A BLACK Isle woman’s experiences struggling to raise a disabled daughter and finding out more about the mother she lost at the age of two have inspired a book launched this weekend.
In Roots, Routes and Wings, Maggie Wynton recounts her fight to ensure her trailblazing daughter Eilidh, born at just 28 weeks and suffering brain damage, could live independently as an adult – and the intense challenges encountered along the way.
Maggie (70), who lives in Fortrose, recounts the years shuttling between hospital appointments, operations and physiotherapy sessions after Eilidh was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a one-year-old in 1980.
She tells how her daughter became a minor celebrity six years later as one of the first children from Scotland to visit the Peto Institute in Budapest to benefit from an intensive form of physiotherapy called Conductive Education.
At this point Maggie started writing about her experiences. She said: “During Eilidh’s early years I was fuelled by a desire to commit to paper the plethora of experiences we shared as a family coming to terms with a disabled child.”
Maggie, who has been married to her husband Ron for 48 years, added: “Over the years I had also tried to find out more about my mum, whom I lost as a young child, and in piecing together this information I came to write about my life.
“After my dad died I found a small, brown, battered case among his personal possessions. Inside was an amazing miscellany of keepsakes.
" There were photographs, my tonsillectomy bills, the card my mum received from church when she became a member, my mum and dad’s work references, some of the notes from my dad’s accountancy course, letters – many of which they’d written to each other when my mum was in hospital, sympathy cards and the newspaper announcing my mum’s death.”
By the age of 20 and a qualified primary teacher, Maggie was soon to be tasked with taking a class of more than 40 pupils to the swimming baths in Dundee on her own on the public bus in midwinter.
She recalls: “Lochee Baths were both old and compact. The changing room below was communal and known as ‘The Dungeon’. I don’t remember there being any hair driers, so during the cold weather damp hair froze. Girls with long hair were transformed into ice maidens, with icicles in their hair!”
She now hopes her story will inspire those who read it to record their own family memories. She believes the book will appeal to others who lost a parent in childhood, who coped with having a child with a disability or who simply grew up through the Baby Boom years, as she did.
Her daughter Linsey (42), a journalist, said: “Reading this transports me back to my mum’s time – a time when life was simpler and less pressurised. I love the references to the music, the food, the clothing and landscape, and even the Archers, as well as some of the very colourful characters my mum met along her route.
“For me two images sum up my life with my mum: her taxiing us around in her orange Fiat Mirafiori listening to Dionne Warwick’s Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head; and the Angel Delight and Ruskoline years of my mum juggling eggs as she danced round the kitchen to Robbie Shepherd’s Scottish Country dancing show on the radio.”
The book is published by For the Right Reasons, an Inverness publisher and charity dedicated to helping people recovering from addictions.