Crazy Cemetery Stories: Places of not-so-final rest
Time for the sixth in my collection of little stories based on my office job at a cemetery. As always I will begin by saying never do I mean disrespect by recounting these tales. Quite simply, when when you bury nearly a dozen dearly departed souls a week, sometimes odd things happen. And what is odd to one person is perfectly normal to another. I have the utmost respect for the wishes of families and the customs of other cultuers. But sometimes my imagination can't help but take some of the unusual circumstances and wonder about all those little details I was not privy to.
When we think of a grave in suburban USA, we think of a place of final rest, where the remains of our dearly departed will be safe and sound and undisturbed forever. Not always the case. Believe it or not, it is perfectly allowable to change from place to place. And it happens more often than you think. Why on earth would someone move a loved one from one grave to another? There are plenty of reasons. I will share with you some of the more unusual cases.
It’s her or me!
A couple came to the cemetery to purchase a niche for the urn of the gentleman’s deceased mother. They did not seem upset in the least, leading me to believe this was not an unexpected passing or not a recent passing. Upon examining the paperwork I learned it was the latter.
The woman had been deceased nearly 20 years! For all that time her urn sat on her son’s TV stand. So why on earth would he now, almost two decades after her passing, after seeing her every day, would he be closing her up in a cemetery niche? Well, this couple was also engaged to be married.
Something makes me think that his fiancé was not all that inclined to share their new home with dear old mom. I sure hope mom was happy to see her boy finally settled down and was more than obliged to move out on her own. And if not, I hope she at least has a little fun at her daughter-in-law's expense!
Would you mind moving over a bit dear?
And then there is Mr. Fox who, less than two years after laying his wife to rest, decided to move her. Not far. Just one grave to the left. Into the space that was reserved for him. And why is this? I can only assume that it was a failure to think ahead.
At this particular cemetery it is customary that, when standing at the foot of the grave looking up at the head, the husband is on the left and the wife is on the right. Why? Because the woman is always right, of course! (That is what I was told and I am sticking to it). And so when Mr. fox selected which of his two graves he wished to place his wife in, he selected the one on the right. He was to go to her left. And that is how she was buried.
If Mrs. Fox was placed where her husband requested, what could be the problem? Well, to the left of the space reserved for Mr. Fox lay the remains of his wife’s mother. Yes indeed. His mother-in-law. I have a very strong feeling that as he visited his dearly departed wife it occurred to Mr. Fox that his place of final rest was to be between his wife and his mother-in-law!
Now I am sure he loved both women dearly, but I don’t believe I know a single man that wants to spend eternity laying between those two women! And so Mr. Fox endured the red tape and hefty fees to scooch his wife over. I am sure she wanted to be next to dear old mom anyhow. Right?
For Sale By Owner
This has got to be the strangest request in the six years that I worked in the cemetery business. To this day I am bewildered by the question and the reaction to my response. I received a call from a woman in need of a grave for her recently deceased uncle. She did not seem distraught in the least, which is not all that uncommon. She had an unusual accent that even to this day I am unable to place.
In her peculiar accent, she asked if we rented graves. I very politely explained that we did not, but if she could tell me her needs perhaps we could find a way to accommodate her. She very matter-of-factly said that she wished to rent a grave to bury her uncle and once he was reduced to bones she would like to remove him and send him back to the “old country”.
Being the kind of person that will do anything to help another, I tried my best to offer an alternative. There was nothing objectionable about her request except one detail. We absolutely did not rent graves. She would have to purchase one. It would be permissible to remove her uncle from that grave at any time as long as she got the proper permissions and paid the fees.
Once her uncle was removed, she would be welcome to sell that grave to anyone she wished, just like you would sell a piece of furniture in the classifieds. Yes, folks. It is perfectly legal in NY to sell a used grave so long as the remains are lawfully removed. And you don’t have to tell the new owners that uncle Bob was in there!
She wanted nothing of my offer. Not only did she not appreciate my attempt at a resolution, but she became increasingly furious that we did not offer rental service. The conversation came to the point where I simply stated that we could do nothing for her. Conversation over. I do not know what happened to her or her uncle. I do hope that his old bones find their way to where they rightfully belong.