Yet another anniversary of my little brother's death who was taken from us so early. Sadness stains everything and loneliness bites to the bone.
The best thing I can say about myself is that I am. . . BRIAN DEMPSEY'S BROTHER
*** He was chopping wood and I was gathering turf when I had to remark on a little heap of stones: "Ha look at that Bud...ya would swear blind someone had built them up!" And he said: "Yeah...I did!" It looked both natural and at the same time had an arrangement ya wouldn't find in nature. Bud said: "Ya know when ya told me that there is always a little collection of stones placed in some pattern on French graves....well, when I am working I just take a stone from here and there over a period of time and let it build into whatever shape it wants to be. I call it a monument to the moment and I build them ever since Mam died. I take bits and bobs from the landscape and build them to touch the sky in their own little way to talk to her...to somehow reach her in this little simple act. People either notice or they don't...or walk through them and I just build another and another in time time after time.
I do this now for him...my little brother and for my Da. But I also build a cairn of words placing one on top of another and let them find their own way and their own balance. So if you are ever passing Dempseys and see a little clump of stones stolen from the landscape to talk to the sky then ya know who they are talking to.
With such little things does one try to fight off the immense sorrow and loneliness.
Words and stones...stones and words...both are never enough...never enough
I love my brother. It is impossible to talk about my brother in the past tense. Brian always just "is." He is a lovely lovely man and not even death can alter that. My father is the most loving gentle soul I have ever known. I could never be the man my father is but....Brian could. Brian is cut from the same measure of cloth as my Dad. He is truly his father's son. The greatest gift a loving father can have is a loving son. Brian's mantra was always: "I am looking after my father!" He was about to take early retirement to look after his father full time. Us Dempseys are always laughing( although you wouldn't believe it today )laughing...at old photos of the Da when he is a young man....he looks so much like Brian. It's almost impossible to tell them apart. They are like clones...peas in a pod. The same auld big head on him....the same tousle of curls and that self same shy gentle smile. If my mother were looking through photos we would know when she got to a Brian photo because she would beam and say over and over again: " Ahhhhh Jaysus....it's the little fellow....ahhhhh jaysus!" We used to place the Brian photo so that we would know when it would turn up and just as she got to it we would all do her "Ahhh jaysus....it's the little fella....ahhh jaysus!" Well the little fella grew up to be Little Bud as I was Big Bud but as he grew in stature and build he became Big Bud and I....just Bud. If ya heard us talking it would be: "Ya ok Bud....yeah Bud....ya wanna cup of tea bud....are ya ready Bud." We would be Budding along to our heart's content. My little nephew who was now to become Little Brian and a great Irish speaker at 5...looked at us in disbelief and asked us why we always called each other *****? Bud apparently being the Irish for the male *****. After this piece of info was given to us we would stumble over the Bud bit but we got over it and I would address letters to Bud the Brian or Brian the Bud. It was always Bud! and always "Are ya alright...Bud?" Like father like son they share the same mental and emotional landscape. They have the wonderful ability to love with such devotion and care...a pure strong steady love that protects you against anything the world could throw against you. The world can do without a Donall but the world could not do without a Brian....he was the vital spark in our family...the calm hand on the tiller that would weather any storm. His loss is immense...our grief so intense....the pain unbearable and yet... we have to bear it. The last thing he ever said to me was...Hamlet's TO BE OR NOT TO BE. Not just the first couple of lines but the whole soliloquy! When he came over to me in the London of the early 90's he was confronted with me struggling with Hamlet struggling with his fictional fate. He asked me what the speech meant and of course I explained it for an hour. He had the ability to soak up by some emotional osmosis the knowledge of whatever discipline he encountered. He was telling me that at work they were debating some electrical technicality that was beyond my ken to even understand and they asked his opinion and he slowly and in his best deadpan said...the whole of to be or not to be! The other thing that he picked up from my student days was Eliot's THE WASTELAND. He had come over looking for work but London was no better and after two months he returned to Ireland. Things were still no better and when I asked him in April how were things...he answered in best Eliot and in Eliot's vicar-ish voice: "April is the cruelest month ...for electricians...breeding despair out of there being no work!" He could always turn his hand to something...whether it was handymanning about the home or pilfering literary gems for his own use. The best thing I can say about myself is that I am Brian Dempsey's brother. I hope to become more like him. Brian is and will never cease to be a lovely lovely man. A gentleman and a gentle man. I love him Not even death can alter that.