Like many of us, we moved around a fair bit when I was young. No matter where we were, though, I can promise you this: hanging in a prominent location was this old framed sketch of MacDuff.
Being a kid, I didn’t know why the sketch was so important to my Dad, but when I was an adult helping him through chemotherapy, I asked about it and am very glad I did.
My mom is Scottish, born and raised in Glasgow, and met my Dad when she was a teenager protesting the arrival of the nuclear-powered submarine docked near Glasgow. She was protesting the Ethan Allen – the sub my Dad served on.
Somehow they met, and my Dad was able to charm her enough to see her, get to know her, and eventually propose.
That’s how and when MacDuff comes into the picture. I have no memories of my Grandfather on my mom’s side, but apparently, he was quite the caricature of a late 1960’s Scottish male; lean, feisty, and very fond of his drink.
When it came time for my Dad to ask his future father-in-law for my mom’s hand in marriage, that was to take place at a small pub my Grandfather frequented.
After several drinks, my Dad was able to summon up the liquid courage and talk to my Grandfather about his intentions. At this point, he was quickly told there was a snowball’s chance in hell of it happening. There was zero chance of my Dad stealing his daughter and taking her to the US.
Make sure you have a clear picture of this in your head: my Dad (all 5’8 and 150 lbs of him) on a foreign shore, drunk in uniform and surrounded by feisty Scots.
But then, my Grandfather said he had an idea: could my father see the sketch of MacDuff hanging prominently behind the bar? My Grandfather had always been very fond of the sketch and said if my father could steal it and get out of the bar intact – he would reconsider his answer.
So. My father did what any sane US military person in his situation would do -he paid his tab, went to the bathroom, and then SPRINTED past the shocked bartender. He grabbed MacDuff, vaulted over the bar, and was out the door lost and trying to remember how to get back to the house.
Obviously, he didn’t get his ass kicked, and my Grandfather later gave him MacDuff as a wedding present. It’s why my Dad loved it and kept it in a place of prominence for almost 50 years until he died, and I inherited it.
And now I keep it in a place where I always see it. Why?
Not only is it an awesome sketch of a fearless kilted Scot running barefoot up a hill, sword in hand, while waving what appears to be a beret. It’s also a daily reminder for me to be more like MacDuff and my father.
When life gives you an opportunity – take it and run all out as if your life depended on it. Do so, even if you are pretty sure you’re going to get a beating and most likely end up in a Scottish jail for the night.
Second chances are hard to get. Sometimes you need to stop worrying about the ass-kicking you are surely about to get and get on with it. More often than not, it’s not as bad as you thought it would be.