By Don Munro
Donnie sat on the edge of a bed in a small room, the ceiling only inches from his head. He wore a hat, canvas, with a brim all around, the kind that fishermen wear. The sun was streaming in the window, and he was staring right into it, blinded by its yellow light.
He was quiet. This was the first time in 80 years he’d been back in this room.
He turned from the window and glanced at the door, and in his mind’s eye, his mother, Christine, appeared—red hair in a bun and a white apron tied round her waist. She was coming in to wake him and Roddie, his older brother, for school, the smell of porridge rushing in along with her.
He saw Roddie’s face, too. Not the face he gazed on in a coffin in 1930 — when Roddie died in a fall from his construction site on the George Washington bridge. This time, Donnie saw him as a boy lying beside him in bed—the lanky body of a teenager; freckles, tousled hair the color of sand; and green eyes thick with the crust of sleep.
Donnie thought about the day in 1923 when they’d left this room, this house, saying goodbye at his fathers grave … to granny Munro out at the farm … the neighbors … to Alness.
He remembered, too, how excited he was to board the train, and then the ship to America. At the time, it all seemed like a wonderful adventure. As a boy, he imagined America a land of cowboys and Indians and movies. Money, like giant flakes of dirty snow, floated down from the skyscrapers to the streets below.
But leaving made his mother’s heart ache. She lived another 25 years in America, but hardly a day went by when she didn’t talk about her “bonnie Scotland.”
And now, finally, he was back. His grandson, the one the family called “wee Donnie,” stood beside him in the room. The air was still and warm–a relief from the chilly wind that blew down from the mountains and through the street outside.
Donnie picked up his cane and rose from the bed. He went to the window, looked up into the Highland sky and whispered: “I’m home, Ma.”