Happy Father’s Day to Dad Our McKinzie Clan Chief

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

In all of your trips to Europe to follow my exploits, I am sorry that I never took you to the Scottish Highlands to see the home of your Clan Mackenzie ancestors, so I traveled there for you.

Now your traveling days are over, so I will paint a word picture of Scotland just as you used to paint magnificent landscapes of the places you visited in Norway, France, Germany and Switzerland that fill our walls with memories.

Loch Duich, Western Scottish Highlands

Loch Duich, Western Scottish Highlands

But how can words ever describe the austere beauty of this rugged land?

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands

A melancholy, capricious land of jagged sea lochs, sheer cliffs and intimidating mountains that inspires myths and legends. Close-shaved shrubs in muted tones -ocher, sienna, and charcoal – cover desolate heath that burst into color under blue skies. Rare sunbeams spotlight the raw grandeur of this roughhewn landscape. A place where ancient castles withstood centuries of battle and weather-beaten homes cling to steep hill sides where grazing sheep far outnumber humans.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle; Loch Duich & Loch Alsch

Though you never ruled Eilean Donan Castle, where Clan Mackenzie’s story began, after having visited this land of shimmering lochs, I see a reflection of the powerful lords of Scotland in you.

Like Kenneth, Collin, Malcolm and our other mighty Mackenzie chiefs of yesteryear, you led our American clan, an honor bestowed from beloved Grandpa Mac. In Gaelic clan means children. At its best the chief held tribal lands on behalf of all ordinary clans people, who shared a relationship like adult children to a father. You, too, protected us and cared for our McKinzie “chateau,” a lakeside cabin, tucked in the woods, a deed generously gifted to future generations.

Jim McKinzieThough unlike our ancient clan chiefs, you never led your tribe in battle against the Munros, MacLeods, or MacDonalds, you inspired countless warriors on the playing fields of Sterling to conquer “enemies” in Dixon, Rock Falls and Rochelle.

Instead of swords, you gave each athlete a moral compass on how to live.

Dornie, on Loch Long

Dornie, on Loch Long

A traveler at heart, you instilled the wanderlust, driving us coast to coast across the highways of America. How you would have loved navigating Scotland’s endless back roads and exploring footpaths through purple heather, around misty lakes and along ragged seashores.

As an adventuresome outdoorsman, you taught us to read maps hiking in the wilderness of Wisconsin discovering lost lakes hidden in dense forests. You showed us how to identify moss and trees, to distinguish deer prints and chipmunk burrows, to find beaver dams and fox dens.

The Highland (Gaelic) culture was also filled with spellbinding, storytellers. Around campfires, you too spun fine tales about the Hodag, the mythical beast of the north woods, our American version of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster of Scotland.

As if clan bloodlines transcended generations, like your father and his forefathers, you became a leader of men and women. You taught us a code of honor, respect for our fellowman, and fierce loyalty toward family.

Perhaps our resilient constitution, strength of character, love of nature, and reverence for an honest days work were virtues passed on from our ancestry. Who knows?

But this I know is true.

Clan McKinzie , USA

Clan McKinzie , USA

As the head of our McKinzie clan, you set the finest example of what it means to be an honorable leader, a strong chief, and a benevolent father.

Even though you regret that you never set foot on the windswept moors of your ancestors, the Scottish Highlands have always been a part of you.

Happy Father’s Day Dad from Scotland

Posted in family, inspiration, travel.


    • Thanks Dave. And also a big thanks for all those students you helped guide throughout your teaching career.

  1. Oh my gosh, Pat, this is such a beautiful tribute to your beloved father and to your Scottish ancestry. It brought tears to my eyes. Your rich descriptions and the gorgeous photos brought me right there with you. Your gift of words will live on Thank
    You for sharing your incredible journey.

  2. Pat I loved reading this story. Your dad has always been a quiet inspiration to so many people. I feel blessed to have been able to spend time with him and Clan McKinzie over the past 50 years!

    • Thanks Jean and we are lucky to have you in our circle. I like your description and yes, he has been a quiet inspiration to many.

  3. Pat, I loved everything about this blog! With your perfectly crafted words, you captured the beauty and awe of Scotland as well as the wonder you experienced in exploring our heritage. And, somehow, you were able to flawlessly weave your descriptions with a tribute to our own beloved clan leader, Dad. Thanks for continuing to share your amazing gift. (And the pictures were stunning!)

  4. Aw, Pat, this is lovely in so many ways! The photos, the story — simply gorgeous! Perhaps your dad, like many of us, carry around in our genes the spirits of our ancestors — though I know he’d love visiting their actual stomping grounds!!

    • Thanks Debbie. I do believe that perhaps we carry within our souls the spirits and maybe even dreams of our ancestors.

  5. Loved this post, Pat. Beautifully written and such a tribute to your father. I’ve really been enjoying following you around Scotland with your rich descriptions and beautiful photos. Your mother and father would have loved going there. But you are carrying on the MacKinzie torch by taking this trip back to the home of your ancestors and then sharing it with the rest of us. Keep on keepin’ on.

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