He was dead! My irascible, strong and loyal but sometimes unkind uncle; he had been the last of my living relatives.
I remembered his bushy eyebrows waggling at me while he talked; the sweet smile in his craggy face even while saying the most cutting things.
His death had been quick. I remembered him as being always busy. He had ignored his health especially when it had begun to fail after his last trip abroad until it finally stopped him in his tracks.
The last few words he said before he slipped into a coma stayed with me. They meant nothing to me. I wondered what they had meant to him or if they had been the nonsense words of a sick old man.
It was a bright and sunny day for a funeral.
My mood however was sombre from days spent sorting and cleaning my uncle’s house. His final words like a drum beat in my head had accompanied my days as I moved from room to room through the detritus of a lifetime. Those words stayed with me now. They turned over and over in my head as my brain tried to puzzle them out. As if understanding their meaning would give me some measure of peace and comfort.
The attendance at the chapel surprised me. The small room was full. It was obvious to me that I had not known the extent of my uncle’s circle of acquaintances. At the hospital I had been the only visitor or so I thought.
The service was brief. No eulogy was offered. According to his lawyer, my uncle’s wishes had been quite specific.
And still the words rattled around my head.
At the graveside, I had a better chance to look at the people who had come to the funeral. They were all old men. All dressed in beautiful suits with a blue poppy in their lapels.
The coffin was lowered into the ground. One by one the old men removed their blue poppy and dropped it onto the coffin. Then they approached me shaking my hand and offering their condolences.
The last of gentlemen approached me, leaned in to me and handed me a blue poppy and whispered, “Welcome to the BOOB! We are the Brethren Of Old Bastards!”