Thursday, October 30, 2014

Secret chord

They're on their way to Sweden as I type, my father and my uncle, to make the arrangements.

Their younger brother, The Musician, died early on Tuesday morning.

Back in early 2011 the three of us travelled over to see him, to catch some of his life and to celebrate his 60th birthday in the city of Stockholm where he'd spent most of his adult life.

The most gentle soul that I've ever met, we often mistook his solitude over there for loneliness but we've learned very different things since he got sick earlier this year. So many people cared for him, cared about him, so many friends who looked over him as the badness took hold of his body.

He slipped off quickly, in his sleep, like my grandfather.

Last night we talked about him, toasted him, storied him, and I asked my dad if I could post something about him here as a tribute. I'd never presume, but he wanted it, and opened his luggage to show me four printed copies of this piece I'd written three and a half years ago.

For my uncle Kieran, The Musician, we miss you...

...

February 2011

He greeted us at the central bus station in Stockholm, this man that none of us had seen in fourteen years. My father's younger brother, my uncle, The Musician. Rounder of belly than before and still with that beard and long and greying hair, he didn't look the sixty years he would become at midnight.

It was a spartan hotel, with no lift to our third floor room. Two single beds and one that pulled out from a couch, my second uncle was waiting for us when we returned with a few cans. The four of us supped Swedish beer and chatted but the hour was late, I'd been ill and people were tired. We agreed to meet The Musician the following morning at 10.30 and he'd show us his Stockholm.

So it passed. We walked for what seemed like miles as he pointed out the school where he'd worked, the places he'd played, the people he knew, the landmarks we'd read about. We took an early pint and some lunch before heading back to his flat in the centre of the city, not far from our hotel.

Whiskey poured, he told us stories of his days in Paris and Stockholm. Meeting Sean Connery and Claudia Cardinale, George Best and his other footballing heroes. Walking empty streets on his 40th birthday, twenty years ago to the day. Fending off Arab youths who had tried to steal his guitar. Missing a trial with Arsenal. Strumming and picking and drinking and smoking.

He showed a phenomenal memory for a man who'd met with such trouble, a singer who treated every bit of tumult with remarkable serenity. He could tell me in great detail about the time he sang for me and my sister in the back bedroom, when we were tiny and bold.

I really took to him, all over again. This disappeared uncle who, through all the reminiscing, matched me factoid for factoid on the transfer window lunacy.

The next day, I let them off on their own.

They took a ferry; I read my book; they visited a museum; I went for a walk; they took a jar; I sat with a coffee watching a different city going past; they came back, and we headed back out for the last night of catching up before a 4am start and the trip back to Dublin, back to her grasp, back to the impression that I may have dreamt the whole thing up.

Leaving him behind was tougher than I could have imagined, but it won't be left another fourteen years.

3 comments:

caninemarathoner said...

Sorry to hear this news my friend; I remember reading the original piece with admiration. Condolences. AG.

Radge said...

Many, many thanks.

Holemaster said...

I remember reading that Radge. Reminded me of a friend's uncle who drove a Citroen DS into a French police station after a few too many Armagnacs. Don't know why, exotic Uncles afar perhaps.

May he rest with the same peace as he had on earth.