day, I knew what they were going to say, but it was worse than I had thought. Life was surreal for about a year, and then healing began to take place. The saddest thing is that I have memories of my father who died when I was 14, but my sister, who is 6-1/2 years younger than I, really doesn’t remember him at all. I’m sorry about that. I can’t say I knew him well, but what I knew I liked, and am able to remember him as a good man, as opposed to the troubled, erratic person he was the few years before his death.
Vividly I remember the day I arrived in St. Andrews, Scotland, to begin my junior year abroad. The contrast between the town and university and what I had ever experienced before couldn’t have been greater. This place had been founded before the first English landed at Jamestown! The university had been founded between 1411-1413, and some parts of the town are equally old, though the once biggest
cathedral in Scotland was now in ruins, and had been for four and a half centuries. Similarly the castle, once home to the Bishop, has also been partially destroyed at about the same time. Both still stand anchoring the town in its glorious past followed by a couple of centuries of ignominy, and then a rebirth in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In the middle ages, as many as 1000 ships would some to the Harbor for the major trading fairs filling the town with buyers and sellers. Today the pier is a spot where students stroll on Sundays after attending a service at the University Chapel, before returning to their residences for lunch.
I went first to my residence, Hamilton Hall, which faces the West Sands beach front on one side, and the ancient Old Course on the other. It had once been the Grand Hotel. Now stripped of its former glory, it was still a great place to live. I settled in well and quickly, adjusting to the new style of teaching and the differences in daily life. I loved it so much I stayed for two more years, finishing my degree there. I always call it the “home of my heart”. We revisit it frequently which is a shared joy with my husband, who also attended university there.
(Hamilton Hall was sold in about 2008 to a private developer, then another, and now years later has been transformed into “condominium residences” in the upper brackets. I will never again see the room in which I lived my second year, under the imposing corner turret.)
Life is unpredictable, but sometimes the surprises are better than what you had planned or imagined!