ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Crazy Cemetery Stories: Spouses, Spouses, Everywhere!

Updated on January 15, 2013
Source
Source

After walking away from graduate studies in Wildlife Biology, I stumbled upon an office job at a large cemetery. A three month temp position turned into nearly six years.

During that time I saw, heard, smelled, felt, thought, learned, said, and did things I never dreamed in a million years I would.

A constant stream of comedy and tragedy, it was the best and worst job I have ever had, or will ever have. And it was certainly never boring! This is based on my experiences. working at the cemetery.

Before you start reading, keep in mind I mean no disrespect. I cared for each and every family I served as if they were my own. I am honored to have helped thousands of people navigate through what is at the very least an uncomfortable experience. But this is life and sometimes there is humor in even the worst situations.


Spouses, Spouses, Everywhere!

Nothing is sweeter than a happy couple celebrating five or more decades of a happy marriage. It also seems these days that nothing is rarer. Unhappy couples get divorced and give it another try with someone new. Elizabeth Taylor had it down to an art. Seven husbands in total I believe, one of them twice! So much for "til death do us part"! Speaking of death, widows and widowers remarry these day without shame. And why shouldn't they!

It is not umcommon to meet a person on their second or third marriage. My own dad is on number three. This leaves me with a mom, a step-mom, and dad's current wife. Forget about me explaining my siblings!

If you think multiple spouses can be a headache in life, have you ever considered what happens after death?


Source

The Black Widow

It is not unusual for a funeral director to call regarding a person still inhabiting this earth. It is called pre-arranging and it is an excellent idea. Very often they are confirming that there is indeed a plot for that person and to be sure all arrangements are in order. If there is a spouse that has predeceased their customer they will check to verify that they are in the plot and to confirm that there is a place waiting next to them.

In Mrs. Carter's case there was a very nice resting place available next to Mr. Carter. There was also a spot next to her other husband. Oh by the way, she has another husband resting in the same cemetery. And another! Dear sweet old Mrs. Carter has outlived four husbands. My goodness.

Either Mrs. Carter is very unlucky in love, or very lucky in dispatching unsuspecting men. Which it is I will never know. I never had the pleasure of meeting her. I will always be left to wonder what it was that led to the demise of husband number one, two, three, and four.

I recall a joke told by a customer one day:
Why do husbands pass away before their wives?
Because they want to get a few minutes of peace before being stuck with them in eternity!

Well boys, enjoy yourselves while you can.


Source

An Otherworldly Cat-fight

Like Mrs. Carter, Mr. Johnson had several spouses already resting at the cemetery. Twp wives, both of them in the same family plot. In fact, Mr. Johnson's arrangements had him set to be buried in between them. Yes indeed. One on each side. Think about that guys. One wife to nag in each ear!

Everything was scheduled for dearly departed Mr. Johnson's burial service. A standard service, nothing out of the ordinary. Until the day we began to prepare Mr. Johnson's grave. I received a call from the superintendent on the two-way radio. "Dana. Get the Johnson file. Who are these guys on either side? What relations?" Uh oh. When the super calls from the grounds like that, something is always up. And it is usually not good.

"They are his wives. First and second. Why? What's wrong?" I hold my breath and wait. "They're too close together. He's not gonna fit!"

Turns out that each of the wives was a scooch into their hubby's space. Well, our talented super handled it like a pro. A little shifting of a Mrs. and Mr. Johnson was laid to rest, or unrest, between his two loves.

I suppose you could attribute Mr. Johnson's undersized grave to some gravedigger having a bad day. Things like that happen. A few inches off here and there. But this is an odd one, for it to happen on either side of one spot like that.

I have my theory and I am sticking to it. Those wives were trying to get at each other! Perhaps to settle some score in an otherworldly cat-fight. One could only imagine what would have ensued if they ever did meet.

Or perhaps it wasn't a fight at all? What if, after years of resting practically side by side, the wives bonded over fond memories of Mr. Johnson's shortcomings. Is it really that difficult to put the toilet seat down? And the snoring. Good grief. You'd think there was a bear in the house! What do we need with him anyway? Let's make this a plot for two! Well, sorry ladies. Three might be a crowd, but you will have to get used to it.


And the Widow is....

