Just when all of us could use a belly laugh, the late Shay Bradley, of Ireland, decided a year before his death to put the “fun” in funeral.
While most of us have certainly attended “Celebrations of Life,” which can be both a poignant and an uplifting way to say goodbye to our loved ones, Shay, reported by his family as “always the prankster,” cheekily put together a plan that would leave all mourners at his funeral in tears of laughter instead of grief.
I mean, people, there are wakes, and then there was Shay’s wake.
Shay, a veteran of Ireland’s military and a beloved father of four and a grandfather of eight, suspecting that his three year battle with throat cancer would eventually claim his life, was determined to prank his friends and family one last time. Reports state that his partner in crime was his son Jonathan, who secretly recorded his father’s last message a year before his death.
And so as mourners clustered in a brisk wind at the grave site and the Dubliner’s coffin was lowered into the ground, there was suddenly the sound of bagpipes filling the air followed by the sound of loud knocking.
“Hello? Hello? Let me out! Where am I?” they heard Shay’s voice bellow. “Let me out! It’s dark in here, let me out! Is that the priest I hear?”
Jonathan had switched on the recording, which at first stunned those in attendance before erupting into laughter, particularly as, er, “spicier” comments were heard as if coming directly from the coffin.
His daughter Andrea, one of four children, was reported as explaining. “He was an absolutely incredible man. And knowing how much this video has made so many people laugh gives us all great comfort and happiness in our darkest days. It’s truly brightened all our hearts.”
The recording, which, of course, has gone viral on YouTube, ended with Shay breaking into song, singing “Hello again, hello … hello, I just called to say goodbye."
Shay’s on-line obituary informed readers that he passed peacefully in the arms of his wife, Anne. And it appears that it was his love for her that originally inspired his idea.
Andrea went on to explain. “He told my brother Jonathan, who recorded the audio with him, that one of the main reasons he done this was because he wanted to make sure my mom would be laughing leaving the cemetery, not crying. And he done just that.”
Here in the South, Andrea, we’d also say “he done good.” In fact, real good.
Well done, Shay. May you chuckle in peace.