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Filtering by Category: Funeral

A thank you from afar...

Today something happened that has never happened before (which is rare in the world of bagpiping). I received a thank you note from an individual I'd never met, who heard me piping from a distance (because, ya' know...bagpipes) at a completely separate funeral service.

Here's an excerpt:

"Dear Mark,

This is a heartfelt note of thanks from a Canadian of Scottish decent, thanking you for your beautiful bagpipe music which was a great comfort to me recently. At the time I couldn't see where the music was coming from so later I asked at the cemetery office and was given your name.

...when I came back for the internment, I was alone. It was a sad occasion without any associated ceremony or service and without other members of the family along as witness or support. As I was sitting on the steps by the columbarium after the internment wishing for some better way to have marked this final event of her life, I heard beautiful bagpipe music nearby...it seemed as if it was a tribute to my sister as a member of the Ronald clan, a sect of the MacDonnell clan of Keppoch.

I am glad to know that the art is alive and well in Portland through people such as you...thank you for your time on behalf of veterans and their loved ones.

Phyllis T."

I find it remarkably generous that she took the time to write a letter to someone she had never even met.  I've always known the bagpipe is loud and the sound carries over a great distance, but I usually assume those hearing it in the distance were annoyed by it, not enjoying it! Randomly enough I'm also a half Canadian of Scottish and Irish decent, so the note hit a little close to home.

As someone who has witnessed many funerals over the years I actually see the situation of the one-person-funeral fairly often. A few times I've even played for zero-person-funerals, where it's just me and the funeral director paying our respects with no one else physically there to hear it. I think it shows great stoicism and commitment to be that sole family member present at the funeral, and good on Phyllis for being there.

When I first started out I always threw away any thank-you cards I received from clients, but now I keep them (years worth of them...is this creepy?) tucked away in a folder. Maybe someday before I finally pass away from a brain aneurysm (caused by playing too many hard reeds over the years) I'll pull them all out and make a giant...thing.

Bagpiper entertains guests at neighborhood block party WITHOUT riding a unicycle

I swear to the bagpiping gods someday I'm going to tackle that unicycle-riding, Darth-Vader-helmet-wearing, bagpiper right onto the moist Portland pavement. I mean I've got to give him (or her!?) props for the amount of crazy multitasking it must take to do all that at once, and it just so happens that the way I give props is by performing a sneak attack critical hit from behind. 

In other news, I was extremely honored to play at a celebration of life in North Portland that later evolved into a block party. I couldn't have played for a more humble, friendly, and generous family. And this wasn't some weak-sauce coffee hour after church party- we're talking street blocked off, rock band jamming out, and nearly every person residing on the street coming out of their homes and enjoying the September sun. 

Special thanks to Cheryl M. who was also curious to see how many rum and coke's it would take for me to make a mistake in Scotland the Brave (answer: 3).