Connor smiled as he watched Karen, walk up to the stage. She purposely averted her glance from the long wooden rectangular box in the corner and slowly made her way towards the microphone where she carefully unfolded a square sheet of paper. “She looks a tad tensed” thought Connor as he moved away from the crowd and stood in a corner. Back on the stage, Karen was adjusting the mic to the correct height. Connor smiled again. Karen's OCD meant that she needed everything in a particular way. And if it wasn’t, she wouldn't be able to move on until it was set that way. As she fiddled with the mic on stage, Connor looked around from his vantage point. Karen's husband, David, was seated in the second row, with little Daisy beside him in her pram. Though barely a year old, Connor loved to spend time with Daisy. Her little toothless smile had frequently cheered him up when he was really down. And David, her husband was an amazing person too. Friendly and soft-spoken could be the words best used to describe David. Though it had been almost 5 years since David’s and Karen's wedding, Connor still remembered the day as if it had been yesterday. The beautiful countryside, the brilliant warm sun, the amazing food, gorgeous Karen in her flowing white wedding dress, and David in his quite un-traditional white suit all set the stage for the perfect fairy tale wedding. Father Monahan, who had presided over the ceremony then, was now standing next to Karen on the stage, whispering something in her ear. Connor looked around the church. There were lots of people who looked vaguely familiar; but strangely enough he wasn’t able to actually pin-point when or if he’d met them. “Well, it’s nice of them to come anyway” he thought. A sudden screeching noise from the microphone brought his attention back to the stage. Karen was getting ready to speak. And he had promised he would listen.
Karen cleared her throat and leaned towards the microphone. “Thank you all, for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here today. My brother would have really appreciated this gesture. Forgive me, I’m not really sure how or where to start. Though my brother and I have always been close, it was our mother’s death that really brought us together. I was still a little girl when she passed away, and our father was in the hospital recuperating from a heart surgery. I still remember how I collapsed into his arms when he told me about the accident. Since then my brother has not just been my sibling, but also my guardian and best friend - quite simply, the one that I turned to for everything. He’s been my pillar of strength whenever I went through any downs in life, be it cheating boyfriends or chauvinistic bosses. He’s also been my ardent fan and biggest supporter. He’s been to every one of my music recitals, basketball games, and even chaperoned a bunch of us for our prom date. And as a friend, the fact that you’ve all come here today to pay your respects, even though some of you may have only met him a couple of times, speaks volumes about how he treated people. He was…..just….” Karen sniffled and wiped her eyes that were now filled with tears. Father Monahan whispered something in her ear again, and lightly patted her shoulder.
“I’m sorry!” she continued, her usually pleasant voice now sounded melancholy from the medley of emotions going through her. “As some of you know, over the past few months, since his return from South America, my brother had been plagued by illness. What was initially diagnosed to be an acute case of Dengue, soon turned into something severe. Though there was a brief period of respite from the the illness, it soon reappeared, drowning all our hopes for him. My brother was someone, who always believed that when he exited this world, it would be after he achieved a lot of things. Though his demise was untimely at just 38, I believe he left this earthly abode having achieved most of the things that he’d wanted to. And with that, I’d like to play a video that he recorded shortly before his death.”
Karen took a sip of water from the glass that Father Monahan had placed on the table beside her. Father Monahan signalled for the lights to be dimmed and the screen to be lowered so that the video would be visible. On the screen appeared the faint image of a visibly weakened-man, with a scruffy beard and wavy hair. With a smile he gradually started to speak:
“Thank you all for gracing this auspicious occasion. Ok, who am I kidding? It’s a sombre event and you’re here to pay your respects to this dead man. Jokes aside, I must have done something right in my life, since you’re all here. So, yes, please kindly accept my gratitude, even if it is from beyond the grave, so to speak.
I know its out of the norm for someone to record their own eulogy. But I had to give my own versions of things as they appeared to be. My sweet sister Karen...bless her.... would have by now already delivered her own emotional version of how I was this “caring, amazing brother who was there through thick and thin for her”. Probably because I’m a little bit of a narcissist at heart, and because I really do care about her, I did not want Father Monahan to play this video, until she had give her version first. So thank you Father Monahan. I hope you managed to deliver this video in a timely fashion.
