I decorate grave sites during the early morning hours. This being Veteran’s Day Weekend I put out plenty of American Flags along with flower arrangements. At dawn it will be a sight to behold.
I love my job, but I must admit I do sometimes get a bit creeped out.
I bring candy for any ghostly children who may be around and some extra flowers for the ladies . . . and the gentlemen are quite fond of Jack Daniels, so I have some bottles ready for them, too. These are all ghostly apparitions that appear while I’m working.
It’s nice that they’re used to me, but as long as I’ve been doing this, I can’t help but be startled from time to time.
I pretty much thought that I’ve seen it all, but I did get a bit of a scare when a floating head followed me into the cemetery. It was just bobbing along beside the truck on the passenger side.
It reminded me of the bouncing ball that used to be used to follow the words in the song on cartoons and old Mitch Miller television programs.
Thoughts like this pop into my mind at the craziest times, but I’ve found it better to laugh about something creepy than be scared. It may be what has allowed me to do this job for so many years.
The shadows seemed to be alive.
Dark spots seemed to dart behind tall gravestones or trees. My initial thought that kids were out, but it is a closed cemetery. I suppose there is always a way inside other than through the main gate, but I hadn’t heard about it . . . other than the underground tunnel, but that was blocked off years ago . . . or that’s what the city wants us to believe . . . some have denied they had ever existed.
I concentrated on the job I had to decorate all the grave sites. It was going to be a long night. I started at dusk, when the gates were closed. I knew someone would be back around midnight to let me out, but until then I was alone in the cemetery . . . except for the ghostly residents.
I’m used to having the feeling of being watched, but the shadows moving in the darkness were new to me as was the bobbing ghostly head.
I was singing patriotic songs in my head as I worked, but creepy songs seemed to drown them out. I thought about “Monster Mash” which I always found enjoyable, but it was soon replaced with “Do you ever think as a hearse goes by, that you may be the next to die? They wrap you up in a big white sheet from your head down to your feet. They put you in a big black box, and cover you up with dirt and rocks. All goes well for about a week, then your coffin begins to leak. The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout. They eat your eyes, they eat your nose, they eat the jelly between your toes. A big green worm with rolling eyes, crawls in your stomach and out your eyes. Your stomach turns a slimy green, and pus pours out like whipping cream. You spread it on a slice of bread, and that’s what you eat when you are dead.” . . . I got a chill.
I kept working. That last song stayed in my mind much longer than I felt comfortable.
A baseball rolled up beside me. I knew that was Billy, a young boy I’ve seen at the cemetery from time to time and who, along with his ghostly friends come to my house at Christmas . . . but that’s a different story for another time.
I set a box of Junior Mints beside the baseball. I knew Billy liked them and would share them with his friends. I did feel a little more relaxed knowing Billy was there and forgot about the shadows . . . and the disgusting song.
There was a slight breeze that gave a gentle nudge to the leaves that seemed to whisper throughout the cemetery from tree to tree. Fortunately, the dark shadows were still.
I got that cold chill again. Checking my watch and looking around, I knew I had no time to entertain my imagination. I had an hour to finish up and meet the caretaker at the gate.
I moved the truck to light up the last section of the cemetery. I worked in silence — no songs popped in my head, but something strange did happen. I heard and then saw flowers being placed at the far end of the cemetery. It may have been the soldiers I brought the Jack Daniels for helping me out.
With the help of my ghostly soldiers, I finished early and waited at the gate for the caretaker. He seemed pleased to see me. I usually have a bottle of Jack Daniels for him, but my ghostly helpers, helped themselves to all the bottles along with the flowers they placed for me. If the caretaker wanted one, he’d have to deal with the soldiers.
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Cemeteries mean different things to different people.
Lori moved back home to live with her parents after a bitter divorce. She didn’t want to burden her parents with her sadness and bitterness, so everyday she went to the cemetery and just poured her heart out on the grave of someone she didn’t know.
She would go to the oldest session, knowing it was the quietest and least visited. There was the headstone of Rosemary who was born in 1823 and died in 1848 at the young age of 25.
Lori forgot about her sadness when she read the dates on the headstone.
“Excuse me Rosemary, but why was your life cut short?” she asked as she sat down. Then she apologized. “I’m sorry, where are my manners. I’m Lori and I’m 25. My husband divorced me and I’m now living with my parents.”
Lori didn’t expect an answer, but she was hoping for one. She imagined how great it would be for a ghost to come out of her grave and have a heart-to-heart talk with her.
She heard a whispered “Divorce?”
It did sound like a question, so Lori answered. “I married too young as my parents kept telling me. Ray’s parents said the same thing to him. We just graduated from high school. It seemed to be the right thing to do.”
Lori explained how she worked full-time in a little boutique owned by a woman who became ill and needed someone to manage the shop. “I loved my job and took some night classes to learn about managing a dress shop and about keeping the books and ordering merchandise.”