And then there is Mr. Wright. who served his country. And also served divorce papers, or they were served to him. More than one. Yes. Mr. Wright left behind several widows. Three to be exact. And all three attended his burial service. Perhaps out of respect and in mourning of the late Mr. Wright. Or perhaps to show up the other widows with a new spouse or designer bag. I have seen things less petty. Is widow even the correct word for an ex-wife of a decedent? I am not sure. I never thought to research it before.

Regardless, Mr. Wright had a lovely service, with military honors. Except for one little glitch. As part of the military service, the widow is presented with the flag that draped her husbands casket. As I mentioned, there were three ladies present.

Apparently, the poor young man tasked with presenting the flag was not prepared for this and when confronted with wife one, two, and three he hesitated. A family member discretely gestured to indicate the correct Mrs. Johnson and I doubt more than a few close observers caught on.

I am not even sure myself which wife got the flag. Was it wife number one? She was most likely the one waiting home, worried to pieces, while her brave husband defended our country. Or was it wife number three. The one he clearly actually loved. Third times the charm you know. As for the second wife, I am pretty sure she is out of luck. I trust the correct lady now has charge of that flag. Or does she?

I suggest next time someone call ahead to warn the honor guard. Or better yet. Why not make it like the bouquet toss at the wedding. Simply line up the wives, give it a toss, and let the best lady win! Maybe not. As the proud little sister of a Navy Lieutenant Commander I would never condone such a thing, as fun as it might be to watch. So I suppose if there is any doubt over the rightful owner of that flag they will have to settle it amongst themselves. Good luck ladies.

~

A final word to the living...

The anecdotes I have just presented represent a fraction of the odd things that happen daily in the workings of a cemetery. Hardly a day goes by when someone isn't scratching their head over one thing or another.

I am sure even now there is some poor gentleman about to be lowered into his place of final rest while two women scowl at each other over the flower covered casket as the funeral director quietly urges them to set aside their differences at least until they make out out of the cemetery gates. Easy ladies!

So all of you exes out there that gripe or laugh or cry about your previous spouse, just when you think the drama is finally over, it might not really be over at all!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Dana! Hilarious, I was crying. Nothing like first-hand knowledge of the dearly departed.

      Graveyards make me sad, though, especially the babies and kids you find there (the buried ones). But they are also fascinating, especially the old graves practically crumbling back into the common dust. In British churchyards some go back 500 years or more.

      A GREAT hub!

      Bob

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Bob - So glad you enjoyed it! Grayeyards can be the happiest and the saddest places in the world. I could tell stories of heartbreak like you wouldn't believe. My only comfort is to know that I helped the families through it some small way. There is more than enough grief in the world, so I will stick to the comical for now. Plenty more to come!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      As you may or may not know, graveyards are some of my favorite places and I love to read the tombstones. This hub was a kick in the butt and I'll be chuckling for a few hours now thanks to my friend Dana!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Bill. There were days working at that place I laughed so hard I could barely breathe! Reading tombstones it always interesting, also sad and sometimes hilarious. You have just added to the growing list of anecdotes I can tell. Now I just have to remember what it was I read on those things!

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Here's a quiz for you. Who went to the graveyard at midnight with a dead cat to cure a wart?

      Life is full of laughs if you're determined to look on the bright side. Cute stories, Dana.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      mizjo - yes. life is a funny thing. i am so happy that i was able to tell my stories so that other people think they are funny too. i feel like bringing joy to another person is like giving them a gift.... your quiz has me stumped!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Bill - I left something out of my comment. It is an honor that you consider me a friend. Good friends are hard to come by and I am glad to have found one in you.

