What I have to tell you now is very difficult for me to say, both because it is emotionally painful and because, quite frankly, it's hard to keep a straight face while recounting what happened. I've got some bad news, and some hilarious news, to tell you about your Uncle Murray.

The bad news is Murray died this afternoon at approximately 3:35 p.m. after being hospitalized for minor intestinal discomfort. I'm truly sorry to have to be the one to tell you. From what information we were able to gather, his medical problems weren't life-threatening. He died before his time.

The hilarious news, however, is that he died after a pair of bumbling orderlies slipped on an ill-placed mop, lost control of his gurney, and sent him rolling uncontrollably down the length of the hall and through an open stairway door. I have it on good authority that several eyewitnesses were moved to tears of laughter at the sight; evidently, it was a really funny way to go.

As a longtime friend of your family, I know how close you two were. He was like a father to you—the father you never had. I'm sorry. This never should have happened. But sometimes in life, slapstick scenarios like this just come at us out of the blue.

If it gives you any solace, his last words were about you. He was concerned that you'd worry when you heard about his indigestion and wanted you to know that everything was going to be all right.

Well, those were his second-to-last words, anyway. From what we know, his actual last words were, "What the—WHOOOOOOOAH...," as his gurney catapulted out the window after catching a wheel on the second-floor landing, sending him flying into the back of a passing banana truck.

It's still too early to know whether it was the impact that killed him, or if it's the fact that he fell off the truck one block later and skidded through a nearby circus tent before crashing into a miniature car full of clowns that actually ended his life. I think it's only right you should know that he got a standing ovation and huge laughs from the circus audience, and the nurses tell me the costumed midget who got in the way is going to pull through.

When something like this happens, something so unexpected, it's never easy. But, if nothing else,  a great many people were laughing their heads off at the goofiness of his passing. Hopefully, you and your family can find some comfort in that.

Your uncle was a very special person. He was a good man: devoted, hardworking, and kind. And evidently, while wildly flailing his arms and bugging out his eyes as he rolled away to the hereafter on that last out-of- control ride, he was a genuinely comical man as well. Those who were there for his final moments said that when his toupee fell off, it elevated the humor of the situation significantly, especially after it landed in the cleavage of an extremely fat woman. I'm told one onlooker actually squirted coffee out of his nose—it was that funny.

Not that any of that makes it any less tragic, of course. He was only 57. If it hadn't been for this improbable scenario, we have every reason to think he would have had many happy and productive years left in him, though none probably as entertaining as his final minutes.

It's always terrible when a life gets cut short. But it's not often that so many people get to enjoy it so immensely when it happens. You should be proud that this senseless death, at the very least, did not go unappreciated. No one should have to go through something this painful and laughable alone.

One last thing: I'm told your uncle left behind a sizable fortune no one in the family knew he had. There is one condition, however—I'm afraid the will predicates that you will not be eligible to collect your inheritance until after you've spent at least one calendar year living with an irrepressible orangutan who farts a lot.

Now is not the time to get into all the details. There'll be plenty of time to discuss the particulars of the orangutan situation after you've had a few days to collect yourself and come to terms with your grief.

Again, I'm truly sorry for your loss.