Sunday 21 January 2018

'It was the most difficult phone call of my life' - Well-known undertaker-turned-novelist speaks about losing his brother at 30

Jeremy Massey Photo: Dylan Owens
Jeremy Massey Photo: Dylan Owens
Jeremy Massey. Image: Facebook Newsdesk Newsdesk

Well-known undertaker Jeremy Massey has spoken about making the most difficult phone call of his life after his brother died of a heart attack.

Massey, a former director of Massey Funeral Directors, is a third-generation undertaker and began accompanying his father to removals at 13 years old. 

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTE 1 this morning while promoting his new crime novel 'The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley', Massey also opened up about losing his brother Zebedee to a sudden heart attack at 30 years old.

"Zeb was the movie star of the family," he said. "He lit up the room."

He told of how Zeb had a "massive heart attack" while playing football when both brothers were living in Melbourne in 2008.

"One of his arteries was 80pc blocked. He was playing soccer and was in the second half of the final and he just put his hand up."

"There's no history of it in the family. He was a fit guy, always playing sport."

Massey said that when the paramedics arrived, they "worked on him for a little longer."

"Because he was so young, the paramedics worked on him for a little longer. It just didn't make sense, he didn't look like the candidate for a heart attack."

Massey travelled by car for an hour to get to the hospital in Melbourne, arriving before the ambulance.

"I don't know how many funerals I've been around or I've arranged, but when you're around other people's grief you're there as a facilitator...whereas when it gets you, and it happens to everyone, it takes you down to your knees."

Massey explained that it was Mother's Day in Ireland when he had to make the phone call to his parents to tell them what happened.

"I remember the way the doctor said it to me was: 'I'm afraid Zeb's dead.'

"The first thing that crossed my mind, apart from the momentous nature of the news, was that line from Pulp Fiction when Bruce Willis says to the girl 'Zed's dead baby'.

"When I went out to phone my parents, I couldn't say that. My mother thought I was phoning to wish her a happy Mother's Day. I told her the only way I could phrase it was 'Zebedee died tonight'.

"And of course, that was the most difficult phone call I ever had to make in my life."

"I'm a big believer in the afterlife. I look forward to seeing Zeb again," he added.

The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey is available to buy now - the book is about a Dublin undertaker who finds himself on the wrong side of the Irish mob and is currently being made into a film.

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