My Scottish Family

1st National Company of "A Chorus Line." I played "Maggie," who sings "At the Ballet." I still miss doing the show.
You may have wondered how I came to write “As a Deer Yearns for Running Streams.”
Here’s the story.
I was in the First National Company of “A Chorus Line,” back in the horse and buggy age. That’s me, center company, second from the left. You’ll find my maiden name, Lisa Donaldson, on the left side of the photo, near the bottom. I did the show for a year in Los Angeles, and for six months in Chicago. When I decided not to sign a continuation of my contract, I thought, “I’m in Chicago and that’s half-way to Great Britain!” (I hadn’t traveled much, as you can plainly tell). Regardless, I made plans. Sort of. I made plane reservations, bought a Brit Rail pass and made one hotel reservation, just for the first night in London. I’d get on the train when I felt like it and get off when a place looked intriguing. Then I’d try to find a place to stay! The only place I nearly struck out in was Bath, but it turned out to be my favorite place, because I slept in the attic on a small feather bed, with a space heater I had to keep putting coins into so I wouldn’t freeze to death. Ah, youth! And I met the nicest people.

Somewhere on my journey, on some rail station platform, I stood in a crowd, hoping to catch the right train. An unintelligible announcement came over a scratchy speaker. I couldn’t understand a word, so I turned to a rosy-cheeked gentleman to my right, asking, “What did he say?” John Hewitt laughed and filled me in. We chatted and decided to sit next to each other. Across from us was an Englishman and an Aussie – each of us speaking a different flavor of English. My accent sounded crass to my ears, but it was quite an amusing ride to Musselburgh, where John and his family lived.

John told me he was taking me home, where the family would take care of me for a few days. They did, driving me all around the countryside, where I saw lambs gamboling for the first time; and to castles; and back to their home for dinner. They had three boys, David, Colin and Alistair – three fine lads – I liked them all.

After my two weeks in Britain ended and I returned to Los Angeles, the Hewitts and I stayed in touch. John and Doris and I corresponded for years. Doris sent me photos as the boys grew up. Then John and David died, but Doris and I kept up, until one day, the letters stopped. I knew.

About two years ago, Chuck and I decided to visit Edinburgh, so I could research my trilogy about St. Margaret of Scotland. I wanted to reconnect with the “boys.” I remembered that Colin had become a policeman. In this era of social media, I found him in five minutes. He’d gone on to become a detective, and was now retired. He picked up where his parents had left off, driving us to Dunfermline, the home of Margaret and Malcolm III.

My husband, Chuck, on the left, and Colin on the right, stand outside a closed St. Margaret’s Cave, where she often went to pray.

Colin points to a large chimney in the kitchen adjacent to the abbey. Cooks got burned frequently in those days!

Yes! 1072!

This is the new church at Dunfermline Abbey. For an image of the old section, in which Queen Margaret and King Malcolm III were married, see the photo at the top of this page. Do you remember the Mel Gibson film about William Wallace, “Braveheart?” Well, Robert the Bruce was much more important to Scotland’s history than Wallace was. Would you like to see what Robert the Bruce looked like? He’s just to the right of the altar.

(He probably looked cuter with eyeballs).

Anyway, the next day, we met the “boys” and their wives for lunch at a local pub called Greyfriars Bobby.

Bobby was a sweet Skye Terrier who guarded his master’s grave for 14 years until he died in 1872. People still leave sticks for the pup to play with. Don’t miss Bobby’s grave the next time you visit Edinburgh.

“Let his loyalty & devotion be a lesson to us all.”

Good dog-dog.

Oh, my heart.

Finally, what you’ve been waiting for: Colin Hewitt; my husband, Chuck; and Alistair Hewitt. We toasted John and Doris over lunch. I’ll never forget John’s kindness to me at the train station that day, so long ago. The Hewitts will always be a part of my family.

Here’s the rest of the “family.” In the back, left to right: Colin and Alistair. In the front: Carol, Colin’s superb wife; me; and Liz, Alistair’s fabulous wife.

By the way, after all those years as a detective, Colin has written a detective mystery you will want to check out: Neglect of Duty.

And now that you know my story, I invite you to read the result of that first visit to Scotland – Book One about Queen Margaret of Scotland’s life.

As a Deer Yearns for Running Streams

5 thoughts on “My Scottish Family

  1. Very much enjoyed getting the “backstory.” A wonderful insight into the genesis of AS A DEER YEARNS. Great pics and great commentary!


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