In my twenties I would not have failed the Balmoral test as in "The Crown". I could have walked the hills, wearing boots, and stalked the stags like the Royals. But I was not quite good enough to call an elk, which is the Montana version of a stag. When I tried, the elk ran in a panic.
We didn’t crawl after elk, but hunted on horseback along the tree line of the east slope of the Rockies. We hunted the big migratory birds on the grasslands, though not in a “shoot” the way we see in the movie. Decades earlier Bob’s parents had gone out as a social group, carrying hot drinks in thermoses. Bob and I just stole moments from work. I couldn’t do any of this now, but am glad I did it even as I question why such a thing should be done. We did eat both geese and elk. Even a swan when it was allowed to have a season.
Something similarly Brit pertains to my birth family claiming the Scots culture, attending Highland Games and pretending to dance in a kilt. My mother-in-law, Ellison Westgarth Macfie, called “Wessie”, appreciated all that even if it was not quite genuine. Her roots were in Scotland, but she was, after all, a Canadian ex-pat — in Quebec which I think she thought of as a kind of Indian reservation. Bob was arrogantly proud of it, but also hoping hard for his father’s approval, which he never quite got. His father was not Scots.
In my own family, my father’s raised-in-Scotland father was the key, but his wife’s “Finney” (Irish?) and “Swan” (Metis) background was ignored. Likewise, my mother would never admit her father was basically an Irish Kentucky hillbilly with pretensions. Her mother was a Cochran, much more prosperous. These are "white" characteristics.
In our Portland basement where my father hid his special things, he kept the chanter from a bagpipe which he never learned to play. Bob Scriver could have played it just as he played most instruments, but he preferred the cornet, an instrument for parades and jazz. We did have a bagpiper at our wedding. I don’t know who was at our divorce since I didn’t know it was happening. The community thought it was none of my business.
Oh, I can get into this series! Except Bob and I had no intention to produce an heir. Just a lot of lovely no-worries sex -- vasectomy. There was an equivalent to Mrs. Parker-Bowles named Arlene. They tell me she lives in Texas now. The other wives are all dead. But it was the death of Bob's daughter that made it necessary to take on children when we were not prepared and they were suffering.
The orchestral score for this series “The Crown” is essential as is usually true for these great sweeping epics. I once told a counselor that I felt my life needed a sound track but there were long periods when there was only static. The man just couldn’t get it. At bedtime Bob often went to the piano for the songs of his youth, which I couldn't sing.
Maybe I should have phrased my memories differently, saying that in my life I was passing through a sequence of cultures and that Browning had to combine bagpipes with pow-wow drums. It did, you know. The pipe bands came down from Canada for Indian Days and the big drum often hung in Scriver Studio because it was hocked and we hung it where everyone could see it was safe.
The next stage after Browning when my skills at breaking up dog fights and shooting gophers for the eagle to eat qualified me for the first female animal control officer in Multnomah County (Portland). I never did get into pop music. This was the only part of my life where I did a bit of drinking. Lots of dogs barking. “Oh, where oh where has my little dog gone . .”
Dog spelled backwards . . . but I didn’t do that because I’d found the Unitarians and it was a way back to the grand, the traditional, the learned. The Scottish Presbyterian Church often sympathized with the Unitarians. In those days the UUA still used the blue hymnal with Yggdrasil on the front. Four years went quickly. Many classic familiar hymns joyously sung together until the ministers met annually to sing "Rank by rank again we stand. . ."
The years in the van circuit-riding around and around Montana were mostly in a van that played its own tune. It had had an antenna attached to one side that had been removed, leaving holes that the wind played like bagpipe drones.
My next call was in Saskatoon where the congregation always began its services, signaled its limen to cross, by playing “Fanfare for the Common Man.” I hope they still do that.
Then confusion. I had gotten hard. Narcissistic or, as my family thought in more basic terms: selfish. My brothers didn’t like me. One had had a concussion. The other, hating Portland, had moved to the SW, married, and took low level jobs. We were not a family that hugged and kissed. My father had died. It was a while before my mother died. Then the older brother took over and dispersed the home. The younger one had a daughter but we didn’t know where she was. Now I do and am packing a Christmas box for her family. She found me by finding my blog.
Bob’s children died young. One of his grandchildren died. I don’t know the great-grandchildren but none have died. Bob's own death was painful, then mercifully sudden in the rough little bathroom of the Scriver Studio while waiting for a pour of bronze in his foundry. "Bronze Inside and Out" is about him.
DRK called from the rez to tell me. Bob’s funeral was in the old Browning High School gymnasium. Earl Old Person told stories about when Bob was his teacher, and they put an eagle feather in his coffin. The Catholic priest presided.
I had attended Bob’s father’s funeral in the old Masonic Hall but I don’t even know where his mother’s funeral was held. I presume in the Methodist church in Browning where I took the pulpit for a year and Bob funded one of the stained glass windows. The family never attended there. They had supported the earlier Presbyterian church that was folded into the Methodists. Everyone is buried in Cut Bank, except his fourth wife who was cremated and thrown into the sea from Vancouver, BC where she had built a house. Her name is on the headstone but the grave is empty. That about sums it up.
In terms of family I failed everyone miserably, so I have sympathy for Elizabeth II. But at least I did get “the book” written. Not just a blog, but now, through Scribr, gone feral in the world on the Internet. And Lilibet’s story is a series on television during a pandemic. Oh, fate plays tricks!