There were, of course, tears and pityings in the north of Sydney this afternoon as a larrikin lover of local entertainment, Sam Ballard was buried.
However, the massive crowd – which spilled out onto the street outside the intimate Palm Chapel of Macquarie Park Cemetery – cracked in smiles and laughter as they heard wild stories of a twenty-nine year old who lived life on the edge.
The talented sportsman died Friday, eight years after daring to eat a garden snail at a meeting in a friend's backyard in 2010.
Feeling nothing in the beginning, Sam complained of severe leg pain in the days to follow and was soon after the doctors decided to be infected with rat buzzing.
His close friends, principal, doctor and family spoke at the funeral this afternoon about the effect of that tragic moment on Sam and how he struck him until his death last week.
However, they were all in agreement, the medical battle did not take the blatant spark in his eyes and the joy of life away from the mischievous personality of North Shore – who kept those who knew him laughing until the end.
His former classmate Sam Jenkins said it was clear that there was something different about Sam since he was very young – stating that his closest partner was "as impertinent as them".
Jenkins and others described Sam as a fiercely loyal, kind and kind friend who looked for everyone.
"He always found the best of every situation, no matter how dark it is," he told hundreds of people gathered at Macquarie Park this afternoon, describing Sam as "drunkard of life."
His friends were shooting hilarious yarns that made the hundreds of people who were revealed today laugh. Mr. Jenkins described how Sam stole his things when he was in Thailand and only $ 140 left.
All this came after Sam had fallen so badly on the previous trip to Thailand with the guys who spent all the time playing sudoku and swearing to make a heroic return on the second trip.
Instead of pouting or moaning, Sam decided to consider the situation by playing a savage prank on his teammates.
Mr. Jenkins said he gave him bottles of Gatorade and, after his classmates had drunk them, he looked at them with an "evil smile".
They noticed that their heads felt funny and had "very small bumps" (according to Mr. Jenkins) from their shorts. Sam had drugged them all with a sexual drug.
It was this "sense of outrageous humor" that younger brother Josh said to enlighten each room.
Josh said he did not want Sam's friends "to feel guilty about what happened that night" in 2010 and praised them for helping his brother in the tough eight years to follow.
"We love you and you are part of our extended family forever," he said.
Josh also said that his brother "chose" his time to go last week after a "final party" – a cruise with those he loved.
In the end, he said he hoped his brother was "smoking an arrow" with their late father, jamming the Beatles and taking a cheeky dot to the pokies.
Dr. Lewis Macken, who has cared much of Sam's treatment since 2010, also spoke at the funeral and described how the sense of humor of the brilliant young man never left him.
He said that Sam's perseverance and the unwavering support of his family and friends taught him and his colleagues at the Royal North Shore Intensive Care the precious lessons of life through his "grit" and "sparkling personality" "which has always shone in the most difficult moments.
Matt Macoustra, the former headmaster of Sam, described how the young sportsman was a natural talent in everything he had focused on and this was highlighted in a video montage of an emotional childhood that showed Sam dominate on the racing track at a young age.
An obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald this week he declared that Sam's army of friends was there until the end.
"He had an army of friends and relatives who loved him and took care of him for whom he was truly grateful," he read the tribute. "His last days were the happiest and he was surrounded by a room full of love."
Sam's last words were reserved for his mother, Katie. The Sunday projectLisa Wilkinson, who spoke with the family before the Sunday news, revealed that Sam told her: "I love you".