Remember the last time you were sitting at a bar in the States and before you had finished your first drink one of the patrons came up to you, introduced himself, bought you and your wife a round, and then hauled the two of you over to a table full of his friends and family, making you the honored guests of the evening?… Yeah, me neither.
Of course, this is Scotland and not the States. Meet Garry Clifford, his oldest son, Sean, and their good friend John Curran. That is precisely what the three of them did. In less than 10 minutes they had Christine and me at their table and we became family. Garry’s wife Kathleen, Sean’s wife Julie, and John’s wife Carol were every bit as warm and friendly. We didn’t have the chance to buy our own drinks, let alone a round the rest of the night.
Garry and Kathleen have been in love with each other since they were 13. They have been blessed with 29 years of marriage, 5 sons, and a 2 year old granddaughter. Their sons are the best of friends with each other which Garry describes as the proudest gift that life has given him. He and Sean, who is his oldest son, are civil engineers and Harley Davidson enthusiasts. They share a dream of one day riding motorcycles together across the United States. Everyone at table loves the United States, frequently breaking into a chant of USA, USA, USA…
That is not to say that they aren’t saddened and bemused by the state of affairs in our country. Sean reflected that it is incredibly sad that this year it is more dangerous to be a high school student in America than in her military’s service.
Before we left on this journey I often remarked that I would consider these travels a success if just once we were approached overseas as strangers and made a part of someone’s universe of friends. My wish has been granted… in Scotland and with these very good people.
Peace Everyone. Pete
PS. We took a “hop on – hop off” bus tour of Glasgow. Many of the following images are from that tour through this remarkably beautiful city. We are now off for the Highlands!