Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Saying Goodbye...

My trip to Scotland was about uniting with family that I had never met before, finding lost family members of the past and putting them to rest in my own mind; and it was also about finding the courage within myself to push my personal boundaries in order to grow. But the tragic story of Peter Campbell, which I referenced in the beginning of my blog, was what ignited the spark within me to go on my own search to find him.

As I started asking around Inverness to find the prison that Peter passed away in, I discovered that it was still a working prison. I went to the tourist office and told them that Peter had died in that prison as a conscientious objector, and the ladies at the office became interested in the story. So, they called the prison, and the prison called the governor, and the governor sanctioned a visit. So, the very last day of my trip, on my birthday, I was able to go take a private tour of HM Prison Inverness. The prison itself was built in 1902, and Peter passed away there on April 8, 1919 of pneumonia. Seeing the final place in which he was imprisoned, and the place that he died, was very difficult, but it gave me some closure as well. There are currently plans for a new prison to be built, and for this one to be knocked down, so I really was given a true gift to be able to walk where Peter had walked. I said my final goodbyes to Peter as I dropped petals into the River Ness and thanked him for his beliefs, his bravery and his commitment to peace.

The Inverness tourist office also checked with Highland Council about Peters death, and they were able to verify that Peter was not buried in Inverness. The story, passed down through the family, was that his brothers took him home to their village of Glendale where he was buried in a grave that is still to be given a headstone. If there is ever a day when that changes, and we have the chance to give him a final memorial, I will go back to Scotland if at all possible.

I want to thank those that did genealogical research and had 'found Peter' for me the day after I booked my trip to Scotland. With all of the new information I received, I was able to connect with what Peter left behind in a new and more complete manner. And for that, I will be forever indebted.

I am a changed woman, and I feel like a more complete individual now that I have reconnected with my past and set my future into a positive motion for a free and happy life...even if it is just me, myself and I. I am the one that I can depend on to make my own dreams come true. I will always treasure the memories I have of Scotland and of the people I met there and will keep them in my heart forever.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I was quite anxious about the next part of my journey as I had to drive all the way to the northernmost tip of Scotland to reach a ferry that would take me, and my rental car, to the Orkney Islands. I was told just to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald Island, but of course, I still managed to get myself lost! I did however, see some of the most beautiful Scottish countryside, and I would highly recommend traveling it for that alone. On my ferry ride over, I thought about my Grandpa Campbell who was one of the crew members aboard Jacques Cousteau's gray whale expedition. I've never seen a whale in the wild, and my grandpa was such a power house on Earth, I was sure he'd send me one, but we will get back to that later.

The reason that I wanted to see Orkney is that it is rich in archaeological ruins which predate the Pyramids of Giza. The first place I decided to visit was the Tomb of the Eagles. In 1957, a farmer happened upon this tomb on his land and immediately tried to get someone out to take a look at it. Eighteen years later, no one had come, so he decided to let archaeology students unearth these sacred remains. One of the remains unearthed was a lady they called 'granny' as she was about my age, which was elderly in the Neolithic times. We were able to see her skull and a place in her mouth where she had an abscess that may have been the cause of her death. She was a very short lady of 4'10" and her skull was incredibly tiny. In the Neolithic room, we were able to hold some of the items these people of the past would have used as tools, their pottery and their incredible jewelry. The pottery appears to have been purposely shattered and burned and the tomb sealed up. The reason for the tombs name is that each person was buried along with a certain number of eagle talons and even some with eagles. One man was buried with two eagles and 14 talons. White Tailed Eagles are not easy to come by, leading to speculation that these inventive people may have domesticated them. When Frieda, who was my guide, took me into the Mesolithic Room to show me the tools that people had been using 9,000 years ago, I must admit that I started crying. I was just so beyond excited to be experiencing these relics for myself. To get to the tomb, you walk along the cliffs by the sea, shimmy in on a wheeled wooden board and pull yourself in by a rope all by yourself. It was a very spiritual experience for me to be inside the final resting place of these people. I will never forget this moment in all of my years to come.

The next item I wanted to see was the Ring of Brognar. This stone circle is right along the water and predates Stonehenge. It happened to be Beltane when I arrived, and I did try to hold the stones and wish blessings upon my friends and family as well as the rest of the Earth. I know that someone built these stones for a purpose, and I was trying to soak up any positive energy that I could from them.

On my way to the stones, I saw the little Italian Temple that had been built by Italian prisoners on Orkney during WWII. They felt that they needed a place to worship, and they created this absolutely charming, yet ornate little temple.

The place that I really wanted to see the most was a place called Skara Brae. This is a Neolithic Village that was lived in for around 600 years. This village had compost areas, separate water cisterns and an antiquated plumbing system. The homes had stone beds and dressers, and it really just showed the ingenious ways of these people. It was the last place along the route, so when I showed up, imagine my shock to discover that they were just closing up. I begged the woman to please let me just run out and see it, that I had come all the way from America, and my eyes started to well up with tears. It was all genuine, for I would've been heartbroken not to have seen it. In the end, she gave in, and I got in free of charge and received my very own private tour!

On my way back to my campground (Yes, the girl who since the time I was five was afraid to get her fingernails dirty, or walk on uneven ground, camped!) I had heard that the St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall had a ceramic red poppy display temporarily constructed against the building. When my Grandpa Czech passed away, we saw two rainbows in the sky at his funeral, and we all knew it was him reuniting with my Grandmother. Well, picking out Poppies with my Grandpa was one of my favorite memories of him. On my way to see the display, a beautiful rainbow appeared, and I knew it was him. Even though I am here in Scotland to get in touch with my Dad's side of the family, I knew it was him telling me he was with me. I cried all the way to the Poppy display, as I felt so happy to have him along. The red poppies at the cathedral were so beautiful, and I told the ladies there how it was all connecting to the Wizard of Oz, and they asked me if I was from Kansas City. They told me to click my heels three times and say, "There's no place like home." If I didn't have photographic evidence of these miracles, I almost wouldn't believe them myself. To me, it's a sign that I'm in the right place at the right time.

I’d now like to return to the mention of asking my Grandpa Campbell to send me a whale. I never did get to set my eyes on a whale in Scotland. Today, I was feeling a bit sad that my trip is coming to an end, and feeling quite exhausted, so I decided to take a nap before going out into Inverness. I had the most vivid dream of my life. I was standing in a cove here in Scotland, and the biggest Orca I had ever seen came swimming up. I was so excited, I ran to get a closer look and snap some pictures. Suddenly, he started leaping out of the water and the sky was filled with a spectacular firework display. The only strange part is that Chewbacca was there with me in the dream (I'm not quite sure what that was about), but needless to say, I woke up and I knew that my Grandpa Campbell sent me that dream before leaving my beloved Scotland. I always knew that he was so strong and brave that he could do anything, and he reached me from wherever he is, and I just feel it. And now I know, wishes can come true if you truly just believe. I know that I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have if I did not have all of my relatives somewhere over the rainbow, looking out for me. Also, I have survived upon the support and well wishes of all of my friends and family here in this world. My troubles have melted away like lemon drops, and I have had the most spiritual experience of my life.

There's No Place Like Home...