TOMORROW I will give the eulogy at my mother’s funeral in Glasgow. Her passing is a colossal life event for my family, as such moments are for all families. It will be hard to speak, to hold it together. But it will also be a great privilege. Preparing it has helped me with my own grief because I have cast my mind across the span of a life lived in loving service of others for 85 years.

The war years formed Dorothy Wilson. At the age of six she was evacuated from Glasgow to live with a family she did not know, in the countryside. Six years old, imagine that. She returned to finish her schooling at High Possil Senior Secondary. She left that school at 14, as was the lot of so many at the time.

Dorothy lived in Glasgow, Dundee, Wishaw and then home to Glasgow again. Her life after school revolved around St Matthew’s Scottish Episcopal Church and her faith defined so much of who she was. It was then that she met a young curate who was to become one of the finest people Scotland produced in his generation. Richard Holloway, also born in Possil, is a man who has inspired me and so many others in so many ways. More on him below.

Twenty lives in total are a direct result of her own life. The current count for her mother Sarah is 37. Generations of creation anchored in the loving care of strong and clever women from Possilpark.

She was never hugely political but believed it her moral duty to vote as a woman and a citizen. I think in her life she will have voted for pretty much every party at some point or another. She wasn’t at all convinced about independence when I was growing up. She retained a very strong sense of British identity forged in the experience of war and the rebuilding in its aftermath. That said, she voted Yes in 2014 with great and passionate belief in the future for all the children she helped create. She thought that vote was about them, not her.

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My own politics were formed in the 1980s and I joined the CND before I joined any political party because I worried about nuclear weapons so much. Ironically, one of the most amusing family memories mum enjoyed was me on holiday in Dunoon jumping off the sewage pipe into the sea to ride the waves from the passing Polaris submarine. Happy days.

After joining the SNP, I became active in its student organisation and was very much encouraged by Alex Salmond, who appointed me the party’s spokesperson on Trident at the tender age of 20. What did I know? I was election agent in the 1992 election to another of the many strong women in my life, Kay Ullrich, who had some years earlier in Ayrshire signed up a young woman called Nicola Sturgeon to the party. I wonder what became of her? We ran a great campaign focused on the impending (and entirely unnecessary) closure of Ravenscraig steelworks.

The National:

The Wilson family on holiday at Croy Shore

I then graduated and started my own career and at that point in a child’s life I guess every parent can pat themselves on the back and declare the job done. If only. My mum was there for me through every triumph and disaster in my life right into my middle age. Proud when I took my oath as an MSP in the first Scottish Parliament and there to pick up the pieces when I became a single dad.

The reason I mention all of this is because the overriding thought in her mind was always about the importance of the generations that followed her own mother and now her. Her whole life was devoted to them.

We held a party for her 60th wedding anniversary at the gorgeous House for an Art Lover at Bellahouston. After the telegram from the Queen was read, she asked a whole bunch of people to stand up so that she could point out that they were all the descendants of her mum Sarah Bunting. It was a classically awkward moment for a West of Scotland crowd, but also a deeply moving one.

She thought in generations and what I propose to do in this column is precisely that. Just as any parent spends a generation stewarding their child to adulthood, so must we all do for the country they grow up in.

If a generation is 25 years, then there have been 47 so far since Scotland was born in 843. That means this year marks the beginning of generation 48. Generation 48 – quite a thought.

Creating the sort of society and culture in which we wish that generation to grow will take time. Nothing can or will drop in our lap overnight. It is a generation-long task.

Who we can be will result from the choices we make every day – what we do in our actions. Words matter, of course, but what we actually do matters so much more. This county spends far too much time arguing with itself. It always has. Time to create and do.

Holloway has spent 65 years and more fighting poverty. One of his first acts on being ordained a priest was to organise a rent strike in the Gorbals, and nearly 60 years on he has just retired as chair of the Sistema charity which fights poverty using music.

In some of our hardest pressed communities it seeks to engage children in community through a local orchestra. He told me he would only know if it was successful in a generation, because it would be when the current Sistema kids had their own children, and by the lives they then had, that we could judge.

For me this is a perfect metaphor for the challenge facing Scotland now.

Words matter and Holloway has carved many beautiful ones. But actions matter more and focusing them on transforming the life chances of each generation matters most.

On that core truth those two wondrous octogenarian children of Possilpark completely agreed. Their lives, completely different but anchored in the same purpose and place.

In the coming weeks I hope to use this column to encourage more of the same.