Part 1: Chapter 1
Sitting up in bed, I looked at the man who lay beside me. He had brought me here and I could never have done it without him. I reached over and ran my fingers down his chest. He opened his eyes and smiled up at me taking hold of my hand and pulling me towards him. He rolled over until I was beneath his muscular body; he kissed me and we made love with the moonlight streaming through the balcony doors and the sound of the waves hitting the shore. After our lovemaking, I watched him as he rose and stood at the balcony. I followed him and stood against the balcony door and we looked out over the River Clyde together.
He took my breath away just with the sound of his voice, just as he had done when we first met in Sydney. Turning towards him, I looked into his eyes and I saw all the love that I needed, he understood how I felt, he knew my strengths and weaknesses. We had gone through such a lot together since our first meeting. My mind wandered back to our first touch, our first kiss: I had changed a lot since those days back on the family farm. It still amazes me how fate itself can change your life so completely.
Being the eldest girl in the family when my Mother passed away I was expected to run the family home just as my she had done but my heart and mind were never agreeing on this subject as I felt my life was meant to be spent somewhere else other than on the family farm. My mother had told me stories of her homeland and I longed to reach into her world back there and enjoy some of the things that she so often mentioned. By the time my eighteenth birthday arrived, I had decided to leave the safety of my family and friends and take my chances in what my mother used to call the ‘big beautiful city’.
My Father and my siblings were not very keen on me leaving but I felt that this little black duck had places to go and things to see and my mind was made up to do just that. I left Timmsvale and promised that I would write every single week and come home every chance I got. The bus picked me up, I watched as my family, and the farm life that I was so used to disappear in a cloud of dust. I was about to start my new life and make my mark in this wide wonderful world.
Being a country girl at heart: A trip to the big Apple (Sydney) was such a daunting experience and it took me a few months to settle in. I had worked in a few places since arriving in Sydney and I could not find satisfaction in any of them. My latest job was PA to the Managing Director of a University. One of my daily routines was to distribute the timetable for the lecturers at the University. I met a person who was a part time lecturer and we frequently met for lunch whenever he was at the University. This friendship blossomed and I respected him immensely. After a courtship of about six months, we found that we had very strong feelings for each other and he asked me to marry him. His name was Duncan McIntyre. We were married, and I thought that would be the end of my life as a single person and that I would now raise a family of my own and become a boring homemaker. I had known that this would eventually happen but I still had the feeling that I had not done everything that I wanted to do in my life.
Duncan and I decided to go to Scotland for our honeymoon as both our parents came from there and they always talked about ‘Bonnie Scotland’. It was in a town called Dunoon in the County of Argyll that I met a group of people who would change the direction of my life from where it was now heading.
Some people whom we met in Dunoon were friends of my parents. They were all extremely generous people wanting us to stay with them while we were there. Duncan and I stayed a few days with a woman called Alexis who was an old friend of my Mothers. She was small in stature but on occasions reminded me of my Mother, which I thought was rather strange. My mother had never talked much of her family in Scotland and I presumed that her family may have passed away, this would explain her not every discussing them with us. Alexis told me of times when she and my mother put on their family tartan and their pumps and they would dance their heart out at the Highland Gathering. I remembered the times that my Mother had shown me how to do the Highland fling, after grabbing a couple of sticks from the garden she would attempt to teach me how to do the sword dance and I would end up on the floor while attempting to copy her steps. When I think of it, she probably had the same thoughts that I myself had back on the Farm in NSW, but she was quite happy to keep house for my Dad and the rest of us.
My mother had lived in Dunoon Castle. A huge wall surrounded the Castle grounds when my mother was living there. I heard of extremely happy times that my mother spent here and I wondered why she had left such a mystical and wonderful place as Scotland to come out to Australia.
Duncan and I were having a wonderful time in Scotland when he was asked to go on a grouse hunting expedition into the Highlands with some of the other men from the Town. He accepted of course and was well on his way by around 5.00am the next day.
I spent this time with my mother’s friends learning different traditional things that they do daily, which was all very exciting to me. By around six o’clock that night we were all starting to get a little worried about the men. All the women sat around the fire talking and doing anything to keep their minds off the late hour.
At around seven o’clock that evening, a few of the men arrived with the news that there had been an accident. All the women held hands and asked who was injured. The two men looked over in my direction and told me that they were sorry but it was Duncan and a couple of the other chaps, but Duncan had not survived. I cannot remember much about my reaction but when I woke up, I was in Alexis’s bedroom lying on her bed. Several other women and some of the men were still in the house; I could hear voices in the background arguing. I could hear two male voices quite plainly. These two men were discussing whether Duncan was dead, had someone made sure of this.
After numerous, hot cups of tea to calm me down I made Alexis tell me about the accident. Some of the men were flushing the grouse from the Heather. Since these birds do not fly for a long distance, the men who were waiting had to shoot as soon as the birds rose into the air. Some of the men had turned too sharply and accidentally hit three of their companions. One of those men was Duncan; he had been hit directly in the side of the neck. By the time they got him to the hospital, he was unconscious. The doctors could do nothing for him. I was shocked to say the least and could not think straight about what I was going to do next.
After a couple of days I thought it would be best if I went back to Australia to be with my family and break the news to Duncan’s family in person. I organized Duncan’s body to be flown back to Australia. I had telephoned Duncan’s parents and asked them to meet me at the airport. This was going to be a difficult time for both his parents and myself.
Duncan’s Mother was devastated. Her son was only 23 when he died. It was hard to believe that Duncan and I had just started out as a married couple less than a month ago and now it was over. I tried to put my life back together again and wondered what the future held for me now.