Something to think about ...


As many of you know, my wife Barbara J. Scott passed away unexpectedly in May 2008. We had almost 57 years together and along the way, we developed some habits, like all married couples that form some of the unbreakable bonds between two people. In our case, there were many. I guess some folks call it "training for marriage" and some call it "coming of age."

After so much time passes, you find your selves doing the same things the same way, year after year, and your lives together become more comfortable and natural. One of those things that came so natural and would never change was, she always slept to my right side. It was so natural, we never questioned it. She explained it to me one time that she couldn't rest on her left side very long because the beating of her heart would keep her awake. I never questioned it and we spent the next 56 years sleeping that way, her on my right. In all our travels, with 37 years on the road together, she was always there, on my right.

The point of the story is to make folks aware of something you may have never thought of. When you purchase a couple of cemetery lots, you plan to use some day, there is nothing on the form to indicate which one of you is to be buried in which one. I discovered this recently when I was making plans and designing our tombstone. The memorial guy and I, for some unknown reason, designed the stone with Barbara's name on the left and mine on the right. For me, it was natural because I had spent all my married life with Barbara sleeping on my right.

When the time came to sign the papers and OK everything, I decided to go to her grave site again and picture the stone on the newly-poured foundation. As I stood there and reflected on our life together, it started to dawn on me that Barbara was in the wrong grave! She was going to be on my left. The more I thought about it, the stronger the feeling that I could not, in good conscious, allow this to happen, especially now, when there was time to correct it.

I called the memorial people first to make sure they had not started to carve till I found out if I could have her moved. He was OK but was surprised that I had noticed. He said they would have verified which side Barbara was on before they started to carve anyway. I then called the cemetery manager and told him to meet me there that day. We met that afternoon and walked to Barbara's grave. As we stood there, I asked him who had made the decision to put Barbara in the right side grave. He said he did. I said but shouldn't the family have that decision? He agreed and said all they have to do is tell us and we would follow it but almost nobody ever mentions it. I asked him, "Why did you pick the right side?" He replied, "Married on the right, buried on the right."

I asked him if he and the vault people could move her to the other side and when. He indicated they could do it right away. He and the vault people would work together on it but I should notify them first. I called the vault people and it was no problem. They moved Barbara the same week. By the time you read this, the stone will be in place and on display.

Meanwhile, I have asked at least four other people in the cemetery and vault business why the woman is "Married on the right and buried on the right?" They all said, "Tradition." I am totally confused because I asked a minister, "When a couple gets married and your observing the audience, where's the bride?" He said, "On the left." I thought OK but she is also on the groom's left. So, if she is on the left, that doesn't mean, "Married on the right, buried on the right?" Then why is she always on his left in all the other graves? Somewhere along the way, that old adage got twisted to mean, "Married on the (his) left, buried on the (observer's) right." How does that make sense? Except ... when they turn around and walk up the aisle, she is on the right.

I just thought you ought to think about it when you purchase a couple of plots, if it matters, make sure you tell the cemetery people which grave is which. I've been told, it doesn't matter to most people but to us it did. And you should exercise the option before a burial.

The next time you are in West Lawn Cemetery, look at the stones and see, the woman is always on the right. But, if you look at our stone, it will be for eternity.

If you want to see the stone, as you pass the cemetery toward the main gate, if you look to your left, it is the first stone in the row next to the road. It's worth a look.

Vane Scott