Ray was able to quit his part-time job and attend college full-time since Lori was working and making good money to support them.
The owner of the boutique passed and left the store to Lori.
“I was both scared and excited, but the stress of owning a store got to me.”
She worked night and day at the boutique. Ray was understanding at first. He’d bring take-out and they’d eat together and talk.
“Ray insisted I sell the boutique. He wanted to buy a house and begin a family after he graduated from college. He had a job waiting for him.”
Lori agreed to sell the boutique and to use the money to buy a house. The extra money was to get them through until Ray’s graduation and his employment. Things, unfortunately, didn’t go as planned.
She found out that she couldn’t have children and this was the deal breaker for Ray. He wanted a divorce.
Lori heard “No children.”
It was a statement. She felt Rosemary was interacting with her, but she didn’t know if it was just a response to what she had said or if Rosemary was trying to tell her something.
“Rosemary, were you married?”
“Almost,” was the reply.
Communicating with the dead was not at all how Lori imagined it to be. She needed to ask the right questions or do some research in the newspaper archives.
Lori decided to stay and try to get answers from Rosemary.
“Did you die on your wedding day?”
“Can you give me more than one word answers, Rosemary?” Lori asked frustrated.
This was getting interesting, but Lori was impatient.
Fortunately, someone passed by and asked, “Are you related to Rosemary?”
“No, I was just sitting here. Are you a relative?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Rosemary had a tragic life. She was planning to get married, but she died before the wedding.”
“No one knows.”
“Was she murdered?”
“What made you ask that!” The woman was so indignant that she walked away in a huff. Lori knew she had to solve this mystery. She knew it would take a long time trying to get at the truth with Rosemary, but she was determined to try.
Everyday Lori visited Rosemary’s gravesite. She’d ask questions, some days she’d receive cryptic responses and other days receive nothing at all.
After a month, Lori decided to consult a psychic.
She learned that the man Rosemary was planning to marry was named Jonathan Westlake. He had a wife and four children in another state. That was during the time he was courting Rosemary and asked her to marry him.
According to the psychic, Mrs. Westlake, Jonathan’s mother, came to put a stop to Jonathan’s adulterous affair by arranging the disappearance of Rosemary.
“But Rosemary told me she was murdered,” insisted Lori.
After several more sessions, Rosemary was able to communicate the actual facts of her death.
Yes, she did meet with Mrs. Westlake and learned of Jonathan’s wife and family. Rosemary was devastated by the news. She walked home to her parent’s house after the meeting.
Rosemary’s parents lived on a farm outside of town. She walked that lonely deserted road hundreds of times while growing up there to go to school and to visit with friends. It never bothered her. She enjoyed the exercise, but her mind focused on the betrayal. She plotted in her mind how she would ruin Jonathan Westlake. He sold farm equipment to the various farmers. That was his reason for being there. Her parents were well-known and influential in the town. It was because of her parents and the announcement of her marriage that persuaded other farmers to buy from Jonathan.
Evidently, the elder Mrs. Westlake and her son knew Rosemary could cause trouble for him. Rosemary had to die before she reached the farmhouse. And that was exactly what happened.
“I knew I was being followed,” Rosemary told the psychic. “I heard my name being called by Jonathan. I wasn’t about to stop. I never wanted to see him again. There was nothing he could say that would make this right. He used me!”
“I heard a loud buzzing in my head. It sounded like a swarm of hornets,” Rosemary said sadly.
Lori concluded that Jonathan shot Rosemary in the head. It was confirmed by the psychic.
Jonathan and his mother left that night never to return.
Lori still visits Rosemary’s gravesite. She still finds comfort at the cemetery. She no longer dwells on her failed marriage with Ray and all she gave up for him. She goes to learn what she can about the lives of the men, women and children buried in the old section of the cemetery.
I found this real ghost story interesting — not only to learn about Rosemary, but to learn how Lori’s life turned around. She began volunteering at the Historical Society and writing stories about the lives of those who lived, died and were buried in the local cemetery.
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I was delivering flowers to grave sites one afternoon when I saw a ghostly apparition of three ladies dressed up in Victorian style clothing having tea.
They nodded at me as I passed by. It was quite remarkable to see a formal tea party. I didn’t want to intrude and I wasn’t dressed appropriately for such a formal tea party, but when I passed by again, I handed each lady a red rose. I always keep extra flowers in my truck in the event I see a ghost or have a feeling of leaving flowers on a particular grave.
Since Veteran’s Day was drawing near, I was setting out arrangements requested by family members and they wanted me to tuck a bottle of Jack Daniels in the flowers. I had several similar requests and was spreading these “special” arrangements throughout the cemetery. I think when they arrived to pay respects, they wanted to give a special toast to their loved ones.
I did pass by the “tea party” several times.