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Dana, answer to my quiz: Tom Sawyer with Huck Finn.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Oh! Shame on me for missing that one! Now you have made me want to read that all over again!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      This was such a funny look at what really happens when people marry, remarry, and remarry again. My favorite story was the cat fight - the two of them were itching to get together! Thanks for the (albeit morbid) laugh :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Ardie - So glad to make you laugh. Sometimes I can't help but see the funny in life, and death. Thanks for stopping by my hub. And for following. A big compliment from a funny gal like you.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 4 years ago

      Wow that must have been such an interesting job for you! My mom loves exploring really old cemeteries, personally they tend to creep me out, but they can be very interesting, too. Thanks for sharing your stories!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      emilybee - That job was interesting, fun, sad, difficult, enjoyable and a hundred other things. I am so glad to have worked there. Everyone should spend some tiem workign at a cemetery. It gives you a whole new perspective!!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      This was fantastic! Loved it. I really enjoy mosing through old cemetaries...its a running joke with the hubby. Voted this up and more. :) And shared. :)

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 4 years ago from USA

      Brave, entertaining and certainly a warped way to live life, but certainly a canvas for much creativity. Good thing you have the humor and the picture of life and death on a diff level:)

      You're welcome to check out my hubs as well:)

    • Karre profile image

      Karre Schaefer 4 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

      Dana, this is absolutely hilarious. You are right, it is life and its these moments that get you through your job. Funny moments have gotten us through a few family funerals too. I think you've inspired my next hub! Karre.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      TT - glad you liked it. I have always liked cemeteries too, even more now that I worked at one. THey are really fascinating. Thanks for the votes!

      ALUR - Yup. I am a littelw arped, but in a good way :) There are many ways to look at life and death and I am lucky to be able to see them all.... Welcome to hubpages. I will definitely check out your hubs.

      Karre - Funny moments are everywhere. Just because they happen somewhere that is "unfunny" doesn't mean we can't laugh at them, right?! There certainly were times that were not funny, even devastatingly sad. I will keep those to myself for now. I would rather celebrate the joy in death than add to the sorrow.... Can't wait to read your next hub!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Dana...I enjoyed your hub and agree that humor may be found in the most unlikely places.

      May I add another cemetery/multiple spouses anecdote to the ones in your hub? This is true and involved my late mother. It also--in retrospect--seems funny to me.

      Mom was married four times during her 85 years of life. She was divorced from my father when I was a child and remarried several years later, only to be widowed within a short time.

      Her next marriage gave her a long and happy union with the wonderful stepdad who treated all children in their "yours, mine and ours" family as his own. As he and Mom approached their 60s, they decided to purchase side-by-side burial plots, choose their dual headstone and have all information but the final dates etched on it. Sadly, my stepdad's health deteriorated, and he preceded Mom in death by fifteen years. He was buried in one of the plots below "their" headstone.

      Fast forward to Mom's final wedding in her late 70s. The ink was barely dry on the marriage certificate when her new husband purchased side-by-side funeral plots and a dual headstone, which he proceeded to have etched with his and Mom's names and dates of birth. It may seem difficult to believe that a man past 80 could actually be jealous of his wife's previous husband, gone 15 years, but this was his nature. Mom's adult children weren't pleased when we learned about the new headstone, but realized it was, after all, her decision and we agreed to honor it.

      Truly, my mom was an excellent wife to all her husbands. She belonged to that generation for which marriage was a priority, and she never lost that attitude. Being a wife seemed to be her calling. When her then-husband's health took a turn for the worse, she devotedly cared for him until his death. By that time she was growing a bit frail herself. She also began losing her short-term memory.

      Mom lived the last three years of her life with me, and she reminded me soon after moving in that she was to be buried beside her last husband. I agreed to respect her wishes even though my siblings and I hoped she would change her mind.

      However, as more and more of her short-term memory faded, she spent more time thinking and talking about earlier times of her life, including memories of her marriage to husband number three, my beloved stepdad. As she remembered him more, she spoke less of her final husband until she stopped mentioning him at all.

      That is when I spoke to her about her final resting place, reminding her that not one, but two, headstones in her hometown cemetery carried her name. Which did she want to use? Did she still want to be buried beside her last husband? It would be my responsibility to carry out her wishes in this regard, and I wanted to be absolutely sure what they were. After all...she had two options.

      Mom, even with her clouded memory, never lost her great sense of humor. She laughed--we both laughed heartily--as we thought about the unusual situation that existed. Then she made the decision for which I was hoping. She wished to be buried beside the husband who had shared the most years of her life and made our blended family seem as one.

      When I inquired if I should have her name removed from the other headstone, she vetoed that idea. With a mischievous grin, she said to me:

      "Just leave it there. I'll be the only person in the cemetery with her name on two headstones! Won't that give some people a turn?"

