In A Pickle  

Calls from the crypt

“You Hoo! We’re over heeeeere!” My ancestors cried out from St. Theresa’s Cemetery as I drove past.

They beckoned me for years as I travelled to work, but I ignored the urge to investigate. Graveyards give me the willies.

Meanwhile, I talked to my sister Pat, the family historian. She researched online to see if my hunch was correct. Sure enough, our relations were there. She asked me to take photos of the graves; I said I’d do so only if she came along.

Instead, I face timed a friend on my cell phone. Lorraine was my lifeline, and we explored the burial ground together.

The gate creaked open in haunted house style and panic rose in my throat when the door jammed. Now that they had me, would they let me go?

To make matters worse, the call dropped! I was on my own.

Rather than doing a 180, I veered left and checked out a fresh grave. There was a mound of clay soil heaped on it with the headstone tossed on top.

Another neglected site stayed that way for over a year. While a third tablet was beside the driveway, and the plot had sunk down so much it was hard to tell someone was buried there. “No respect”, I muttered.

The families of the dearly departed spent a small fortune on these headstones, only to have them dumped like trash upon a garbage heap. It was an unsightly mess. The tumulus’s need to be covered in sod and the monuments placed upright, I concluded.

In disgust, I shook my head and trudged on; dodging the land mines of marmot droppings, one family of them had also burrowed inside a dirt pile. The human remains now had furry wild pets to keep them company.

It looked like a mini earthquake had ripped through the oldest section; as the cement frames buckled or pitched to one side. There were holes and cracks in the burial chambers.

Perhaps some desperate souls escaped as they clawed and kicked their way into another dimension.

I shuddered, thinking a mischievous spirit might sneak up, tap me on the shoulder and say Boo!

The ground was lumpy, hard to walk on; my sandals slipped under my feet. Note to self: always wear running shoes in these places.

I contemplated while tiptoeing across the cratered ground that a person could disappear into a black hole and fall on top of some moldy skeletal remains.

You’ve watched too many horror films; I scolded myself as visions of skulls and bones danced in my head.

Eyes of the Dead followed me around, belonged to those of the groundskeeper instead. He watched out of bored curiosity as he bounced astride a lawn tractor.

Sighing with relief, I scanned my surroundings further, checking for danger. From within the trees, some ravens cawed at three turtle doves that burst forth from the branches and flew overhead.

The doves, a good omen, reminded me of the Trinity and I breathed a little easier.

Headed east, the next area was for children. It was heart wrenching to see a few flat markers that read “Unknown Baby”, while others had a loving epitaph from their parents. A couple of babies died the year I was born, without experiencing life.

Sorrow filled my heart as I moved on. After scouring the area, I discovered the grave marker belonging to a Hagel relative. He turned out to be my Dad’s Cousin Emmanuel with wife Martha resting beside him.

According to my sister, they had once owned our family farm on the Alberta prairies. Our father Jacob bought the property off of him in 1946.

Emmanuel and Martha moved to Kelowna afterwards and his family continues to live in the Rutland area today.

My husband and I moved here from Alberta in 2013, unaware of their existence.

That uncanny sixth sense kicked in soon after our arrival when I first heard my ancestors calling from the Crypt. They welcomed me to the neighbourhood, although I hope not to join them anytime soon.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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