When You and I Were Young Maggie

With all of the sadness and the violence happening in the world today I decided to share a story that is heart lifting, something positive with hope in it.

When I was a little girl growing up in Beulah, North Dakota for a period of about six years, life was grand. I played trucks in the dirt with my two older brothers who I adored. Mom was nearby tending to her roses as bees buzzed their way through warm summer days. We attended the annual rodeo and when the carnival came to town, I had my first ride on a Ferris wheel. We swam in the nearby river in the summer, pushed each other on snow sleds in the winter, moved in to the Gray Stone Hotel when the river flooded in the spring. Life was filled with joy, resplendent with enjoyment through all of my senses, everything I saw, everything I heard, everything I smelled.

On my first day of school my two older brothers walked me to school each one holding one of my hands. On the way home we always stopped to visit my dad who was the Manager of the local Occident Lumber Yard. The smell of sawdust to me is still more tantalizing than any perfume. But the most exciting thing was when I first heard a song called When You and I Were Young Maggie. I thought it was the most romantic song I’d ever heard. Even as a little girl I thought the words and the music were perfect for each other. I decided right there and then that this was a song about me and the man I was going to grow old with. But how was he going to know? I could never tell anyone as they would think I was odd. They already thought I was a bit strange as I kept saying I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I had decided:

A love affair with words I’ve had since I was three,

When first they marched out of books to tempt and pleasure me.

And here I was with this song busily moving through my brain in time with the years that passed so swiftly. It was my secret as I was still touchy about people thinking I had too big an imagination. When I learned how to play piano it was always the first song I played; when I learned how to play guitar it was the first song I strummed and sang the words to, always keeping in mind that this was the song about me and the man I’d grow old with.

Many decades passed, years filled with sorrow and with joy, years filled with many errors in judgment and, little by little, gains in wisdom. I changed my last name legally to McKinnon always envisioning the name Marjorie McKinnon on a book jacket and never forgetting my song about Maggie.

In 1999 I began an email correspondence with another McKinnon, Tom, a man who lived in the mountains of Colorado. We met on a genealogy website called Scots on the Net.  Neither of us had any intention of being romantic as we’d both had more than our shares of bumps and bruises in that area. We were done. Nevertheless, the correspondence grew almost at once to daily. A few weeks passed and one day he called. That carried the relationship to a new level. A few weeks later the mail arrived and in it was a package from Tom. I opened it. Inside was a tape and enclosed was a note explaining that he was putting some songs together for me and that the first song had stopped him in his tracks when he had heard it. He said that he hoped I wouldn’t mind if he considered it Our Song. I looked at the name he’d written. The song was titled Maggie. It was an instrumental. I was disappointed. Wasn’t that the Rod Stewart song? It had never been one of my favorites. I put the song in my tape player and pushed start. The first two bars had me in tears. It was my song! The words, the words! They rippled across my tongue as I sang along.

I wandered today to the hill Maggie, to watch the scene below.

Tom said he’d never heard the song before so didn’t know any of the words but for some reason while he listened over and over to the music he felt as if he were standing on a hill watching a scene below.

We were married in Scotland a year later.  On our honeymoon Tom bought me a heart shaped pin with the words inside, “Thou art my choice of earthly joys.” We recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.

We are growing old and gray together and loving it. Today I have 18 books on amazon.com. Of course one should never trust someone with too big an imagination.

For those who are curious, here are the beautiful lyrics.

I wandered today to the hill, Maggie
To watch the scene below
The creek and the rusty old mill, Maggie
Where we sat in the long, long ago

The green grove is gone from the hill, Maggie
Where first the daisies sprung
The old rusty mill is still, Maggie
Since you and I were young

A city so silent and lone, Maggie
Where the young and the gay and the best
In polished white mansion of stone, Maggie
Have each found a place of rest

Is built where the birds used to play, Maggie
And join in the songs that were sung
For we sang just as gay as they, Maggie
When you and I were young

They say I am feeble with age, Maggie
My steps are less sprightly than then
My face is a well written page, Maggie
But time alone was the pen

They say we are aged and gray, Maggie
As spray by the white breakers flung
But to me you’re as fair as you were, Maggie
When you and I were young

And now we are aged and gray, Maggie
The trials of life nearly done
Let us sing of the days that are gone, Maggie
When you and I were young

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