Hearing how excited the Shetlanders were to finally have access to the inside of Eshaness Lighthouse helped make the signing of the papers easier.
Sitting in Detroit Metro airport waiting to board my British Airways flight to London, which is the first part of my trip to Eshaness Lighthouse, I realized I was afraid. There was only one other time I could remember being afraid. Seven years ago, when I made the trip to take possession of the lighthouse, I was terrified. This time I was returning to give possession of the lighthouse to someone else. It was not only that, causing my trepidation, but whether my injured back would be okay. The horror of my injury last summer at the lighthouse was still fresh in my mind.
Tom, our lighthouse caretaker, met me at the airport in Shetland. It was a beautiful day and the sun was glistening on a deep blue ocean. I was truly glad to be back and the anxiety I felt when I left Detroit had almost disappeared. For the entire hour and a half drive to the lighthouse, we talked about the hurricane winds that had hit the island
two days ago. The outside of the Eshaness Lighthouse had not suffered any storm damage but the telephone was out, which meant no communication with the outside world except by mobile phone. We had no wireless reception in the house because of the thick walls. My mobile did work about half the time if you went away from the tower into the hills. Total isolation meant my anxiety level began to rise again. It took three days to get my telephone line fixed but my TV was gone for another week. Modern living at a lighthouse is continually a challenge.
I kept myself busy, sorting what I would leave at the lighthouse and what would be shipped back to the States. There were many tears during this process because inside, I did not want to ship anything and continue coming to the lighthouse like always. My back did give me trouble but medication and my being very careful kept the pain under control. You would think I would be pleased but it just made me doubt whether we made the right decision about shortening my lighthouse stays.
Without my Shetland friends, I could not have endured that month. They helped me pack which was no easy task since everything had to go by boat to the States. They kept me entertained with many trips to see beautiful Shetland. One of them went with me the day I signed the papers moving ownership of the lighthouse to the Amenity Trust then took me out to dinner afterwards. Most of them came for dinner the night before I left the lighthouse. Another friend bought me dinner at the airport hotel the night before I got on the plane to come back to the States. Everyone kept reminding me that I would be back in August and that we would keep in touch, which we have.
My Detroit airport fears never came true. I lived through the pain. I was able to ship everything I wanted back to the States, even my spinning wheel. Hearing how excited the Shetlanders were to finally have access to the inside of Eshaness Lighthouse helped make the signing of the papers easier. But, most of all, through the constant support of my friends, I realized Eshaness was still ours if only for one month a year. To my surprise, when I got on the plane to fly back to the States, I was happy. To share Eshaness Lighthouse was the right decision. The lighthouse was in expert local hands. Dean and I would be back in August to the beautiful little house on its 200-foot cliff above the sea and my Eshaness adventures would continue!
This story appeared in the
June 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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