The Swing of the Kilt
A Mother's Memory
It promises to be a beautiful sunny day as I look out the window. Not a cloud in the steel-blue sky of early morning. It’s a good time just to observe the stillness and peace of the dawn. A new day filled with promises and full of hope.
“Mum. Mum, I need help,” Sandy shouts, panic in his voice. His voice brings me out of my reverie. The peace shattered.
I find my son in a state of disarray. How he managed to put his kilt on looking lopsided, I don’t know.
“Come on, let’s get you sorted,” I said. I was trying hard not to laugh, to see the comedy of the situation. But it was a serious affair for my fourteen-year-old. So after much tweaking of hemlines and tightening buckles, I took a step back to see what our twenty minutes of work had achieved.
He looked so smart. My chest swelled to accommodate my heart. I thought it might burst, a mother looking at how mature, all-grown-up he was in his uniform. Tears flooded my eyes, and the picture of perfection became blurry.
But I had no time for sentiment, no I must make sure everything is correct, as I dash away the salty water. It was, after all, his first solo competition. I checked the heather pinned to his Glengarry hat and buttonhole. The flashes in his socks had to be just so. Socks turned down equally and last, his Gillie brogues; four turns on the laces, the line straight and centred, then wrapped around the top of the ankle three times, tie-off must be neat and centred.
“Stop!” I cry, “Something’s missing.” I get up from where I am kneeling on the carpet. “What is it?” I mutter to myself. I know there’s something missing, but what?
“It’s all here, mum,” Sandy says, playing with the Skien dhu, twirling it in his hands.
“Damn it, Sandy. Give it here. That’s what’s missing.” I said. I think I am more uptight than he is as I voiced my annoyance.
I shove the Skien dhu down his sock. Positioning correctly. Just so.
“Right, outside, so I can take a couple of pictures. When’s the bus due?”
“Fifteen minutes. Mum, I need to run through my piece on the chanter before I go. Oh, and I need to check the reeds for the pipes. Pipe Major said he’d kill any of us that didn’t have the right reeds. Mum, give us a hand, please?”
Between us, we pulled apart the pipes, checking. Everything’s good. “Come on, I want that picture.” So, we clattered down the stairs, leaving the disaster that was his bedroom behind us. I’ll deal with that later.
Outside, last-minute checks. Buttons and buckles shining, no smudges. Whew. Pictures taken, packed lunch retrieved from the fridge, bottles of Irn Bru stuffed in the bag beside the lunch box. A couple of Kitkats, a banana and a packet of cheese and onion crisps tossed in completed the day’s provisions.
A quick run-through of his piece of music. Sounded great to me, but I’m no expert and he throws the chanter in with the pipes.
“Gotta go, mum.”
“I know, son,” I said. A lump is forming in my throat and water flooded back into my eyes. Stretching up on tiptoes to give him a quick kiss on the cheek. How tall he is now. Tears threaten to cascade down my face as Sandy picks up his case and bag and, turning, walks down the path to the gate. I watch him go. A proud mother watching as out in the street he stops and puts his Glengarry on at a jaunty angle and swings his backpack over his shoulders. Half turning, Sandy gives me a wave as I stand on the doorstep. I wave back. My emotions are all mixed up. I am proud of his achievements and also forlorn. My wee boy is all grown up now, no longer my baby. Only in my heart will he remain that.
“Cheeky git,” I mutter, watching him set the Glengarry and walk along the street whistling a tune, his back straight, but with that cheeky swagger as it sets the kilt a-swaying. I’m mesmerised by its rhythmic swing. It seems to be almost in time with the tune. Maybe it is, then again, maybe it’s my imagination.
My heart is bursting with pride as I watch him jauntily march down the street, his kilt swinging side to side. What a sight. It makes me think of my grandmother watching grandad marching down a different street many years ago, in his uniform. Only he wasn’t playing in a band. He was going to join his regiment in the Maryhill Barracks before being shipped to Egypt and to war. I can only imagine how she felt, not knowing if he would ever return home. Walking up the street, his kilt swinging.
Back ramrod straight. Glengarry set just so, his kilt swinging. Jauntily, proudly defying any to cross him. You can almost hear them shouting, “I’m here and I’m proud to be a Scot.”
Thank you for reading this true story.
About the author
Building a Diversified Portfolio in writing. Aspiring writer and my hope is to share my latest serialised books in either fantasy or science fiction genres. love writing fantasy as it lets your imagination take over.