Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Roots



In 2014, I will be returning to Paris for 5 weeks but I will also be travelling to the Shetland Islands to visit my mother's relatives. When she was a child, my mum was encouraged to write letters to grandparents and cousins in Shetland. Although my grandfather left the islands to go to sea, he sent money and food vouchers to his Shetland family.

My mother and father were able to visit Shetland more than once and hosted her cousins and their children when they visited Canada. In 1987, I was fortunate to spend a couple of days in Lerwick, the main city of Shetland and to travel to the island of Whalsay where my grandfather was born. His sisters were still living at the time and I even visited the home of one of his boyhood friends.

As years have passed and my mother's cousins are getting older, I am drawn to visit the islands once more. Maman has decided not to visit despite my encouragement and that of her cousins. I still hope that she will change her mind.

Accommodation is scarce and expensive in Lerwick due to the presence of North Sea oil projects but my hospitable kin have decreed that "ye will nae stay in other folks' homes." Perhaps I will need to borrow Mum's Shetland dictionary as the Shetlanders have their own dialect.

I am a woman of the story (any story especially history) so I feel keenly the ties to my family who sailed the seas, some returning home, others settling on the west coast of Canada or in New Zealand. Before I return my mum's book A Kist of Emigrants, I will be rereading to prepare for the hamefarin.





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