Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It occurred to me that some people in internet-land might be wondering why the woman with the vaguely Swedish-sounding name is interested in Scotland. (Epperson isn't Swedish. I say it's English; others say French. Don't ask, it causes arguments between me and my mother). Anyway, my interest in Scotland stems from the man pictured above William Kier Hood, my grandfather.
He came to America with his family when he was nine years old and died a few weeks before my eighth birthday. His Scottish heritage was very important to him and he expressed this through playing the bagpipes, belonging to Scottish societies and attending Tartan Balls and Highland Games. In fact, most of his family members did and this was the environment in which my mother grew up. (My poor grandmother, whose parents were from Scandinavia got sucked into all the tartan to-doings as well). Some of our participation in these events survived my grandfather for several years.
I can't say that I miss my grandfather because I hardly knew him, but I miss that I didn't get to know him. I felt very protective of him after his death because everyone was saying mean things about him. At least that is how I perceived it at age seven. The adult me knows it was grieving friends and family members expressing regrets about the things my grandfather did or did not do.
About two years into my PhD research I realized that my interest in Scotland was rooted in the fact that it allowed me to be close to a grandfather I barely knew. For me researching emigrant Scots, attending Scottish Games, listening to Andy Stewart, and eating Edinburgh Rock, shortbread and mince is not about reconecting with some long-lost Scottish past I have learned about through geneaology. It is about remaining connected to my childhood and keeping the memory of my grandfather alive.