Today a dream came true. My son, Mitchell, will learn to play the bagpipes, as did his grandmother, mother, and uncle before him. When my son was a baby and went to his first Scottish Games sponsored by the Caledonian Club in Pleasanton, my mother made him a wee kilt. He wore this kilt not realizing the unspoken destiny we would all hope he would pursue. I am not terribly subtle, but somehow I managed not to spoil the idea with any overbearing Mamma Rose coercion. I guess I can credit Mitch’s interest in the pipes to our regular visits to the Scottish Games where pipers and drummers march and strut in head to toe Scottish regalia. Most of all I credit Mitch’s uncles, Pat and Sean, for sharing their expertise at the pipes and drums. Example is contagious. During Uncle Pat’s visits, he would help Mitch to put his fingers on my old child size chanter and blow. He even bought him a set of miniature pipes from one of his trips to Scotland.
Mitch turned nine in September and is ready as ever to learn to play an instrument. Some boys at school started to talk about guitar and Mitch began to ask. Unnerved, I jumped into action and made the call to the Prince Charles Pipe Band. I wanted Mitch on the high road to pipes because anyone can take the low road to guitar. Sorry, but that’s my take. And I should know because after four years of chanter playing, I became a guitar girl for masses at my grammar school parish. My guitar instructor was my best friend, Mary Pat. Guitar chords were a breeze compared to the pipes’ reed, bag, chanter, and drones.
The Caledonian Club Hall is in South San Francisco near Colma. Pictures of our relatives and family friends cover the walls. Past Chief Henderson is Mitch’s great grandfather. Past Chief Uncle Tommy Fraser is on display in every room. Mitch’s lessons will be every Sunday morning at 9:00am. After a great start of practicing the scale on the chanter with his teacher Mr. Merriman (our former teacher) we got some practice assignments and headed out.
That morning, Mitch asked if we were near where grandpa and grandma are buried. Very nearby I responded. Would he like to visit? He would. We picked up some fall colored roses at the Costco ¼ of a mile away and made our way across a soaking wet lawn under a sunny fall sky. Mitch brought his chanter at my request. I used my Peet’s coffee mug to transport fresh water. After he “tuned” his chanter during my flower preparations, I introduced the young piper and Mitch tooted and tweeted his first chanter performance for his grandparents. We said the Our Father and some private prayers.
I prayed that grandma would help Mitch stick with the pipes and enjoy his new adventure. As Mr. Merriman told him this morning, he will be part of a group of young kids who will progress together through the band and become good friends. His uncles can attest that being part of a pipe band means that he will have friends for life.