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Life as a Scot in California

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Posted by berkeleyscot on March 9, 2008

Mam kept a wee diary, in which she recorded a few sentences about what she had done that day.

I saw her writing, every evening, but I never looked at the diary, although she never hid it.

The ‘Collins’ diaries were still there, when I went to Buckie to prepare the house for sale, in 2002. I was tempted to bring them back with me, but in the end, chose to take only one. It’s the diary she wrote in 1965. I was 15 in 1965.

I was miserable in 1965 and I wanted to see myself from her point of view. But I couldn’t bear to read it, when I brought it home to California, and it’s only, in March, 2008, that I’ve looked at it.

So far, from her brief entries, I’ve confirmed what I already suspected about her life. She was as unhappy as I was. She’d lived the whole of her married life in the same house as her mother-in-law.

In the diary, she referred to her mother-in-law as ‘Ma C.’ Mam was always gentle, polite and her describing her mother-in-law as ‘Ma C.’ tells everything about how she felt about her.

Mam was often ill and spent many days in bed that year. She had severe migraine headaches and bilious attacks, which I am sure were stress-induced.

I read only the entry for the corresponding current date and from the beginning of March, she had spent most days in bed.

Even so, she made breakfast for her parents-in-law and lunch for me when I had a break at school. Dad was at sea during the week and oblivious to all this. He did not ever understand the urgency to get his wife a home and kitchen of her own.

I did understand, but I was 15. What could I have done?


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