Tackas stood out front
The congregation watching
He shuffled his papers
Nerves on show
Opened his mouth
In his most beautiful lilting Irish voice be began.
We listened enthralled by Tackas’ story.
Rory his mate lay before us
His coffin draped with his footy teams jumper and a can of his favourite beer.
His mum in the front row
Staring into the past
Remembering a boy who played under the house
Who cared for lost lizards he found in the yard
Who at school struggled with words
But excelled with his hands
Who became a carpenter
Built her a house,
Was the perfect son in many ways.
Tackas tale was a little different,
Rory was a lad, one of the boys.
He drank and partied
Stayed out late and had various affairs.
One row of the church was taken by
Girlfriends past and present
His latest evident by the bulge in her belly.
The boys were gathered in the third pew
Uncomfortable in their suits and ties
The thought of the wake much on their minds.
Still Tackas held us, his words spell-like
I still remember his final sentence,
‘My mate Rory may well be gone, but his spirit lives on,
No illness can ever take that from us.’
Afterwards the boys stood about,
Shuffled their feet, said obligatory farewells
Embraced his mum, expressed their loss
Then went off to drink to his life.
Tackas waited, watch them all go, said he’d come with Clancy
And stood beside me.
He said nothing for quite a while then
asked how I thought he went.
‘Great,’ I said,’ you did a great job.’
‘Hardest thing I’ve done,
Didn’t think I’d make it half way through.’
‘You just great,’ I said once again.
Then he looked away, just a second it was,
Then I realised he was crying, sobbing his heart out.
I put my arm round him said, ‘It’s ok mate.’
He turned his head to me,
I was his shoulder to cry on.
We stood there and I shared his grief
No idea how long, time didn’t matter right then.
When he finished he blew his nose
Said ‘thanks mate’, and then nothing more.
But I knew he was cut
He and Rory were close
I was honoured I was there
It was my shoulder he leant on.
We hung around awhile
As Rory’s mum said her farewells.
Offered her lift, chatted as we drove
She said she didn’t know the man that he was
Said he became a man who was never her child
But she was sad he was gone
Said she’d miss all the mates
They were joy all together on a Saturday night.
Tackas said we’d come round
Check on her and have a beer.
That was one thing I loved about Tackas,
You knew when he said something
It was going to happen.
He was a man of his word
That I know to be true.