Scotland dad was a treasure of life

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

By Steve Stricker

Since medieval Europe, March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph was celebrated to honor fathers, while Mothering Day honored mothers.

From the early 1900’s attempts were made to make a permanent North America Father’s Day holiday but it took Congress in 1956 to recognize this day, another decade for President Lyndon Johnson to proclaim the third Sunday in June to be a national holiday, and for President Nixon to make it permanent in 1972.

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My dad died when we were both way too young, really didn’t know him, and hero mom, Gert became both mom and dad. Ironically, the man who would have become my Scottish dad touched me deeply in a short period of time.

Although I had known my fiancée for years, by the time we began dating she had solidified plans to move home to Scotland but stayed
because of me…which did not particularly endear me with her father, Alistair, a retired Geology professor from The University of Glasgow,
who eagerly anticipated her move home. So, on our first visit to Scotland in September 2009, he seemed to enjoy poking jabs at me, and
perhaps somewhat disrespectfully but in fun – I jabbed back.

Driving and shifting on the “wrong” side was a bit tricky, but I was very comfortable with it and Alistair gave me additional suggestions and encouragement as we undertook my first lengthy drive to historic St. Andrews, the Old Course and University, what an awesome drive and experience.

In May 2010, we returned for a visit of several weeks that extended into a month because of the Iceland volcanic ash cloud that began in
April 2010, continued into May, disrupting air travel across western and northern Europe causing 20 countries to close their airspace to
commercial and jet traffic…we didn’t mind because our vacation was extended, hotel in Edinburgh paid for by the airlines, but we chose to stay with her parents.

On this trip, I drove her, dad and mum, from Scotland to southern England on the A-1 to visit her older brother and family. After a swell
four-hour drive, we stopped in York for the night, toured York Minister Cathedral, and later she and I toured York’s quaint pubs.

Four more driving hours the next day, arrived in Northamptonshire an hour north of London. Scotland and England are beautiful!

From my first breath of that fragrant “heavy” Scottish air, absorbed the differentness of the ancient terrain and architecture, listened to that lovely Scottish brogue, felt as if my soul had always been there.

Being my birthday (10th), her brother’s family surprisingly had a cake (my first in many years) and champagne waiting for me – wow!

The following day, we took a train to London where her brother worked, navigated us through the “Tube” maze of underground connections, and toured London on two tour buses and a fairy on the Thames – I’ve been over and under the Tower of London Bridge, amazing!

A few days later we returned to Scotland on the M-6 up the west coast of England along the Irish Sea and stopped for the night in the Lake District where my fiancée and I spent the day at beautiful Windermere.

Arriving back in Scotland, I received praise for my driving, but Alistair had another trial for me. Knowing I loved Land Rovers, he took me a for a wee challenging drive over their Ochil Hills (Himalaya’s) via a twisting, steep, one-lane “path,” dodging sheep, to a classic old Landy’s restoration shop near the famous Gleneagles Golf Club. Once there (sweating bullets), family applauded (that I didn’t kill them) and Alistair said, “Well done, Laddy! There are very few people I would consent to drive me over those hills on that road.” Whew.

Alistair sadly died in October of 2012, and although the engagement didn’t work out, I will always have a dad and family in Scotland. Miss you “dad,” love and thank you.

Steve is an Oxford resident, worked on the Ole Miss Campus, and received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (Counseling) from The
University of Mississippi.