The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Beyond The Picket Fence

-by Sherryanne De La Boise

A woman bought three graves from me. The third was not for an elderly relative, but rather for her ex-husband. Although divorced over 30 years, she was always helping her daughter to take care of him. Better to get his grave now, as opposed to being stuck later, when prices will be higher.

Where do you bury an ex? At the end of the row? Next to his favorite child? Next to an empty space? One customer bought and paid for all of the family headstones to be installed, just so that she would not have to spend an eternity next to Aunt Marcia.

I have just completed ten days with a man that I would not like to spend ten minutes with, the ex-husband. I finally got rid of him, oh but he's not gone: His car remains in my driveway. Dropped him (and the rest of his gear) at a nursing home. Excuse me, a rehabilitation center.

Weird how history repeats itself. My father was the same age when I sent him off to a nursing home. He had lived with me for a number of years and was very helpful with caring for the children after school, so I could work. He would sit on the front porch and supervise the neighborhood kids at play, as he doled out peanut butter sandwiches.

A shrewd cookie, he put his walker in a prominent place, as he sat on that porch, during our yard sale. People thought they could cheat the old guy, but he would yarn on about his troubles until they paid extra, just to get away.

Even the Jehovah's Witnesses had put word out not to call on our house. He was very well read and had pondered life's questions from many angles, even spending time in Egypt to measure the angles of the pyramids, which resulted in a 200 page book. He'd welcome them, pull out his well annotated Bible and pelt those poor good Christians with genuine philosophical inquiries.

They would want to leave him with literature. He would return their pamphlets on their next visit along with many questions and a reading list of relevant works that he wanted to ponder with them. They sent over one of their leaders, who called his Messianic Bible the "literature of Satan" (The Messianic Bible is filled with writings that were not selected to be in the fourth century version of the book, or the later Protestant version).

He and the Witnesses had a parting of the ways. The Witnesses wanted to perform an exorcism on him. They wanted him to forego his religious inquiries and just accept the gospels as "the only truth." For him, this was akin to being cast out of the Garden of Eden for seeking knowledge. But, he was curious about the methods that would be undertaken. I happened home unexpectedly (amazing how intuition works) to find my house shrouded and full of praying folks. Immediately I fetched my neighborhood clergy. So, like the joke, a priest, a rabbi and a minister walked in…

Probably the only consistent daily exercise Dad got was going down the stairs and the block to get a chocolate ice cream. Since we had a dedicated handicapped parking place in front of the house for our only car; and since the car would go with me to work. Dad worked out a deal with the ice cream truck (We were one block from the middle school) to park in that handicapped space. He would not notify the police to issue a ticket, if the vendor paid him in chocolate frozen treats.

The poor neighbors had to listen to "Turkey in the Straw" for two hours every day, played over and over again. Not the whole song, just the opening refrain. He calculated that not only did he and my children get free treats, but he was saving me the expense of all those peanut butter sandwiches that he previously doled out.

While it was hard to send Dad to a nursing home, it was a relief to send the ex. He had gone to live with my daughter while he recovered from surgery. Dad required a lot of assistance (and extraction from mischief), but was helpful with watching the children. My daughter has no children, so her father was just a lot of work. Like the lady who bought the extra grave, I had took the ex in for a few days, to help my daughter. Now to get rid of that car…

(next week, stay tuned)…