So keeping that in mind, let’s dwell on this : A eulogy is just a speech written in praise of someone who has passed away recently, isn’t it? No, I’m not going to give you a Philosophy or an English lesson. I just want to make my reason for doing this clear before we go ahead. Most people write their eulogy with a view of making sure that they achieve their goals before they leave their mortal bodies. Unfortunately for me, I may only have weeks or days, before I’m called and so I’d say its a bit too late to actually write my own eulogy. But as with everything I’ve done in my life, I believe in being honest. And hence I would like to say what I think I need to be remembered for.
Over the course of my life, I’ve had my share of challenges. Yes, we’ve all had them, but let’s make this about me now. I’m dead after all. From my mother passing away when I was just ten, to having to take care of my little sister and my amazing, but not-so-physically-strong dad. No, don’t give me any pity. That was just the luck of the game called life. And I don’t regret for once having been born into this family. My mother, whilst she was there, has given me more than enough love to last my whole life time. Well, I don’t expect to cross 40, so anyway enough for 40 years….smile will you, if a dying man makes a joke, you are expected to laugh.
My father, though he too has been physically unwell post his cardiac arrest, has always been my biggest source of strength. He’s not a man of many words but he’s always there when you need him. It’s because of him, that I am what I am today ..or rather was by the time you see this. And as for my sister Karen, she’s really a sweetheart. She’s lucky to have found David who has promised to love her till death do them apart. And may even that death not be successful in parting you. And as for Daisy, I love her to bits and do remember to tell her that I will be looking down ..or up, depending on where I’m headed... on / to her.
Ok, that’s enough about you guys. This is my eulogy isn’t it? Ok, so as I was saying, I’m not this “gem-of-a-character” kind of person, that everyone has been describing me as. I believe that I’ve been a not-so-bad son, a good brother and a decent human being. But I’m human after all. Starting from my early childhood I’ve had my share of vagabond and rebel moments, where I’ve never been satisfied with what was going on. Be it when father got me that remote controlled car, which I was determined to open up to find out what was going on, or that Mony, the inflatable punching doll, that I quite literally punched the life out of. Though I was an average student at school, I believe most of my education was more…let’s say... practical in nature. I’ve always been someone who has looked for solutions.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work in a number of different capacities in a number of different organisations. Though in retrospect, I was often always either over or under qualified for these roles. So I must have really been someone who “interviewed well”. Or they were just desperate. Being an optimist ...yes, I will be one till my dying day.., I’m going to go with the “interviewed well” option. However it’s this “looking for a solution” nature that made me decide that I wanted to make a difference to the world. And I decided to start with helping the almost-extinct tribes of the Amazonian Basin, which as my experiences have demonstrated, isn’t really the best place to start helping. Well, unless you are looking to die. In which case, you’re pretty much in the perfect place. I kid of course. The Amazon Basin is a wonderful place. But in my case, it was just bad luck, and mosquitoes.
There are some ways in which fate has been kind to me. Though I’ve been in a few “relationships” ...if you can call them that, I’ve been fortunate enough not to have been tied down by anyone. I say fortunate, not because I have an incessant need to be a playboy, but merely because with my short life span, it would have just been messy. So I suppose I’m thankful for that. If any of my previous girl friends are present here today, I would just like to say - thank you, for not pursuing me. I would have been a really bad investment to make.
To sign off ... forgive the pun…., I just want to take this opportunity to once again thank you all for being here. Irrespective of how long you’ve known me, you would have known this - I believe in happiness. I know death is not a celebration. But for once, I’d like to request that you try and remember the good times you’ve had with me and keep that memory of me alive. With that, I will take your leave.
Oh, make sure you go down to The White Knight pub, by the river, to enjoy a pint of beer on me. James Finnigan, the pub owner has an open tab in my name. See, I told you I knew how to make you guys smile and happy.
Curtains please, Father Monahan. It's time.”
As the video zoomed in to a picture of Karen’s late brother from a time when he was hail and hearty, she slowly walked back towards the stage along with an elderly gentleman, with neatly trimmed white beard and smartly combed hair. Connor watched as the pensioner slowly climbed up the stairs leading to the stage, using his walking stick for support. As the crowd of friends, family and well wishers slowly made their way over to the open, rectangular coffin by the side of the stage, Connor noticed the elderly gentleman slowly pull out a handkerchief from his jacket and wipe his eyes. After a few minutes, when the crowd had disappeared, the aged man walked over to the open casket. Connor silently moved closer towards the coffin. Though he couldn’t see the man’s face any longer, he seemed to be lost deep in thought.
In a subdued voice, the old man said “Good bye my son. Rest in peace!”
Connor smiled. “Good bye Dad”, he whispered back.