“Romantic” and “macabre” aren’t two words you usually see together. But that’s how to describe the plight of James Davis, an Alabama widow who promised to bury his late wife Patsy in the front yard of their home — so that’s just what he did.
Unfortunately, the town of Stevenson, AL, does not look too kindly on citizens turning their own yards into graveyards.
Patsy Davis was married for 48 years to her husband and they had five children together. She passed away 2009. As per her wishes, he buried her in the front yard near their porch.
Officials balked. Even though Alabama does not have laws against burying graves on private property and neither does the town of Stevenson, the practice is not encouraged. I imagine that has something to do with environmental concerns as well as planning and zoning issues regarding property values.
But James Davis, 74, is obstinate. “I’m not digging her up,” he told The New York Times.
But Davis didn’t, in fact, get the proper paperwork to bury his wife in his yard. He just went ahead and installed her coffin in a vault and hosted a funeral on the front lawn. The town of Stevenson filed a lawsuit against him a month later and they’ve been fighting this battle in the courts for four years. Earlier this month, the Alabama Supreme Court sided with the town of Stevenson. He still refuses to move his wife’s grave.
Okay, this guy is 74-years-old. He doesn’t seem like a dick. He seems like a grieving widow. He’s going to pass away at some point as well. Why can’t his wife lay in peace until then? Afterwards their family can deal with putting their graves in an actual cemetery. He wants to be buried in the front yard next to his wife, but after he has died, he’s not going to know where he’s buried. The town and the state are right to be concerned that tons of people putting graves anywhere they want willy-nilly could cause problems, but that’s reeeeally hypothetical. Go make an ordinance if you want to halt it in the future. But this, right now, isn’t a permanent problem. Leave the grieving guy alone.
And now he knows a tip when dealing with authority: it’s always better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.
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[Image of gravestone via Shutterstock]