The Collection: Mom Selfies

Last week’s prompt, provided by Charli Mills, at Carrot Ranch was to write a 99-word (no more, no less) about a mom selfie and to go where the prompt led.

This pedometer geek writer does not take selfies, nor do I have the technology of a smartphone so this prompt was a bit difficult although it was easier than the prompt for this week, but I digress. Regardless, this pedometer geek writer managed the following story:

Ethnicity: Does It Matter?

Mom always said that her father never said where they came from except to say they were hilligans. When I asked what that meant, she said she didn’t know.

Not knowing or questioning her father didn’t seem to bother her. Mom accepted his explanation and considered the matter closed.  Not me, though, I wondered.

She knew her grandparents surnames and from that, I can only surmise that they were Scottish. Could they have on the wrong side at the Battle of Culloden and been forced to emigrate? Could they have been Highlanders kicked off their lands? I’ll never know.

~Nancy Brady, 2022

To be perfectly honest, I still don’t know exactly what my grandfather meant by hilligan; I can make an educated guess though. When I wrote this story, I even checked to see if there was a definition of it. Urban Dictionary had one, but that definition doesn’t fit the reality of what I knew about him since I knew where he grew up.

To read all the stories by the Word Wranglers in The Collection: Mom Selfies, check out the blog at They are worth reading.

In the meantime, this Word Wrangler needs to write to this week’s prompt. To join in. check out the blog to find out what the weekly prompt is because everyone is invited to the Carrot Ranch.

About pedometergeek

A pharmacist by profession, a haiku poet by nature, I read and write. I have a book of haiku, Ohayo Haiku, and another somewhat alternative haiku book, Three Breaths, but write other genres. I also read...lots of novels! My favorite is, and remains, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged but I am also a big Harry Potter fan. I truly am a pedometer geek strapping on my pedometer as soon as I awaken.
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15 Responses to The Collection: Mom Selfies

  1. JC home says:

    To influence your future you should know your past. But, a hilligan? You got me on that one. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, JC, that’s what Mom always said he said. I suspect it was an easy answer for my grandfather to tell her. I wrote a 99 word story about my mom and me and aging a couple years ago that is more of a mom selfie than this one. I actually considered re-running it, but figured that was cheating…hence my hilligan story. ~nan


  2. Marsha says:

    Hi Nan, This link I’m going to send you probably means a lot more to you than it does to me. It explains the word and the place and the people. It may not apply to you, but it is interesting.


    • Marsha, thanks for the information about the Hilligan name. I didn’t even realize that it was a surname. My grandfather’s surname was Spence, which is English, I believe. It’s been a while since I looked at the genealogy of his line, but the Spence name runs through it. I should know his mother’s maiden name, but it escapes me at the moment, but I suspect that the first of the line to emigrate were from somewhere in the British Isles, and I was putting together a possible scenario from knowing how many Scots came to the US after the highlands were cleared out.
      I don’t recall ever actually seeing the name Hilligan in any of the charts my sister and her husband worked out. I really think his terminology was based on where he grew up, near the hills of West Virginia and southern Ohio, and it was an easy answer to my mom’s questions.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marsha says:

        Since the word could also mean hills, it is probably a term that we never hear now but was more common when he was young. One of my ancestor’s last name (English) was Hogshire in the 1600s meaning township of the hogs. I assume that our ancestors were hog farmers. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not sure that ethnicity should matter for anything but that’s just me. When I first read the word ‘hilligan’ I thought was a portmanteau of ‘hill’ and ‘hooligan’. So someone who might live in a hilly area and be involved in some less than legal things.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michael B. it shouldn’t matter, but sometimes one wonders. I really think the word comes from living near hills, somewhat like a hillbilly, but maybe it is just something my grandfather made up or was covering up. The man I knew was gentle and loving, but I think there were hidden depths that I never suspected.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jules says:

    I’m with you about not being able to know the depths of some of our relatives. Once mine came to America they wanted nothing to do with the past – except for some food traditions, Maybe a few religous ones. But they never really shared much about where they came from or why they left.

    My family was one for making up words. I think to take Hilligan just as you did. Coming from an area with hills. Way back though folks did take surnames from their professions or surroundings.
    Some even of animals to try an possess that strength. One didn’t always have a surname. Some ‘serfs’ took on their master’s names or the area where they came from. If you want complications – go to the contries where the sons and daughters of the same familly take on the names of either the mother or the father.

    These days though the medical information is some of the most valuable information we can get. Though I have no desire to take any of the DNA tests to trace your roots. I know heritage can go back 17 generations. I can go back three – to four generations (just names mostly). I’ll have to rely on modern medicine to decipher my ‘blood needs’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jules, you have enlightened and informed me. I know in Iceland or one of the Scandinavian countries they have a weird naming pattern. Can you imagine trying to make sense of that? I know that in Scotland they name children (at least their first names) in some pattern based on grandparents so that many cousins have the same names, etc.

      I have taken two DNA tests, and I like that the company keeps updating information based on new evidence (health and otherwise), yet the reality is that they are very accurate. My sons and sisters all show up in my family with the same relationship as I know them to be as well as some of my (known) cousins. Knowing my genetic makeup makes me feel more connected to people that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered kin otherwise. It hopefully makes me a bit more kinder and gentler to others who may look different than me, but may just be a family member I just haven’t identified yet. I only wish that the technology had been there when my parents were still alive. I will never know my father’s haplogroup; the closest might be my paternal grandmother’s haplogroup if the right member of the family took a DNA test, too.

      I know some of the genealogy of my father’s line, but know little of my mother’s line. Alas…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Actual wars or wars within the family? I know my dad traced his family back to Scotland in the 1740s.


  7. Norah says:

    Those are interesting questions, Nan. It would be good to find answers. Hilligans sounds like it could mean Highlanders. It also sounds a bit like hooligans too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Agree with your assessment, Norah, especially if the person is young (and not thinking that deeply).


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