Nana would have been slightly younger than me when she boarded the ship that took her away from everything that she had ever known and plunged her into the unknown. She was leaving Scotland, and all of her family to come to Canada. As she stood on the deck of that ship holding my mothers little hand in hers the piper played his melancholy tune while she drifted away from her life. She left her homeland never knowing if she would ever see it again, never knowing if she would ever see her mother and father, sisters and brothers ever again. I cannot imagine having that kind of courage.
When Nana boarded that ship, she boarded with four children, all by herself. My Papa had gone to Canada with my Aunt Jean their oldest before the rest of the family. He wanted to have a job and a place to live set up for his arriving family. I truly cannot imagine the strength she had. I'd like to think that she gave a little of her strength to me. This was not a trip that lasted just a few days. This trip was across the ocean on an ocean-liner. She had four children, no other adult to help her, and I can only imagine the fear and trepidation that she felt. I could cry if I think about it too much. They left Scotland to find a better life for their family of 5. They had hope. They had never seen Canada, it was the great unknown, what strength.
Eventually my Aunt Mary and Uncle Willy (Nana's younger sister) and their children also immigrated to Canada. Now Nana had a little bit of home. She would write letters to her parents, and her siblings. Sometimes Aunts would come to Canada for a visit. It was always so exciting. My Aunt Ella came for a visit when I was tiny, but I still remember her. I remember holding her hand and going for walks. A few times Aunt Mary's twin sister Aunt Margaret would come for a visit. I loved my Aunt Margaret. She would tell me that I looked just like a young Liz Taylor. She would also bring us treats from Scotland. Scotland became this faraway place that I so desperately wanted to see.
My Nana passed away just two months after I was married. I still miss her. Aunt Mary passed away a few years ago. That was the end of my Scottish connection. I still had visiting Scotland on my bucket list, but now there was really no family there anymore, or so I thought.
Facebook has built a rebirth of my Scottish connection. It was because of Facebook that I have begun to get to know my cousins who live in Scotland. I see pictures of their families. I get updates about what they are doing. They write little messages to me, and I to them. I feel a great debt of gratitude to Facebook for this.
Over time I have corresponded regularly with my cousin Elaine. She has four little boys very close in age to my four. She has a set of now 10 year old twins (mine will be 10 in July). It has been a real pleasure to get to know her, and her sisters. My kids like to wander over while I am looking at her pictures and see their far away cousins. It was this that gave me an idea. What if we sent them over a "Canadian" package, and they sent us a "Scottish" package? I suggested my idea to Elaine, and she was really excited.
This little project really made me think what is Canadian? What objects could I put together that really said "Canada"? It really got me thinking about my country, something that I do not normally do. I could send the stereotypical maple syrup, but is that really Canadian? I had wanted to send them mini-hockey sticks, but of course there were none to be found (wanna make a bet that this week when I go to the store the walls will be lined with them). In the end I sent off a package (I'm not saying what I put in it, because Elaine hasn't received it yet, and I don't want to give it away). I'm not sure how "Canadian" it is, but I gave it a shot.