We buried my Uncle yesterday. He was 48. Christy, or “Mono” as he was nicknamed, was the youngest among his brothers and sister. He died on Sunday, quite suddenly.
I got the phone call Sunday night from my cousin in England. He thought I had already heard. I hadn’t and I didn’t believe him at first. Mono is 48. You don’t just die suddenly at 48? At least, it could never happen to those close to you? It did and just had.
The family was devastated. I was trying to take it all in and it was difficult to process. I needed to get out of the house so I met a friend in the pub but in my mind I was thinking of when I saw Mono last, the last thing I said to him on the phone recently. I should have done this or that. It all just races by.
I arrived in his hometown for the funeral and I was blown away by the amount of people in the church. Hundreds. He’s from a small town and its strange how you see people you know and then people you don’t. But Mono had touched the lives of everyone there. Some more than others, he had spent over 10 years with the Coast Guard.
The priest did his thing but lets be honest, it’s a fruitless task. He only comments on what he is told, he probably never met Mono. At the end of the ceremony my mother got up to say a few words and she delivered a heartfelt message that reached out to everyone in the church. We left the church to sounds of Mono’s favourite Bob Dylan song.
I hate funerals. We all do. Its the awkwardness at it that makes it near impossible to handle. I always find the burial in the graveyard the most surreal part of it. Unless you are right beside the priest you can’t hear him that well so you’re left with just your thoughts and reminded of the fragility of it all. I stood behind a couple in their 40’s that I had never met before. I watched as the wife did her best to hold back the tears as the ceremony went on, only to see her eventually breakdown.
And then there’s Mono’s daughter. She’s 10. How does a child process the loss of a parent? She’ll never have the experience of telling her father about the first time she falls in love or never be able to ask him for guidance when she goes through the trials of life. Very sad and unfair.
Mono earned the nickname after the character of Manolito Montoya form the Western TV show, High Chaparral. The name stuck as they both shared the same fringe at the time. I have fond memories of Mono from growing up. He was always the hyper Uncle. He would play football with my brother and I for hours, never tiring. He was a top player for the local team and loved the sport. He used to make us tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. I hated them but my brother still eats them! I’ll always remember the time when as a child, Mono started listening to Christy Moore. One day he had the song Lisdoonvarna stuck in his head and wouldn’t stop singing it. Except everytime he started singing it, he kept ticking my chin. Its funny the things we remember from our childhood.
Sitting in the pub after the ceremony I was able to catch up with friends and family, some I hadn’t seen in a long time. I watched grown men who have probably never hugged another man embrace family and loved ones with tears in their eyes. Many “Mono stories” were swapped and one friend, Neil, told the tale of when he recorded a tape for Mono and wrote on it “Recorded In Stereo For Mono”. Another memory for our early days that sticks in our minds!
I realise that this blog post is indulgent and meaningless to others. Death is a part of life. We are all pushed through the motions of what to do and how to act. From the section in your employment contract telling you how much time you are entitled to when there is a family bereavement, to the etiquette and procedure of the day of the funeral. Its all shite really. Nowhere tells you how to handle how you feel.
So this is my goodbye to Mono. I forgive ya for lashing me out of it with a tennis ball that day! I’ll see ya later horse.