My Grampa

This is my family tree.

My line is in bold: it shows my Mum's side; her Dad's and his parents.
I didn't have space to go further back than that, but one day - when I have time (huh? What's 'time'?, Where does a person get that?!) I may do a full family tree, going as far back as I can.

Highlighted in this copy is Malcolm MacDonald. He was my mum's dad.
Although his official name was Malcolm, he was Calum to everyone who knew him.

In the days in which his birth was being registered, the names on the official birth certificates had to be English. And so, although most people had Gaelic names, their birth certificate would show the English version of that name.

I'll tell you a little about my grandfather.

My Grampa lived in our family home until his death. I was nine years old when he died and to this day, I can barely speak of him without getting teary.

I know nobody is perfect, but humanly speaking.... He was the perfect grandfather.

I never, ever remembered him being impatient, tired or grumpy. When my older brother was a wee boy, he traipsed along side him all day, every day. When Grampa went to the peat stack for peats, my brother followed with the wee red wheelbarrow Grampa had made him; when he went to the barn, my brother followed him there. 

My mum can honestly say that she never had one cause in all the years of living with him of frustration or anger. Grampa was, of course, my Dad's father-in-law. He can think of not one bad word to say about him; on the contrary, he can't praise him enough. He adored him.

This photo is not clear, but here he is going to give his only daughter - my Mum! - away on her wedding day.

He didn't interfere with Mum and Dad when they were bringing us kids up, and yet, it would break his heart if he saw us being chastised in any way. He was a softie.

Over the years, whenever I'd meet older people from our district and tell them whose granddaughter I was, without fail, I'd get the same response - paraphrased in the sentiment: 'Beloved for your fathers' sakes' (Rom 11:28) (Gràdhaichte air sgàth nan athraichean). I was then automatically loved because of the love these people had for both my grandparents.

....Back to the beginning...

Grandpa was born in 1892, just a few yards from the house in which I grew up, and less than a mile from where I live now. His father was William MacDonald, and his mother, Catherine (Catriona Bheag - wee Catherine!).

He served in the Navy during the First World War. Like most men of his generation, he never talked about his wartime experiences. How I'd love to be able to speak to him now, when the lives of men of his generation would fascinate me.

My Grampa was at sea before he married, and spent twelve years sailing in New Zealand. Mum is not sure, but it's likely he 'jumped ship' like many island boys did. He sailed on two ships: the TTS Wahine, which was an inter-island ferry sailing between Wellington and Lyttelton, NZ; and the Tahiti, seen here in Wellington Harbour in 1928.

There is no way of knowing, but he could have been on the ship when this photo was taken, in 1928.

My mum has two large paintings of the ships I named here. They are beautiful - painted on a very dark navy velvet.

We don't know what made him come back 'home', but shortly after returning, he married Annie Morrison. He was nearly 40; she was 35. They were to be blessed with four children, although they lost one child, Donald Gunn, with pneumonia at the age of about 3 months. 

My Mum was the only daughter, and the youngest. (Does that make her automatically spoiled?!)

Here is Grampa at the front, along with three nephews - brothers. The brother on the far right is my mum's cousin who is now in Ontario, and with whom we've been able to visit a couple of times. The other two are, sadly, no longer with us.

Oh, the picture on the wall (with the white frame - what can I say? - it was the 60s) is one of the New Zealand ships spoken of previously.

My Grampa was such a huge part of my life, and yet, to our children, he's only a name. Isn't that the way of things. One generation moves on and another comes in its place.

Very soon, that will be us....just a name on someone's family tree.

"As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more." (Psalm 103: 15, 16) 

Or, in the Scottish Metrical version, which I love... 

Frail man, his days are like the grass,
as flow'r in field he grows:

For over it the wind doth pass.
and it away is gone;
And of the place where once it was
it shall no more be known.


  1. That picture of your grandpa with his brothers is so islander! there is just something about Island Men that no matter what they do, where they go or how they dress they will always look islanderish (yep thats a proper word!) I have so many pics of my family that could be easily interchanged with that one! It always amazes me that so many people from the islands travel all round the world but all they ever want to do is go home! I havent lived on the islands since I was 3 and it will always be "home" to me as well. Lovely to hear about your family x

  2. That is wonderful that you have all that information I need to do some leg work for our family tree and get all our information written down ~Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading about your family. Love Heather

  3. Dear Friend, I can only say this post made so miss my parents and grandparents. You really painted such a sweet picture of him. Be blessed and have a great weekend. Roxy

  4. Well this one made me cry, and made me miss your Grandfather along with you. I hope one day our Grandchildren can say such things about Steve and I.
    Much Love,

  5. How blessed to have such a man as your very own Grandfather. I love this post! I love hearing about where others come from & their ancestors, family histories are the most interesting.

  6. A great post...
    Even tho' my earthly family did not have a "terrific history" to share, I so love reading the goodness of the LORD in the lives of dear friends.

    May I, by the grace of GOD, live a life that my children and their children would one day want to write a story with such tender affection about me, their Momma and Grandma.


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