December 30, 2014 – Ups and downs

I woke up feeling really nasty this morning, not mood but my head felt like it was going to blow up.  Nothing like fighting a cold head on so I steamed, used salt water, slept etc and then I took my car to the mechanic to see if he could figure out why the check engine light is on. :I have decided if it costs a bundle to fix it then I will drive the car for another year, if not I will see how much I have saved up and see what I can get for it and buy myself some new little used something or other.

I did some sorting this afternoon, read all my Christmas cards and letters but then decided to read my book and then slept a bit. During all this time it was going through my mind, what does one write about in a blog like this. I could ramble about my days but then I thought about the story telling classes I have been taking for the last couple of years. Finally it came to me that I will start today by telling you a story. It is a true story although hard to believe sometimes, but it has been told several times and people always like it so I will tell it to you.

My mom, Norah, had dementia for a few years, and at some point we had to move her into a supportive living arrangement and later into secure facilities so she would not wander off.  A few years before she died the decision was made to pre-plan for her funeral.  So, I took myself down to Jones Funeral Home and met with Rocky Jones who is a lovely woman. We went through all the planning and picking a casket and then she asked me about my dad.  Well, as far as I knew his cremated remains were in a cemetery in Schenectady waiting to be buried with my mom.  Seemed like an easy thing to Rocky and she said she would go over and arrange to obtain them and then when my mom died she and dad could be together.

A few days later my phone rang at the office and it was Rocky.  She was very hesitant and then asked me if my dad had a first wife.  I told her no and that mom was the love of his life and they had been together 40 years when he died down in New York. It turns out he was buried with another woman in the cemetery.  I laughed and said no way, who is he buried with? It was some woman by the name of Dorothy.  Rocky wanted to know if he could have had a secret wife or lover. I laughed again and said he never even lived here so no.

Turns out the person who had been running the cemetery in 1978 was a crook, he took money from people and then never did anything with the remains, although dad was suppose to be held there until mom died. But he did not seem to have kept very good records.  When he was arrested and replaced the new person found the remains in a closet so they were buried in potters field.  It was unreal. My dad buried with this Dorothy!

Do you have any idea what it takes to get something like this fixed?? I had to get signed affidavits from my four brothers giving permission for them to dig up the remains. Plus I also had to get one as well with seals on it in case I had forged my own signature. It took about a month and the state had to give permission and maybe even have someone come out to make sure this was the right grave.

So, on a particular day I was told to drive to the cemetery and they would give me the remains.  It was actually pretty funny, They dug up this partially rusted can, about the size of an oil can, and put it in a little plastic box that looked like a miniature casket.  I first put it in the back seat on the floor not quite sure what one does when transporting the deceased, at this point I believe he had been dead about 20 years.  When I got home again not being sure what to do I moved him to the trunk of the car. And after telling folks in the house where he was I just kind of put it out of my mind. One thing I did not want to deal with.

About a month later our son Dan came into the house and looked right at me and said “Mom, you have to do something about Grandpa, He keeps rolling around in the trunk and making noise and I hate it”.  I guess that was not going to work so I brought him into the house and decided the place to put him was on the hearth. We never used the fireplace any more so what was the harm in putting him in there.

People would come into the house and ask what was in the box and the kids loved to tell them it was grandpa.  Some people actually physically jumped when told.  It was good for a laugh and of course the story of Dorothy being told.  That was when it came to me, we were going to have a family reunion down in Maryland and what if I made up a story about who this Dorothy was.  So I spent some time working on a story and wrote it all out about how Dorothy was my Dad’s long lost sister. That was why whenever he went any place he always looked in the phone book hoping to find his long lost sister who had disappeared one day in Victoria Station in London.  It was so far out and beyond ridiculous that I knew folks would love it.

At the family reunion I asked my daughter to read the story since I could not do it without laughing.  She read it and everyone was very quiet listening to the tale, one person actually turned to the  person next to her and said “I believe I remember hearing something about this in the past”.  That put me over the edge.  All of a sudden people realized that it was all a hoax and the laughter carried on for a good long time.  We did confirm that Dad was no longer buried with this Dorothy but we are pretty sure to this day that he never knew her.

And the end of the story is that when Mom died Rocky was very kind and let me know that Dad was with Mom and they are buried together.


One thought on “December 30, 2014 – Ups and downs”

  1. I think your storytelling classes have paid off, Margie. This is a great story.
    But it raises some questions for me and probably for others who don’t know you well. I guess your dad’s name was Laughland? And did he live in Canada? And how did you meet Denis and end up in the U.S.?
    Forgive me for being nosy, but I guess I’m asking about your family history. I suppose this is what we would talk about if we got together for a good chat sometime, but maybe this is a substitute since we live far apart. I just feel like I know the history of some of your early family from your transcription of Charles O’Connor’s diaries and it would be nice to find out how the rest of the family came to be.
    Happy New Year to you and Denis!


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