You CAN go home again

In “The God Box” I wrote about my beloved Dad, Ray Finlayson. I only wish he could see what I have discovered– the grave of Dad’s great- great grandparents Alexander Finlayson and Margaret MacAllester in the far, far north of Scotland. I walked the street where they lived on the edge of the North Sea and imagined Margaret scanning the water each night for Alexander, a ship’s pilot on the rocky coastline. I do believe she was watching out for me too because St. Peter’s Church where they were married and finally laid to rest– now only ruins from the 1200s– had been closed for the past six years. We planned just to peer through the locked iron gate. It reopened for the first time the day before we got there. I walked into the churchyard and straight to this stone as if they called me over.  I was so grateful to finally find them. But my father in law Tom Quinlan said, “Oh no, it is they who are happy. They have been waiting a long, long time for you.”

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Lynne Scott

July 16, 2013

Such an exciting find !! I too, found my gr.gr.great grandparents grave a few years ago by accident,(or serendipity) and only 20 miles from where I live !!! Enjoy !!

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press & praise
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  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
    – ELIZABETH GILBERT, AUTHOR OF "EAT, PRAY, LOVE"
  • "What a beautiful and profoundly human book....I will keep The God Box in my heart for a long, long time."
    – LAURA SCHROFF, AUTHOR OF "THE INVISIBLE THREAD"
  • "Mary Lou Quinlan shares her mother’s handmade and heartfelt gift of how to persist, believe and move forward with joy."
    – LEE WOODRUFF, AUTHOR OF "IN AN INSTANT"
  • "Mary Lou Quinlan has told the story of her mother in a way that entertains, moves and inspires. The thoughts about life and values will stick with you forever."
    – JIM LEHRER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF PBS NEWSHOUR
  • "A wonderful legacy…Keeping a God Box is an incredibly moving and hopeful ritual that we should all consider adding into our daily lives."
    – REBA, MUSICIAN, AUTHOR, ACTRESS
  • "The courage and wisdom from the messages left in her mother’s God Box will inspire you to create a God Box of your own."
    – GAIL SHEEHY, AUTHOR OF "PASSAGES IN CAREGIVING"
  • "In the slips of paper that carry this sweet story forward, we can see the love in our own families and the great possibilities of simple faith."
    – JEFFREY ZASLOW, COAUTHOR OF "THE LAST LECTURE"

Still Hearing my Dad

July 26, 2014
by Mary Lou Quinlan

One of the most beautiful lines in Alice McDermott’s newest book “Someone” traces a daughter’s relationship with her Dad: “with my heart pinned to my father’s sleeve.” Stopped me in my tracks. That’s how I loved my Dad.  Since dancing on his shoes as a girl, I never stopped following in his footsteps, as I did in this photo taken when Dad was 88. I cherish his memory. Ray Finlayson always knew what to say to his only daughter.   How many teenagers despair in the mirror, dreading they will never measure up?  Dad...

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