The great Winston Churchill once said, you have nothing to fear but fear itself. And Margaret Kelly was a woman of no fear

That was Roosevelt, you feckin overweight idiot – my Dad mumbled.

Father Gaffy wasn’t the best at history and his quotes were notorious. He once mixed up Gandi with Genghis Khan. Luckily, there isn’t a lot of Mongolians in rural Ireland so only the very clever ones noted that one. He was affectionately known as Gaffy Duck around the village. But this was never something you said directly to his face.

Margaret was a gentle soul. A quiet soul. A light soul. And God will have no trouble carrying her on angel’s wings to the kingdom of heaven

Did Father Gaffy ever meet Aunt Margaret – I asked

No. I don’t think so. But sure, her regular priest can’t be found. As soon as Covid landed he went into hiding.

Flight of the bloody priests. Where are they when you bloody need them? – said a voice from behind me.

Ah Robert. Good man. I haven’t seen you in ages – Dad shouted.

I’ve been in a coconut

What?

I rolled my eyes. He means he’s been Cocooning. Robert, personal space! I can feel you breathing on me.

Robert and Aunt Margaret had only one thing in common. They loved funerals and they always knew when they were on. They studied just enough about the deceased person so they could confidently attend. The major difference was Margaret made the sandwiches and handed them to everyone and awaited compliments. Robert only ate them.

Where’s your wife? – Robert asked my Dad.

Mam is inside. She’s in there with my brother and my aunt. – I replied

Only three is it?

Three?

Only three people allowed inside?

No. Five. Dad wanted a cigar.

Jesus, Robert, I’ve been dying for a smoke the past 2 weeks. And this is the only time she’s been away from me.

I hope when he said ‘she’, he meant Mam and not Aunt Margaret. Dad only smoked on special occasions like funerals, weddings and births. Apparently, back in 1987, he was so happy when I, a boy, was born, that he lit up a cigar in the middle of the maternity ward.

Margaret’s funeral was not what she deserved. It was just us. My Dad and I huddled behind a tree outside the church. And my Mother and Aunt, and brother were inside. We could hear the priest on speaker phone. My brother called us on Whatsapp and just put the phone on the seat beside him. Fun fact about our village – the signal is only good in and around the church. Some say, it’s divine miracle. Others think Gaffy Duck has a secret signal booster. We’ll never know.

There’s more up in the graveyard. – said Robert

More what? – I asked

People

Oh, she won’t like that. Margaret never liked a fuss – Dad replied

Aunt Margaret was the definition of fuss. She once told me she wanted to be cremented and scattered at Buckingham Palace. She was obsessed with Princess Margaret and was convinced they’d be good friends. Sadly, she’d have to settle for the local graveyard.

It is a beautiful graveyard, if you like graveyards, you should come to my village and check it out. I love graveyards. Graveyards are great. It’s like history, a museum and a park all in one. Also how cool is it, that there are so many stories all in one place. I love graveyards. Sorry. That was a tangent.

Robert we not allowed gatherings. – I said.

Or drinking, but I’ve put cans beside the headstones

WHAT! – I exclaimed.

Great. I’d love a Guinness.

We have Guinness. I think it’s behind the Derry’s headstone.

Just take a moment there. If you need to read that back to yourself, that’s OK. I’ll wait.

………………………………………………………………..

Yes. Robert organised a gathering of people in the graveyard. With each person standing 2 metres away and alcohol hidden in plastic bags behind the headstones. This was in the unlikely event that a police car went by.

I don’t get. I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now. But that’s not to say, it didn’t happen. There’s lots of things that happen that I don’t get. 

Oh brilliant. Just like old times, hiding the beer in the graveyard to you remember we used to…

What does that have to do with Aunt Margaret? – I asked

We had no wake. We should do something. It’s perfectly safe and we all keep a distance, – Dad explained.

Drinking in the graveyard?

We are doing all the funeral traditions. We are just not doing them in different locations. The wake, the service, the burying, the mourning. It’s all just happening the same place now – Robert interjected

Fuck you, Robert. You just want to get drunk

Language son!

It’s a stressful time, lad, Robert continued, Look, if you can’t go to the restaurant, you just get the starter and the main course and the dessert and put it all on one plate. And eat it. It’s better than starving.

WHAT!

Just as I was about to yell at him, we caught the sound of the phone.

“She lived her life, like a candle in the wind. And as the great Princess Diana once said, I came, I saw, I conquered.  Go in peace to love and to serve the Lord. Amen.

Did Diana really say that? – Robert asked.

No. Gaffy Duck hasn’t a clue what he’s saying. Did you hear they took his driving licence off him, – my Dad replied

As my rest of family came out, we crossed the road to the graveyard and put Aunt Margaret in the ground. I don’t think anyone cried. It was all so surreal. There have been many tears since and even some tears today. But I think I’m right in saying, there were none on that day.

Perhaps her greatest achievement, was her ability to set up an insult.

You were blessed with Father’s good looks

Oh. Thanks Aunt Margaret

When you were a child. I don’t know what happened to during puberty. But something went wrong.

Ahh Margaret. She was the greatest source of inspiration.

A few weeks after the funeral, my Mother had completed most of the paperwork. Death certificate, life assurance, etc. I don’t know the other stuff. What else do you need to complete or do? I don’t have anything important. When I die, my computer and phone should be destroyed and there’s a can of coke in my wardrobe that someone can have.

The final thing to deal with, was the will. Yes, at the end of every tragic death story comes the will. A happy ending after the sad passing of the lovely character. After the sadness of losing Aunt Margaret, and the fact that she was a home owner and her only son didn’t speak to her, you can obviously see where this is going. We were her only family and she loved us. Even though she insulted us all the time.

Don’t think of me as a bad person. I wasn’t thinking, oh thank God she’s gone and I can get an Iphone 10 now. Is it 10 or 11? I don’t know what the new one is. But you get my point. Having lost my job and being stuck at home, a little money would go a long way.

Fuck.

A heard my Mother scream from the kitchen. I should have ran out immediately, Mam never swears but I was in the middle of Judge Judy.

Fuck. Who the fuck is Barry Brian? That bastard.

Her voice grew louder, so I had to put Judy on pause. That is something, I never do.

What’s wrong?

Margaret left us nothing. NOTHING. And we paid for her headstone. She left all her money to a man called Barry Brian.

Sounds like a paedo magicians name, doesn’t it. He ended up being quite the prick. But he’s for another day.

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