When I started this blog, the referendum had 200 days to go. Now there are only 11 - how did that happen? I had hoped to fill this space full of snippets and stories of how the campaign impacted on my life during this time. Little did I know just how that would unfold. Just days after setting up Hebridean Women for Independence with some fantastic island women, my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer, already spread to the spine. Immediately we were plunged into another world - surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy - our personal future is very uncertain indeed.
One of the first things we did, once we got over the initial shock, was to apply for a postal vote - and since John was re-admitted to hospital this weekend, that was a good plan. Indeed, we have already cast our votes - both Yes, you wont be surprised to read. But isn't our story a cautionary one - playing out the fears spread by the Better Together campaign? The future is uncertain - we just don't know what will happen....it's safer not to take the chance - what if...(insert scare story of choice). Of course it isn't. For us it is an even bigger reason that Scotland should become an independent country. No-one knows what the future holds, even day to day, never mind years from now. I read a pertinent quote about democracy recently, which said 'if you want utter certainty, go and live in a dictatorship' What we can do, on 18th September, is to take control of the means to make the choices that work for us in Scotland - and if we don't like the outcomes - then at least we can do something concrete about it, unlike now.
I see a lot of tourists around here, when I am out and about. I love to watch them falling in love with the place - admiring, wondering, enjoying. I speak to many of them, and am often told how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful area. I know. But lately I have been noticing how many older couples there are. It is a good time for them to have a wee last minute break here, while the weather is still quite nice, and the weans have all gone back to school. They are, invariably, fit and healthy looking, prosperous, middle class, enjoying an active retirement. I have met lovely folk in their 60s, 70s and even 80s taking in the views and enjoying walks on the beaches. They say that they envy me with all this on my doorstep. It's meant as a compliment, and that's how I take it.
But, right now, I wonder what use it is, living in this beautiful part of the country, when I am likely to be a widow by the age of 55. Picturesque Scotland has the highest premature death rate in this "glorious union", and so it follows that Scottish women are more likely to be widowed early. It makes me so angry that this has been allowed to happen. My husband has lung cancer, although he is a non-smoker. However much you try to rationalise it though - there is no escaping that stigma. Lung cancer is a disease of poverty. It is symptomatic of a marginalised society. However much you think you have moved on -bettered yourself - it catches up with you in the end.
I don't want this to be happening - to me or to anyone else. It makes me so sad to think that generations of Scottish wives have widowed too early - that grandchildren have missed their grandfathers, and that elderly mothers have seen their sons put in the grave, because of poverty and inequality. I am angry that I will be wandering these beautiful beaches on my own...
As the Referendum campaign has gone on, during the last few years, I have become more and more angry at just how unequal our society is, how easy it is to make scapegoats out of those at the bottom of the social pile. But I have been heartened too, at how many people have also realised this and are voting for social justice, and the opportunity to change these inequalities for everyone. I sense a real turning of the tide, here in Scotland and I pray that it strengthens and sweeps away that mindset that has kept us 'in our place' for so long. With a Yes vote, we can begin to usher in those real and radical changes that we so desperately need. Feel the strength of those waves - we have the power to harness that energy on 18th September. I hope we do - for all our sakes - Vote Yes x