One ghostly woman stopped me. She spoke formally. “We appreciate the flowers, but we wouldn’t mind a little something to brighten the taste of this tea.” She then inclined her head toward the floral arrangement I had in my hands and more notably the bottle I had tucked inside.
I set the flowers down and fished out the bottle and very formally bowed to the ladies and offered the bottle of Jack Daniels to them.
I delivered the flowers and had to get another bottle out of my truck.
After delivering all my arrangements for the day, I sought out my “tea party” ladies. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. I made a mental note to have a bottle for them instead of flowers. I got in my truck and drove away.
I was curious about these ladies and their tea party.
There’s a man I met years earlier in the archives at the library and I thought I would pay him a visit.
I explained my experience at the cemetery and he led me out of the library and to the park. He started laughing. I didn’t know the joke, but I was pleased I could bring some happiness into his life.
He told me those weren’t fine ladies having tea, they were “working girls” engaged in the “oldest profession.”
I couldn’t believe it. They seemed so refined and lady like, but that must have made them successful in their line of work.
He walked away, still chuckling.
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While in high school, I did house sitting and dog sitting. I had another job at a local flower shop.
The local flower shop would hire high school students from time to time when volume was high — Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day — graduations and weddings. Then, there were funerals.
As you may have gathered, I was drawn to doing flower arrangements for funerals.
I also pretty much specialized in doing casket sprays and gravesite bouquets. There are many people who want to have fresh flowers on their loved ones graves, but they aren’t in the area to do it. So, I’m hired. Sometimes various cemeteries need someone to put flowers on graves for special occasions. I’m hired for that, too.
While everyone else was into the “fun” floral arrangements, I was into the funeral and gravesite floral arrangements. My friends worked “normal” hours, I worked “after hours.” I enjoyed the solitude, but the flower shop was spooky.
There was nothing specific at first. Just random noises: knocks on the walls, footsteps, scraping sounds of something being moved and doors opening and closing.
I could ignore it most of the time when I was especially busy, but then I’d get a cold breeze on the back of my neck or a whisper in my ear that I couldn’t understand I would get a bit spooked, but I knew I had a job to do and couldn’t run out screaming.
I could hear people talking. I thought customers got in, but when I’d check, no one was there.
The real problem was the mood swings I noticed with the owner and the various florists. Sandra, the owner, claimed I left the back door unlocked when I left. I know I locked up. I kept the door locked when I was working. Then there were the suppliers who didn’t want to make deliveries or claimed Sandra cancelled a delivery. She claimed I was sabbotaging her business, that I was setting up my own flower shop and turning the suppliers against her. I had little contact with the suppliers. I had no idea how she got such notions. I offered to quit, but she cut my hours, instead..
That didn’t work out for her because I was making a reputation for myself with various mortuaries and cemeteries. It seemed funerals were a big business. People were asking for me, which made Sandra furious.
She did fire me, which was good. With the help of my parents, I was able to buy out an old floral shop in town. The man and his wife were very generous and helpful in getting me started.
I specialized in funerals, of course. I sent customers who wanted other floral arrangements to Sandra, but she became more and more angry with me. Just the mention of my name was enough to set her off.
She came into my shop one afternoon accusing me of vandalizing her shop. The police arrived to make her accusations official. Fortunately, I had an alibi. I had several witnesses who could account for my whereabouts on the night in question. I had three big cemetery jobs to do. I worked at night getting the graves dressed for Memorial Day. I worked from 6 in the evening through the wee hours of the morning. I wanted everything done when visitors would be coming to the cemetery. There was the caretaker at each location who let me in and out. There was also the evidence that flowers were placed on the graves. Fortunately, each cemetery was miles away from Sandra’s shop.
As my business was booming, Sandra’s declined.
I heard rumors that she was rude with customers and no one wanted to work for her. I knew something wasn’t right at her flower shop. It had to do with the paranormal. Some force was causing Sandra’s problems.
Then, the unthinkable happened, Sandra’s flower shop caught fire while she was inside. Her husband claimed he received a frantic phone call from Sandra saying she was trapped in the shop, she couldn’t get the doors opened, but the firefighters said the doors were unlocked.
I did the flowers for her funeral. Once a week I put flowers on her grave. I do hope she has found peace.
The lot that was once Sandra’s Flower Shop has been sold and a beauty shop was there for awhile, but it was sold and made into a dress boutique, which was sold and made into something else. It is now empty. It seemed no business lasted over six months at that location. Whatever’s there doesn’t want to be disturbed.
Just to clarify, I’m still doing funeral and gravesite floral arrangements. A business that seemed to find me has continued for more years than I want to admit. I have, however, sold my shop. I am on call for “emergencies” when mortuaries need casket sprays.
I do wonder if it had anything to do with the night my brother and I had our little adventure in the cemetery after dark. You can read about it here.
I have met some interesting “ghosts” over the years. But that’s another story for another time . . .
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