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The Moving Gravestone

My brother died in 2000. He was 51 years old. We had been estranged for over 20 years. We had lived much different lives. When he died (killed) some of his acquaintances had his ashes scattered in the hills of Hopland.

After several years I felt that there should be some permanent indication of his life. I went to the local Ukiah mortuary and arranged for a flat gravestone to be placed in my family's Crawford plot. Since there were no ashes, I was told that the cost of the stone and installation would be $500. I paid the amount and went on with my life. Several months later I visited the Ukiah Cemetery at the plot that my grandfather had purchased. Descendents from my maternal grandfather were all buried there — grandmother, grandfather, aunt, mother, etc. But no gravestone for my brother. Again contacting the mortuary, they took me to my great-grandfather's plot (close by) where my brother's gravestone was placed in the wrong Crawford plot. It was placed right inside a concrete border. It certainly did not take up any future burial site. I had failed to tell the mortuary which Crawford plot to have the gravestone installed in.

After several years I received some legal papers from the Russian River Cemetery District charging me with installing a gravestone in the cemetery without the proper permits. I had not followed the cemetery policy and I was subject to some action. I immediately called the Ukiah mortuary who had no response or interest in the situation I now found myself in. I called the cemetery and found that the Gravestone had been dug up and was awaiting for me to pick it up in their maintenance shed. And would I please come immediately as it was taking up precious space in the shed. I went to the Ukiah Cemetery with a strong young friend and picked up the headstone complete with the concrete base attached. We brought it back to my ranch in Hopland. We dug out a square of soil the size of the headstone (minus the concrete) and placed it among some antique farm equipment. That is where my brother's gravestone lies today.

Curiosity got the best of me. I called the office of the cemetery and asked why after all these years my brother headstone needed to be removed. The reply was that two of my cousins had objected to having the stone in my great-grandfather's plots. These are my cousins, the same family lineage as my brother and myself. One of the cousins has her ex-husband buried there and they want to be buried there. But not next to my brother's headstone. But the headstone is gone and placed where it probably should be in our family ranch.

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