It has been a sad two weeks for Applecross. Tomorrow I am going through to Inverness to say goodbye to Carol, my neighbour. She passed away last week far too young and it is hard to believe that a couple of years ago I was trying and mostly failing to get her dinky little net shots back on our monday and thursday badminton evenings. She was always so uncritical of everyone, something many of us could aspire to. Judith’s mum Vera has headed off to Inverness for an assessment to see how her dementia can be further treated and realistically is going to have professional care. Her assessors so far have been amazed how her family have coped as much as they have up till now. Vera has always been a character and often would come into the bar and give you a big hug and you did feel that she meant it. My own mum has been in care for almost 10 years now also suffering from dementia. It comes as quite a shock when your Mum asks you if you have a family. Over time you process and get used to this and eventually she does not know you. In a way you already have said good-bye although she is still alive and relatively healthy. Growing up in Kyle you remember the relatives nursed in their last days by my mum and you feel the guilt that you don’t do it for her. The only consolation is that she is in a brilliant place and so well looked after by amazing people. I always think of the story of some one I knew from Kyle who went to visit his mother in law and when asked what day it was replied “Any day you want it to be.” Humour can sometimes get you through the c**p. Over the past two weeks there has been a search and rescue operation looking for a young lad who had grown up in Applecross. He was last seen on the Bealach despite extensive searches carried out by local volunteers and RAF Mountain Rescue. Listening to the people closely connected there does appear to be little hope. Because it is a close-knit place most people know every one. In fact I am of an age where I can name just about every house owner and dweller in Applecross. It is not being nosy but just the way it is. So for such a small place there has been a lot to contend with over the last couple of weeks.
A good shift at the Inn can be an antidote to a sad time. Life will always go on and there was a good crowd in again tonight, all enjoying superb food and towards the end there was Finbar regaling several tables with his stories of his cheese mining exploits and trying to persuade people of his relationship to Alan Shearer. His attempts to get dance partners on to the bar floor failed but did not stop him trying. The 60th birthday party went very well despite some of the party starting the celebration at 9am.Speaking to Ishbel from Lochcarron and discovered that her family were the owners of the Crowlin Islands and that was where my family landed leaving Harris in the 1890s. Had a bit of a banter that as I was doing service tonight we were still in the same position as over a hundred years ago. The Macleods still in the service of the Macleans. So it has been a series of different kinds of goodbyes.
The weather has broken this weekend but before it did I looked across the bay to Camusteel and like many other scenes here there is a timeless feel to the place that is far bigger than any of us. There is probably 10,000 years of history in the picture but we can only see the last hundred or so. It is times like these when you realise the importance of oral history. This strong tradition on the west coast is slowly dying but is the best way to keep alive the memories of those that have gone before us.