Tears, Beers, and Laughter
You may have come across a “Fergus Flanagan” in your lifetime. If you did, then you probably consider yourself blessed.
Fergus Flanagan was born in Kilkenny, Ireland. According, to Fergy, it’s claim to fame is being the smallest town in Ireland.
Fergy came to the US with his parents when he 14. Later he met Margaret O’Shaughnessey, married and settled in small town in Connecticut. They were married for nearly 60 years They were proud to say they raised a family.
I met Fergy at the Irish-American club on Commerce Street about 24 years ago. He was a regular fixture there, as they say. He always had a story to tell, or a funny joke; either way it always ended in belly laughs, glasses raised and sometimes even tears. Fergy had a way with words and no matter what he would say, it always sounded funny. Even the way he told us all about his mother’s funeral. Seems dark, but Fergy was the kind of man who made sure everyone was smiling. No matter what.
Well, the saddest thing happened. Fegus Flanagan passed away quietly in his sleep a few days ago. He had been living with his eldest son, Sean, that last two years since a few issues with his health. Fergy was a proud man and didn’t want help from anyone. So it was believed he was staying with his son to help around the house. Fixing odds and ends since Sean’s wife went back to work. Fergy was the Mr. Mom now, helping get the kids up and out the door for school, making them slow cooked oats, and greeting them when they got off the bus. We were all kind of envious Sean’s kids. Wouldn’t it be great to have Fergy as your grandfather making you laugh all the time. The truth of it all was Fergy’s health was failing and Sean and his family had taken on the burden of caring for Fergy.
There was a beautiful funeral planned by the family. It was largely attended by family members and many others who loved Fergy. It was a surprise to Sean and his family how many people showed up for the wake and funeral. Sean remaked about this in the touching eulogy he gave. Sean described the life Fergy shared with his recently deceased wife, three children and seven grandchildren. He described Fergy’s attention to detail, he was a master carpenter, and his love of drink. What seemed to be new was how many people Fergy had touched over the years and how many people Fergy had helped; be it by lending a few dollars, lending a hand, lending an ear, or his genuine compassion for everyone else. Sean and his brothers we not aware of how important their father had been to everyone else. This truly touched their heavy hearts.
As Sean spoke there were loud bouts of laugher from the people in the church, and heavy sobs and sniffles. Fergy would be the first to want to make people laugh and Sean clearly knew that as he spoke about his father. He ended with this story before inviting everyone back to the Irish-American club for food, drink, laughter and tears.
I remember my father telling me this story of when he was a young boy. My father took a job a local flower shop making deliveries to help his family make ends meet. He liked the work since most of the time the flowers would be delivered to pretty girls, many of whom hugged my dad when they got them. He said he didn’t fight that and said it was one of the perks of working there. Well, one day my father was left to watch the store for a bit while the owner stepped out. Customers came and went throughout this time and there were even phone orders. My father was feeling pretty proud of himself to be 16 and handling all this on his own.
The owner returned and pleased to hear from my dad how everything was under control. The owner gave him an extra $5 for his efforts. Well, as the story goes, a beautiful spray of flowers arrived at a new salon with a message, “sorry for your loss.” As you can imagine the owners of the salon were perplexed. And the other order arrived at Larson’s Funeral Parlor with a message, “Best of Luck in Your New Location.”
The church filled with laughter once again
Needless to say, my father was let go at the flower shop. However, as always, my dad, Fergus Flanagan has left all us laughing. Sean raised a glass of whiskey up and said “To you, Dad!, Thanks for sharing many years of laughter, tears and beers. We love you. and Best of luck in your new location.”
Farewell, Fergy. You will be missed.
No need to send condolences. It’s a work of fiction. Just needed a way to deliver the florist joke.
But truth be told. I hope you have had the pleasure of meeting a “Fergus Flanagan” in your lifetime.