Many years ago, before I was a wee singing fella, I was a wee piper fella.
I have always loved the sound of, and the playing of the pipes, and only recently played a tune, with great difficulty, (after a gap of nigh on twenty years!) at a gig.
As that wee piping enigma I had been chosen to represent our band at the funeral of the President of the Munster branch of the pipe band association in Cork City and three other members of my band came with me to pay our respects. We also brought a rather large funeral wreath which I had agreed to place on the coffin at the altar.
We arrived at the church and, it seemed, just in time as the priests were about to enter.
The four of us, with me in front carrying the floral monstrosity, raced ahead of the clergy to lay the wreath at the altar before the funeral mass began.
As I was nearing the altar I noticed the large framed photo of the deceased, frail looking old LADY on top of the coffin.
Now, last time we had met him, the President of the Munster branch of the pipe band association was a rather large, rotund and balding MAN!
We were an hour early and at the wrong funeral.
I still cringe when I recall the faces of the congregation as we walked back down the aisle, past the incoming clergy, and I still carrying the biggest funeral wreath this side of the Shannon!
I think a memo must have gone around in the priestly circles, I still get strange looks from clergy if I get too close to the flowers at funerals!
I have to share this story I just came across.
As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the back country. As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.
I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.
And as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”
Apparently, I’m still lost… It’s a man thing.