Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Yellow Ribbons

My friends' mother was cremated yesterday. Everyone is 'well-liked' when it comes to their funeral, but it was abundantly clear that Betty was really well-liked. It made for a moving occasion and a lot of old friends who had left the department showed up (Betty's children are similarly well-liked). Francisco, for instance, met up with me in town, before heading out. We were too early, getting out to Ballymun 40 minutes before the funeral mass. Well, it gave us a chance to have tea in the Ballymun Plaza, the site, as Stephen told me, of his old flat.
Years back when I lived a little in Chicago, my grand-aunt, May, died and I missed the funeral. I regretted that; I really liked her. For some reason, in the back of my mind, this felt a little like my funeral for May.
After the mass we went on to Glasnevin Cemetary for the cremation. Any of you who have been to the crematorium there, know it's a small building. It was crowded, with latecomers very noticeable pushing open the heavy wooden doors. At one point a mobile phone went off, but was quickly silenced. Then as the curtains closed on the coffin, another burst of music began. Another mobile phone? No. 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree'! As the priest strove to speak louder over the jaunty song, I thought a thousand things: the cd was accidentally switched on; they got the track wrong; there has to be some kind of mistake! But then it hit me differently. No, it wasn't a mistake, it was Betty's final choice. It was bizarre, but also bizarrely appropriate. Everything we had heard in the ceremony suggested she was a jovial sort, and this seemed right. It seems somehow wrong for a funeral to leave a smile on your face, but from another point of view it's probably far more right. I smiled. Poor tune though it may be, I'm beginning to think 'So Long (and Thanks for All the Fish)' might be a contender for my particular parting. Or else 'Road to Nowhere'. Or hell, just make it 'House of Fun'!


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