I have just had a lovely day with my Grandkids, my stepdaughter and Dave it was a day I will never forget. They all made me so happy and showed me so much love, laughter and kindness. Its even more important these days. We had a great lunch for Father’s Day and so many laughs. I am so lucky to have them all in my life. I wrote this piece a few years ago and memories came flooding back of how incredible parents they were. My Dad was a Church of Scotland Minister and I was a wild child. Not uncommon for a ministers son.
My Dad was a minister in Ayr he was a “Fire and Brimstone minister” a tee – totaller. We had a great childhood though little money but my Dad loved sport, football and the mountains. He was a dedicated Church Of Scotland Minister unlike many Ministers of today he was always out visiting his people and my Mum brought us up all five kids. Dad had a huge faith gave a tenth of his salary to the Church Ministers were poorly paid in these days and Mum was always worried about money and being in a tied house.
I was a bit of a wild child as the Ministers son maybe it was because you got some grief which was usual for a son of the Manse! I was always playing up and getting into many scrapes. Dad was very strict and I needed it but looking back he gave me a great life. The rest of the family were well – behaved and as the youngest of the family with three sisters and one brother I was spoiled by them all and often in trouble.
Dad and Mum gave me a love of the mountains and sport and we used to go to all of the Ayr United games home and away. Dad always wore his dog collar and this often got us into the games for free. I would vanish among the crowd and Dad and Mum would be in the stand. (Mum was always worried I would get arrested) He had a booming voice which I have and it like me could be heard all around the ground and was a bit of a local character.
The Church was his life and he worked so hard we hardly saw him. He was an old-fashioned minister who visited his people and was a true hard worker and was always there when his congregation needed him. He was a very talented runner and won the Arthur’s Seat Race and several occasions a fit man playing tennis right into his later life. His best friend at University died as an alcoholic that put him against alcohol all his life.
It was in the Mountains he spent his early days in the 1930’s at Loch Eil in the West Coast as a student Minister visiting the far-flung parishes in Glendessary and about, small Churches with great people. He was looked after by the Head Keeper Cameron Of Loch Eil who carried all the heavy sacrament communion bits and pieces of gear for my Dad minister to some far-flung parishes. They would do a few Munro s after the services, he loved these days. He never forgot and always remembered Cameron and his care and loved the mountains and we had some great days out. It was in the hills that I really started to get to know my Dad and when I joined the RAF and joined the RAF Mountain Rescue he was happy.
We managed a few great days in our amazing Galloway Hills, The Merrick, Corserine and Back Hill of the Bush and of course Arran were spent so many holidays. We had so many great days on the Ridge, Goatfell, A’Chir and the other great peaks. We all went as a family and had such holidays, huge days 12 hours at times and fish and chips on the way home. These are days I will never forget. The family holidays swapping manses in the Highlands were great fun and more big days on the mountains. He would tell me tales of the hills, the murder on Goatfell in Arran and of the plane crashes in Arran and Galloway. We met Hamish MacInnes in Glencoe when we were climbing Bidean Nam Bian and got lost. Hamish was up and heard us and took us of the hill and gave us a tea in his wee house. When I told him years later I was that wee boy he remembered it all and that Dad corresponded with him and always prayed for him on his expeditions. Hamish told me many prayed for him that was one way he lived to 90.
He never wore any kit a jumper as his spare kit and old pair of shoes and trousers, he wore the dog collar at times to get us up Estate tracks.It worked as he was always allowed to park and we often got tea and scones after a day out. I had a plan to go round the big Hotels in the Highlands, with him the Clachaig in Glencoe, Kintail Lodge and Skye and do the big hills in comfort. Sadly it was not to be as my Mum died suddenly of leukaemia and Dad took it very hard. He was never the same and he collapsed in the pulpit during Easter week Services and never really recovered he was in hospital till he died. He was all there mentally but the stroke never allowed him to get out of hospital, it was a sad time for all. The last time I saw him I took my dog that he loved into the hospital he said he wanted to see Teallach and I was to get out on the hills and enjoy life. I wanted to say so much to him that day as here he was that strong man dying. I have mentioned before it took me years to grieve for both Mum and Dad. I was hardened to death with my work in Mountain Rescue only saw them once a year as I was always chasing my selfish dreams. We spoke often on the phone and if we were on a big call out he would pray for us in church we had a good back up! You are who you are and family makes you who you are, I was very lucky to have had such a Dad and Mum, special people who you have no clue at the time what you owe them.
In the end Money means little, love and care is far more precious, I was a wild teenager and yet they still loved me and did their best, I will never forget that. He gave me a strength that got me out of some situations like when I collapsed in a lay by in the annual Carrick Hill race 13 miles and over these wee hills. I was very young Mum and Dad were supporting, Mum wanted to put me in the car as I was exhausted. Dad gave me some strong words I got up and completed the race which we won. These words were always with me on my many adventures when running on empty on the mountains. On father’s day and every day give Mum and Dad your love and tell them how much you care for them.
Hopefully I have some of my Dad’s qualities that have stood me in good stead and I will never forget these early adventures in my life.