The Linnet's Wings :Take All My Loves, My Love - Page 84

The Linnet´s Wings But others made the trip for him. On our honeymoon in 1973, my wife Beth and I visited at Elphin and the cottage where John Igoe was born, where I saw the star peep through the thatch roof and call his name, and where lived my mother’s last two living first cousins, Peter and Joseph Cassidy, since gone. My mother, with four daughters, was able to get over and visit there in 1987. And in September of 2003, our children sent us back for our 30th anniversary. The eyes are so pleased at times that the heart sees. I told them the following happened on our trip: One Monday noon I stood in an Elphin, Roscommon pub, a Guinness pint in hand, and said aloud to the dozen men at the bar, “Gentlemen, do any of you remember Peter and Joseph Cassidy who 30 years ago, when we were here on our honeymoon, lived outside of town near the statue to The Rising. They were well into their 70s then and long gone now, but I’d like to know if anybody remembers them.” All hell broke loose at the bar, eyes twinkled, smiles came galore, and one man leaped off his stool. “Eddie the Fiddler!” he yelled. “If Peter and Joseph were relatives of yours, Eddie the Fiddler is.” He yelled to the barkeep, “Dermot, get Eddie on the phone!” Twenty minutes later I thought my grandfather Johnny Igoe was walking through the door. It was a cousin of mine, Eddie Cassidy, in his sixties, I had never met and had not known about. We had a ball! It was a great trip and Johnny Igoe was with us every step of the way. He had bent his back in Pennsylvania’s and Illinois’ mines and swung a hammer north of Bos- ton, poled his star-lit way down the Erie Canal, and died in bed. His years are still with me in the wind he breathed and storms he stood against and earth he pounded with his fist to fill the mouths of his children and my mother. When he was lonely he was hurt and sometimes feared the pain he could not feel because he knew it and knew how it came. He said a man had to think hard and often to be wise and nothing was useless to man: not a sliver of wood because it makes a toothpick; not a piece of glass broken from a wine-red bottle because it catches sun and makes wonder. Nei- ther a stray stone nor brick were useless because they were wedges or wall-parts or corners like one, the first or the last, put to the foundation of the old gray house that clings to the light and had wide windows and doors that were never locked. On snow-bound mornings he laughed with us when daylight sought us eagerly and in cricket nights of softness that spoiled kneeling prayers. Sometimes his soft eyes were sad while we laughed. We didn’t know about the man down the street or the boy who died racing black-horse train against young odds. His prayers were not an interlude with God: they were as sacred as breathing, as vital as the word. And the politicians never got his vote because he knew the pain they intend- ed and he hated hurt. Hated hurt. The floorboards creaked beneath him in the mornings and he brought warmth into chilled rooms and his coffee slipped its aroma between secret walls to waken us. The oats were heavy and creamed in large white bowls, and “Go easy on the sugar” was the bugle call of dawn. His books had a message that he heard, alone, quiet, singing with the life he 84