Her glass was nearly empty. It had been that way for sometime. She had an odd look in her usually sharp eyes. They had become bright. She took the whisky bottle before I could reach it and pour. She shook her head at another drink. Instead she held up the bottle and pointed at the label with her free hand.
     “Can you say this?”
I leaned and squinted at the run of words. She did not even wait for me to look baffled but lowered the green glass bottle and smiled at it fondly.
     “Bunnahabhain” she pronounced softly indicating the syllables: boo-nah-ha-ven.
     “Was it one of your dad’s favorites?”
     She nodded and laughed. “At the wedding reception, my sister and I nearly drank a whole bottle by ourselves. Dad was mad at us. He kept tellin’ us to put it back on the head table, so he could have some later.” She shook her head. “We just kept it and he’d find us, give us his look-of-doom and gesture at the table.”
     “Couldn’t he drink?”
     “Of course,” she smiled, “but he didn’t want to because…” she paused then began again, “somehow he knew there would never be a ceilidh like that again and he wanted to remember everything.”
     “Did he?”
     “Remember everything?”
     “Oh, yes,” she smiled. “Not too long ago he mentioned that night saying one of the best parts was my Uncle John telling him at the end of the night, ‘…this was an epic night…’ He was so proud.”
     “It sounds like it was a good time; I wish I could have been there.”
     “You’d have loved it,” she laughed. “When we were driving out, we passed my Uncle Chris parked by the gates, hanging out the far door of his truck just heaving his guts up. His soon to be fiancé was sitting there totally serene acting like everything was normal, which I guess it kinda was…”
     She fell silent, but I could see the memory dancing in her eye until it faded. She finished her glass and I took the bottle and poured another. She took up the water and poured it.
     “Not a pure-ist, eh?” I teased.
     “Dad said that the old men at the school taught him to always take water, preferably water from the distillery where the whisky was made, with his whisky,” she explained. “They told him, ‘Why would ye burn yer taste-buds and leave yerself unable to taste yer whisky for the rest of the night!?’
     “He never went to Scotland?”
     “No,” she sighed. “He saved for it and had more than enough friends there to stay with. One of them taught me how to correctly pronounce the name there,” she nodded to the bottle again. “But he never went.”
     “It sounds like he did his best to bring the country here.”
     “What parts of it he could…and what parts of it he felt worth the effort…the Gaelic, the piob, the ceol, the stories and legends, games, dancing…and the whisky,” she grinned toasting the bottle with a tink. “A love of outside and fires, the moon and the stars, mountains and running water, ocean and fish, saints and faeries, hospitality and a fierce loyalty that brooked no condition.”
     I could almost see him in her words.
     “Not that it couldn’t get a wee bit annoying,” she murmured cryptically taking another drink.
     “What do you mean? It all sounds wonderful.”
     “Oh it was, but you’ve never been woken up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night to the piobaireachd.” She was laughing. “That, my friend is a singular experience.”
     I laughed with her imagining what she must have looked like, bolt upright, eyes wide, hair disheveled.
     “Did it scare you, the pipe music?”
     “At first!” Her laugh slowly settled into a soft smile. “But then we’d simply fall asleep again to the sound. After a bit it was like listening to rain on the roof, or the wash of surf…his snores.”
     For a time afterward the only sounds heard were her memories and the cold stones of her glass.
     She abruptly gestured up over the mantle at a large handsomely framed blue photo of a group of standing stones frosted by snow and moonlight.
     “That’s one of the Callanish rings on the Isle of Lewis in the West.”
     “Beautiful,” I said with feeling.
     We admired it for a time as she explained its significance and that it had been a treasured present from his lovely wife, her step-mother. We turned back to our glasses slowly.
     “So he taught you some of the language?”
     “Well,” she crooked up the corner of her mouth. “He taught us a bit. I’m not sure he knew a lot himself.” She gazed into her glass for so long, I wondered if she would say anymore.
     “Do you know what the first Gaelic words he taught me were?”
     “What?” I asked gently.
     “Tha gaol agam ort,” she whispered. “It means, I love you.” Her eyes were bright again as she filled our glasses.