UNCLE BILLY’S FUNERAL

The funeral on Friday was for Uncle Billy. I was never that close to him, but I knew this: he smoked a lot and joked a lot and got into a lot of fights. When we were kids he used to tell us about all the nonsense he’d get up to when he used to work at the sea. Once, he told my then twelve-year-old brother about this time when he slept with an African woman for the first time; he told him about her thick pubic hairs, about how they were so much thicker than the other women he’d slept with.

The last time I saw him alive was in an aged care home. He couldn’t speak or walk properly; the strength he once had had gone. He threatened to punch his sister before falling asleep.

We watched them bury Uncle Billy at Mount Gravatt Cemetery, where he was placed between several other buried bodies. He was in a suit and his hands were cold and his eyes were closed and I had a feeling that he was still alive and thinking about something. His wife placed a sports jacket on his chest before they lowered him. People took photos. People cried. People fidgeted around, making sure they weren’t stepping on anyone else’s grave. I looked around: right next to us was a small mound of dirt. On that mound were a few flowers, a letter, a bottle of beer.

Everyone then gathered around for drinks and scones. I ate about four. There were people from everywhere, people I hadn’t seen in a decade. People joked around, people asked other people about where their families are now, people embraced. In the corner was Uncle Billy’s sister, wiping her eyes while people would take turns placing their arms around her shoulders and telling her things about life they seemed to know everything about.

I walked outside and looked at the view. The place was grassy, hilly; the air was fresh, the view was beautiful. I then went back inside and planned where to have dinner with my friends.