A day to remember for many reasons, the day that Baxter died for the second time. Will come back to that. Finished off last night with a mini migraine if you can get one of these. Managed to keep its level under control with far too many painkillers but the stomach held up and made it home by a slow cycle home in a cool and fresh southerly breeze. Zuzu and I were a little nervous about the evening as there were 28 and 14 booked with the knowledge of a few more about. And there were only the two of us on out front. The numbers climbed to a 70 meal shift but it went remarkably well, in fact quite a night as three couples left with hugs, handshakes and lovely complimentary words about the Inn, food and staff. There was a little practice session for the funeral as well and one of Mark’s extra 40 ouncers of vodka was gone by the end of the night. I wonder how many are left now? There are always plenty bottles of Glens out in the shed as back up.
Planned to go up the road just after twelve to see Baxter’s last trip passing the Inn as he left his home for Clachan on the back of his tractor.
This would not seem unusual for Baxter….it’s been used to take brides to weddings so why not. After a quick visit up to the Hydro to see Jamie and Dan (had time as the tractor trip was brought forward half an hour) Clachan beckoned. Full church, young and old and there were special unforgettable moments for me throughout the sad event. At one stage in the corner of the gallery were three of the latest babies with Applecross connections, all quiet but a sure sign life goes on. Two special, special moments during the “service”, Tim told of the folklore of everyone dying three times, first when life leaves the body, second when the funeral takes place and thirdly when people stop talking about and remembering who you are. Baxter is still alive if that is the case and will be for many a year. When he was saying this my Dad, Kenny, lived again in my thoughts, then Toscaig became alive with the Roddys, Mary Anne, Danny, Jessie, the Duncans and Grace Anne and many more. Applecross of old is still alive and I suspect will be here long after we are gone. Then Kirsten and Bronwyn stepped up to sing Dylan’s You’re Gonna Make me Lonesome When You’re Gone. Have not got the words to describe these two brave girls singing such poignant lyrics, in front of us, to their Grandpa. You were witnessing something both very personal and public. I have been to many funerals where if you did not know who was not being buried you would not hear a name mentioned while in church. Today Tim and the family gave us Baxter with all his imperfections to say good-bye to.
Retired to the Inn with a few Baxter type comments about the weather. Did a couple of hours covering breaks and serving a few vodkas. Love working behind the bar listening to tales of days long gone and learning about or remembering characters of old. Elaine asked me to put on a Baxter playlist and after a bit of a plutter it began…….. a very loud Wild Thing of course, nothing irreverent just paying tribute to the character that is Baxter.
I will leave you with Tara’s beautifully read tribute to her Grandpa. Read in the Inn not at Clachan and you will see why
“Our Grandpa Baxter,where do I start? A legend in its truest form, a man who stole our hearts. Famous for his many traits, namely the toddy and his tractor. We’re here today to celebrate the memorable life of Baxter. At 3 years old we’d walk in to his place, to be greeted by “Alright, s**t face?” Good old Gramps, so wise and so calm, taught us to pour our first dram. At 6 years old, our talent was founded, as he shouted through, “Now don’t fu**in’ drown it!” I’ll never forget this man at 6, Milton his temple. I’ll never forget to “Smell that and tremble”
Vodka was his go to drink, but his choice of mixer would make you blink. Some like it with orange, some like it with coke, but his “drap ae water”would give most the boak. Half and half, you mustn’t forget it, overdo it, you’d likely regret it. With a dram in the morning, he’d jump on his tractor, to noise up the tourist and give us some laughter. Married men didn’t matter a bit, he’d chat up their women, always a hit. A cheeky man, he was really a charmer and his memory will keep our hearts that wee bit warmer. So here’s to you Grandpa, I hope you’ve had a few because tonight we’re on doubles in memory of you.
Now the stories of Baxter, travelled far and travelled wide. Always so funny you’d be sore in the side. A character of refinement, comfort and grace,I wish I could say that with a straight face.However this is a man we all hold deep in our hearts, despite the insults, the man was a star. His unique character still always brought joy, and after a few voddies he would “WALK ALONE BOY”. To recall each memory where my Grandpa made me smile I’d love to go on but we’d be here a while. So I’ll share just one consistent to me and to Baxter where he drove me around in his tractor. I remember the looks and laughs from the formal and all I could think was” Isn’t this normal?” So I’ll end my verse with a smile alas and I ask that, to Baxter, you will now raise your glass.”