Wake at Birr

The true and humorous tale, though shocking at the time, of the fiasco of my mothers coffin, at her wake in Birr…

As was tradition, to her home brought
First night alone, for family alone saught
Second night was open, to all to pay respect
That was our tradition, what we deemed correct.
The third night to the chapel, to the house of God
The fourth to join her husband beneath the sod…

First night family the coffin gathered round
Decades of the rosary given out in turn, mumbled chorus resound
Someone scratched at a handle, is seemed odd, looked tarnished
Inspected the coffin, the rest appeared well and varnished
Till almost all along with one said the handles were green
The wash was washed off, its likes before on a coffin not seen
How could this happen, were they over reacting, what would all do?
We will get new handles from the undertaker, it was decided over a brew.

Its a simple job with a screwdriver, all inspecting reasoned
The undertaker was a sensible sort, many years seasoned
Unwelcome, unexpected, this was, but not a big deal
Were sure she’s looking down laughing, one their thoughts did reveal.

The undertaker next morning on the phone was all apologies
Gave the corpses embalming and preparation chronologies
Seems the coffin she was taken from the home to be embalmed
Was not the one she was to be buried in, he said, our worries calmed.
He will be by later on, the guaranteed, and all will be well
This will be a funny story someday, we joked to each other, for all to tell.

He came later on, as true as his word, much later in fact,
What he brought caused all there in surprise to react:
Not a new set of handles he brought, but a whole new coffin:
Now there is a scene not seen around too often!

The neighbours came running to the house to help in fright
Thinking a SECOND person had died during the night
As the friends started arriving, they had to be to the kitchen deflected
As our options to move the corpse by the undertaker was inspected.
Just to change the handles with a screwdriver the suggestion was made
Dismissed with a wave of the hand: to help a few they were bade
And so lifted she was, from one coffin to the other
Not just one coffin would be good enough, we joked, for our mother!

The screwdriver came out for the lid on the floor
As the nameplate was screwed off to be screwed on once more
Along with the crucifix onto the second lid…
Swiftly,and as if this was normal, farewell till later was bid
By the undertaker who the first coffin loaded calmly and drove away
Bemused we admitted the neighbours around the corpse for to pray.

If it was seen on television one would say it stretched reality:
But we would expect nothing less from us: our weird family!

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