It was so damn petty that not one person in the entire family really knew how or where or when the rift began. It was there just as suddenly as the January thaw, being felt, being known, but still in all somewhat unbelievable. And every one of us, to the last thinking one of us, looked to Grandfather John Templemore to perform the cure, re-forge family ties, focus attention to proper matters. Hadn’t that man accomplished, so many times, the near impossible? The wizened little man with the piercing blue eyes that could accost you or lay balm on your wounds. The white-bearded sage who reveled in poetry and masters of the language. The articulate stone mason, his trowel now put away, who knew Yeats better than the classicists. Saturday evenings, on his wide porch fronting on the town, or deep in the pocket of his kitchen, the fire at amble, he it was who took us spellbound into the magic of joy, crowding us with the language.
My grandfather Johnny Igoe was a little Irish man. He stood a mere 5’ 6” but was a giant to me when his poetic voice rolled across the lamp-lit porch floor. He always wore a felt hat, a white beard, and often a pair of bicycle clips on his pant legs in the later years so he wouldn’t trip himself. His blue eyes were excavations, deep, and musical, caught up in other places you could tell, places where poems rang or memories, old names, old faces, the geography of mankind. They held places he had left and feared he’d never to get back to. Each of his canes knew the back of your knees, the rump, in a grab at attention. Older townsfolk, walking by, talked to him at the open kitchen window, the curl of pipe smoke rising between them, while grandma was at her oven, her room full of breads and sweets.