Thursday, 9 August 2012
In Cassidy's Care: 16: Last Christmas (continued)
Cassidy was going to be an explorer when he grew up. For his 10th birthday he’d been gifted a copy of Jack London’s ‘Call of the Wild’, inscribed with the words “Remember Pete, all journeys lead to home. With much admiration, from one ‘Sailor on Horseback’ to another. Love Grandpa Bertie”. Bertrand Cassidy’s escapades were family legend. Born in 1900 he’d been a boy whaler and later a Merchant Marine, before settling on the Nantucket Sound in the early 1920s to pursue his passion for deep sea fishing. Here he met and married Molly Stevens and developed ‘BC’s’, a boat charter company, soon one of the biggest in Barnstable County. He built his beloved ‘Beach House’ with the fruits of that labour. In his later years, and to the family’s astonishment, he had revealed a long hidden talent to become ‘Yarmouth Yodeler of the Year’, a title that he proudly retained for four years straight before ill-fitting dentures compromised his art. Old BC still made guest appearances, and it was in preparation for the competition of ’89 that he had driven himself into town for a shave and a trim. Although still sprightly, his eyesight was poor and he hadn’t noticed an unmarked worker’s trench outside of Bob’s Barbershop. The fall broke a leg that would never properly heal. He hobbled around the house with a cane until he just seemed to lose patience with that shuffling decline and, in his 90th year, Bertrand Cassidy quietly passed away, on his porch, in the very chair that Harry, his son now gently rocked. Cassidy could still picture Grandpa Bertie sitting there, in a faded bleu de chine fisherman’s jacket, tipping his bright blue cap to his wife and gently singing “Molly, my Molly, she’s the only older lady whooo I love.”
Looking out past Chatham Lighthouse, beyond the elbow of the bay, Cassidy accepted that his journey had undeniably brought him home. But he was no ‘sailor on horseback’, no explorer. Cassidy cradled his coffee cup and chuckled at the thought of himself as an adventurer. Of all the people he knew he was probably the least prepared for uncharted territory. He only had to look at a city road map and he’d come out in a cold sweat. He was a home bird and the beach house, this mine of memories, offered safe harbour, shelter from those complications of London.