A Grave in Waiting

Nearly 32 years ago, my father died.  We weren’t prepared for it; in fact, we weren’t even sure where he wanted to be buried.  Dad was irreverent about death, “I don’t care what you do with my body, I’ll be dead.  For all I care you can run my body up a flag pole.”  We didn’t want any trouble with the neighbors, so that really wasn’t an option.

As it turned out, two weeks before Dad died, he told his brother, Fred, he wanted to be buried in the Frazier Cemetery, which was right next to the golf course and country club they both belonged to.  He said, “If a stray ball rolls up to my grave, I might just get up and play a round of golf!”  We bought him a plot and my mother one for good measure—even though my parents were divorced and Mom was very much alive.  We thought we could get them back together in the next life.

I decided the day we buried Dad that I would buy my plots (two just in case I got married, I have always been a hopeful soul).  I met with the cemetery trustee, a woman who was quite elderly, named Bessie.  I told her I wanted the two plots directly in line with my parents.  She carefully wrote my name into a trustee book recording my name and where the plots were that I had just paid for.

Fast forward twenty years.  My Mom went out the cemetery to put flowers on family graves for Memorial Day.  She called me and said, “Douglas, someone is in your spot!”  As it turned out a woman named Luella had been buried in one of my plots, she was in direct line with my father.  I called the cemetery trustee who was now Skip Short, no foollin that was his name, to find out what had happened.  He gave his apologies and told me that Bessie had two sets of books–one that she wrote the sales down in quickly, the other book, where she transferred the information in a very orderly and neat fashion.  Unfortunately, she had gotten behind and had sold some plots three and four times.  My plots were among those.

Skip Short told me that they would find me plots somewhere else in the cemetery.  I told him to pardon the wordplay, but I was going to “hold my ground.”  Luella would have to be moved.  While I sympathized with the situation, I knew that the closer I got to death, the more important it would be for me to be buried next to my parents. 

Skip was understandably quite exorcised and said moving her would be very complicated and costly. If the body was brought above ground, the cemetery would have to pay to have the state coroner to be present.  “Not my problem,” I grumbled, “Luella has got to go.”

The solution was the loop hole.  Don’t bring her above ground, but open the grave she was in and the one next to it and slide her over. 

What saved my perpetual real estate?  I registered the deeds at the courthouse, so when the time comes, I will be in line with my parents and next to Luella for an eternity!

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