Today I ran over my husband’s relative.
Good thing he was already dead.
I had parked along a road in the Spring Grove cemetery to ponder and walk. After returning to the car, I decided rather than wind around, I’d simply swing a 180. I made the turn and was almost back on the road when I heard a crunching, ripping, oh-crap-what-have-I-done sound. I shut off the car, slowly walked around to the front, and saw it.
The car’s fender had plowed into an 18” wedge-shaped gravestone. I’d moved the thing a foot!
The marker wasn’t damaged but it was too heavy for me to budge back, so I called for help. “You did what?” my husband Frank asked for the third time.
“Uh, yeah. You’ll recognize the name.
It’s one of your relatives.
On your mother’s side.”
While waiting for Frank to come, I studied the victim’s marker. I immediately nicknamed him cousin Vic and calculated that he was born about the time I was but died before he reached 50. Gosh, I thought, I hope he didn’t get run over by a car.
I cringed at my tasteless joke and vowed that I’d make it up to cousin Vic.
Frank arrived and wiggled the marker back in place. He didn’t know any details about the man who shared the uncommon last name of his grandmother, but agreed he must be a distant relative. I’d already formed a bond with this distant in-law and kept thinking of him as cousin Vic.
I drove home—carefully—and returned with a wire brush and rag. I brushed off any grass stains. Thank goodness I hadn’t damaged the marker. In fact, it looked better than ever.
As I polished it, I noticed the lawn mower had nicked it a few times, too. Poor guy seemed to be accident prone. I gave the headstone a last pat goodbye before calling it a night.
I tried to find accurate details about “cousin Vic,” but didn’t have any luck, so being the zealous fiction writer that I am, I made up my own. Vic had slick black hair, manicured nails, and never married. He was a hardworking truck driver, but a drinker. One day he went off on a bender. He foolishly tried to drive home, whipped around a corner too fast, and hit a tree. It turned into a grave situation.
Some twenty people attended cousin Vic’s funeral, I kept fantasizing, now on a roll. He would have approved of the small number since he never enjoyed large gatherings. Vic was an introvert and seemed aloof, but he actually felt things intensely. He was attracted to his divorced neighbor, but she never showed interest in him so he gave up.
He got a black lab puppy instead and named it after a beloved childhood friend. Tim turned out to be a loyal companion. Vic and Tim cruised from coast to coast and since Vic was conscientious about Tim needing daily walks, Vic shed twenty pounds and felt better than ever.
I patted Vic’s marker wondering if Vic truly had a dog and if so, what happened to it after Vic’s untimely death. Was Vic truly single, or did he have a family? I realized it was nearly dark. “I need to head home now, Vic, but I’ll see you tomorrow.” I looked forward to it. After all, Vic and I have a history together.
On the way to my dented car, I paused and blinked. This social distancing better get over soon. It’s gotten to me. I’m out making friends with dead people.