The Bagpiper and the Funeral

Funerals and death can be difficult subjects for people. Yet despite the solemness, quietness, and respect that are welcome and valued parts of funerals and death, humor sometimes creeps in. At such a formal and dignified time, funny things can happen too.

bag piper

Bagpiper for the Homeless

As a bagpiper, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a grave-side service for a homeless man with no family or friends. The funeral was to be held at a cemetery in the Oklahoma back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost; and being a typical man didn't stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew. The funeral guy had evidently gone, as the diggers were eating lunch and the hearse was nowhere in sight.

I felt badly about this. I apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down. The vault lid was already in place.

I started to play and the workers gathered around.

I played out my heart and soul for this homeless man.

As I played Amazing Grace, the workers began to weep.

I played like I'd never played before. Then I finished and started for my car.

As I was opened the door, I heard one of the workers say:

"Man that was really moving, I ain't never seen nothin' like that before."

"And I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

man wearing goggles

A Routine EMT Run?

I got a routine EMT call while working overnight in Berkeley. Our job as Emergency Med Techs was to transport the sick and injured to the nearest hospital or emergency facility.

We arrived at a residential address and proceeded to see what had happened, and to whom.

It seems an elderly gentleman name Roderick had been suffering from Asthma and Bronchitis. As fortune would have it, or, un-fortune, if that is a word, Roderick passed away shortly before we arrived.

He had lived a long, full life, and was clearly loved and respected by both family and neighbors, many who were anxiously awaiting our arrival.  

We learned that Roderick had 4 children, 11 grand-children, and 16 great grand-children.

I confirmed the lack of vital signs, contacted my emergency room physician for verification, and began moving Roderick on to the gurney for transport.

While my partner drove us back to the hospital, I sat in the back with the deceased. I leaned over the patient to ascertain as much information as possible for my report.  Standard procedures were in place for every patient transfer, with several extra steps in the case of death.

His clothing was loose enough for easy examination and confirmation. I lifted his wrist again, reaching across his large chest. No pulse. No breathing. Nothing to indicate life from his wrists, neck, chest, or eyes.

I sat back upright without another thought as we entered the hospital ambulance parking area. We carefully moved Roderick into an examination room and spoke to the attending doctor.

As we chatted with the nurses at the reception desk, the doctor approached us urgently.

"Are you should you checked his vitals?"

"Yes, why?'

"His wrist is twitching!"

"That's impossible doctor, I checked him thoroughly!"

Just then my partner got a call on his cell phone.

"Hey Jimmy, it's your wife. The baby is sick, and you need to bring home some medicine."

"Oh yeah, she also said you're not answering your cell phone, did you leave it on vibrate and lose it somewhere again?


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