I have some ongoing difficulties as a result of my strokes and one in particular almost kept me from being allowed to come into my own country. This one is evidenced whenever I am overtired or overstressed and brings a smile to those around me whenever it happens. I seem to speak a foreign language. It’s not that I slur my words . . . it’s that they come out in a Scottish brogue. Imagine that! The more tired or stressed I am, the stronger the brogue. The tongue twists and turns and delights. This then is usually not a problem. On this day however, it would prove to be so!
My husband was working up in Toronto, Canada and had suffered a heart attack. I was in Ohio and couldn’t drive due to difficulties from my stroke less than a year before this. * I needed help to get to my husband. Gratefully, I had a very good friend who was able to get the time away from her work and family to take me there. We crossed the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit, Michigan into Windsor, Ontario without any problems and went on to Toronto.
Dan’s heart attack had damaged the lower bottom section of his heart and the doctors felt he would recover. They were more concerned that he had pericarditus, an infection and painful inflammation of the sac around the heart. After more than a week, he was released and allowed to return to our home town to be admitted at a hospital there for continued care due to the pericardium difficulties.
We had a problem . . . both of our cars were there in Toronto. My friend could only drive one. I couldn’t drive and Dan shouldn’t drive, but he did. He was stubborn like that! We could have left the car and returned for it another time but he wouldn’t hear of it. My friend had gone on ahead of us as she was anxious to get back home to her family. Though we stopped often and rested, it was still quite a long trip. We were both very tired by the time we approached the Ambassador Bridge.
We were stopped at the United States Customs booth, as all must . . . and were almost denied admittance back into the United States because of my lilting brogue! Keep in mind that this was January of 2002, just months after 9/11. Passports were not yet required for crossing here, though they soon would be. I didn’t have one. I only had my driver’s license to prove who I was and where I lived. Same name and address of course as Dan’s but the Customs official wasn’t having it. The more he questioned me, the more flustered I became and thus the stronger my brogue until one could hardly understand me at all. He insisted that Dan be quiet and demanded answers from me to prove that I was indeed a U.S. citizen. I surely did not sound like one!
We were finally allowed to pass through and hurried home with great relief.
Dan was admitted into the local hospital and continued his recovery. I was happy to be home, though I was not so quick to chuckle at my funny brogue ever again.
What is the difference between a Scottish brogue and an accent? Nothing – Brogue is a nicer word though that gives the feel of warm, rolling speech.
Pictures: Ambassador Bridge, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.; Saint Andrews Cross – Flag of Scotland
*Footnote – though it took another year, I was able to drive once again. Freedom!