      ----------

      Sorry to use so much space, Dana, and I didn't intend to usurp your hub, but the topic (and opportunity to tell this story) was too good to pass up...though my family may not be glad to see this in print!

      Jaye

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      JayeWisdom - What a great story! I am so glad you shared it. You mom sounds like a wonderful woman. I am glad I gave you the chance to share this. You should delete it and write it in a hub! If you choose to leave it hear I will certainly point people in its direction... No apologies needed for hogging space. I consider it a compliment that you were inspired by my hub. :)

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Thanks, Dana. I'll just leave my story as an addendum to your hub since you're kind enough to allow it. I'm probably going to be scolded by family members for telling it in print as things stand! However, I meant no disrespect to my mom, who was a dear mother and a wonderful woman.

      After all, in her mid-80s she thought the pending situation funny enough to laugh about it. I still miss her ever-ready smile and laughter.

      Jaye

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      JayeWisdom - I am sure your mom would love that you shared her story. Any family members that object need to relax. It's not direspectful to share fond memories. And if they are funny, go ahead and enjoy a laugh! Enjoy all those wonderful memories of your mom! Thanks again for sharing.

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 4 years ago from Australia

      It happens a lot, lining up for number 1, 2 o3 or more. My job is all about who gets the kids and believe me, if the split up isn't bad enough, its back to the courts when a new partner comes along (or is disclosed). I had never really thought about the other end of the situation when it comes down to, not who gets and kids, but who gets the flag, or the assets!!! If I was Mr Johnson I'd be opting for a lone plot so that I could really RIP!!!

      Very amusing and interesting read and reason enough to stick with one!!! My votes and best wishes to you, Dana and sharing!!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Fennelseed - It's amazing what sorts of issues surface, and it what different sorts of ways, depending on the stage of life. Things come up when someone dies that you would never in a million years think to worry about now. Boy was that job an eye opener! At the moment I am in the "zero spouse club", and perfecctly OK with that!

      Thank u for the vote and the share. I always love your comments. :)

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

      I hae to say...this is one of the most interesting pieces I have read on the hub. What a job you had...lol! Great writing here! Voted up and shared for being awesome!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      iamaudraleigh - wow! what a great comment! i don't knwo what to say. it really was the strangest job. nothing like i expected it to be. i enjoy sharing it with people. even more, i love when people enjoy reading about it. thanks a million. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi, really made me smile! lol! as you say there is humor in everything even in this subject! I remember at my mums funeral the pall bearer nearly fell down the hole! at the time it just passed me by as I was so upset, but looking back on it I can have a good laugh as I know my mum would have screamed with laughter! lol!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Nell Rose - LOL! Thanks for sharing that little tidbit! I am glad you get it. There is a time to be serious and grieve and all that. And then there is a time to laugh like heck! :)

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      Dana,that is another awesome one. I voted way up.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      IntegrityYes- thanks for the vote! It's been a while since I've writen one of these. Maybe I should get on that!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Dana,

      You're a natural-born storyteller. Your cemetery series is terrific! I hope that you never run out of anecdotes to share with us.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Daisy - thank you for stopping by. i really love to tell stories. and i welcome comments. how else will i know what works, or doesn't?. ... always appreciate your visits. see you around.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Dana, I can see you so clearly in the shoes of a graveyard administrator. I do believe that knowing (and understanding) the behavior of wild animals makes it easier to understand the behavior of humans.

      I can see so many complications in the (archaic) habit of buying double plots in a graveyard, although in some cases this will be the obvious thing to do. People are extremely emotional, over-sensitive, subjective and irrational while in a state of grieving.

      Why did your resign after 6 years?

      I love this graveyard stories and will read more as time allows me :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Hi MARTIE!!!

      I am sorry I never replied to this. I have been so busy that I have been neglecting my writing. Shame on me!!... It is interesting what you say about the behavior of animals and the behavior of humans. I have studied biology and psychology. Animals and humans are a lot more imilar then most people feel cofortable admitting. After all, we are just an advanced mammal....

      I did not resign form the job. I was terminated. I intend to write about it, but I am still appealing to receive unemployment benfits. Once that is done you better believe I will share the details.

      See you around. hugs.

    Click to Rate This Article