Island Blog – Call them by their Names

This island night, I hear of another name, suddenly moved into the past. Just like that. She was a woman I met now and again, and one I always saw as strong. Strong, hmm, means something else up here in island life. It means tough against pretty much everything. Atlantic slice winds, sudden have-tos in the middle of something else, like baking or feeding a babe or just sweeping the floor. As woman here you need toes on your toes, ready at any moment for the ice swipe of out there to save a cow from the bog in mid February when the hail is ready to take you out, when you can barely stand on a rock face that doesn’t give a monkey’s about whether you succeed or fail, but you are always ready. She was.

She was, and is, Jeannie. Others who I remember this night also need naming. So, here I go. Jessie, her twin sister, Donnie her husband and Angus her son; Kirsty, Katy, Helen, Kathy, Amy, Willie, John, Mouse, Jonnie, Belle, Blind Katy, David, Hughie, Eck, Katy, Bert, Chrissie, Sonny,and so many more; folk I met when I moved here as a complete idiot and who became my kindly guides. As an incomer, back then, a welcome was not expected. I get it, now. However, island west coast folk have big old hearts and I met those hearts. They may have laughed at us but they didn’t block us out.

Hey Jeannie. I am so glad I met you. I saw, in you and Jessie, strong women with attitude. From my protected life, women like you stood out, literally. Tall and booted up, in the ring, in the field, in among the shit of stock farming in sometimes cruel conditions. You showed me that being woman is not a thing to be taken lightly, nor restricted to domestic duties. I smile as a I write this, because without knowing you changed me, you did. Thank you.

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