Keelen walked down the Irish road to the farmhouse overlooking the sea. He went inside.
“Where have you been?” his mother said. “Your father’s been asking for you.”
Keelen took off his gloves and put them in his coat pocket. He took off his coat and hung it on the wall rack inside the door. He went and held his palms open to the hearth.
“I was trying to find a priest,” he said. “For Last Rites.”
“Well, your father’s been asking for you,” his mother said.
Keelen looked around. “Where’s Shannon?” he asked.
“She’s gone down the road to the Druburys,” his mother said. “I told her to stay down there until we called for her. Mrs. Drubury came in the cart for her.”
“How is he, Momma?” he said.
“He’s very weak,” she said. “You didn’t find a priest?”
“No,” Keelen said. “I’m not sure what good they’d do anyway, but I tried to find one for him.”
“You watch your mouth,” his mother said. “The Holy Church looks over us.”
“The Holy Church does nothing,” Keelen said, “but cause misery.”
“Well, you’re a fine young man,” she said. “How far do you think you’ll get without the Church?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “But I aim to find out.”
“What does that mean?” she said.
“I’m going to America,” he said. “I’m not staying here any longer.”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” she said. “You’re staying here.”
“I’m going to Glasgow to get a job on a ship leaving for America,” he said. “I’m not staying here.”
His mother was quiet. She got up from her chair at the kitchen table and went to the hearth. She stirred the stew in the pot. She then pulled two chairs by the hearth.
“Sit down,” she said, sitting herself, and motioning to the other for Keelen. He pulled the chair back and sat down.
“Are you intent on going?” she asked.
“I am,” he said.
“And what about your sister?” she said.
“Maybe someday she can catch up,” he said. “And maybe you, too.”
“No,” she said. “I suspect I’ll die here in Ireland. I want to be buried close to your father. He took me in when nobody else would, when I was pregnant with you. I know you know about that.”
“I do,” he said. “I heard things now and then, but it doesn’t matter. He was a father to me and I’ll always love him.”
She leaned over and held his head in her hands and kissed his forehead. “You’re a good son,” she said. “If you want to go to America, I won’t try to stop you.”
It was quiet in the other room and she got up and left the kitchen area. She came back and said, “Your father’s passed away. I’d better go get the Constable. I’ll be back, and we need to begin preparing for the wake.”
She left and Keelen went into the bedroom where his father lay. His mother had pulled the blanket up over his head. Keelen went and stood by the bed. He said the Hail Mary three times and went back and sat by the fire.