Crazy Cemetery Stories: Spouses, Spouses, Everywhere!
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?
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.
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.
Others in the Series...
- Crazy Cemetery Stories: Ashes to Ashes
This particular set deals with some intersting and amusing things about cremated remains and my dealings with them.
- Strange Cemetery Stories: What's that sound?
You hear some pretty weird things at a cemetery
- Crazy Cemetery Stories: Nuts and Bones
Prodees with caution.... then laugh!
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!