“Charles, I’ve been wondering what was taking so long. The Post Office isn’t that far away! What’s in that letter that has you so stunned?”
Charles looked up, startled, and grunted. “Sorry; I received this letter and it knocked me for a loop. It’s from Jeremiah Barnaby Sutton, and it solves the headstone mystery!” He looked up at her, his face still showing his amazement.
“Charles, that’s great! Aunt May and Aunt Lily will be so happy and relieved.” Rose bubbled with excitement. “Let me see it.” She held out her hand, and he passed it over.
Dear Mr. Wallis;
My name is Jeremiah Barnaby Sutton. I was named for my Grand Uncle, who was a veteran of the First World War. He died in 1936 at the age of 40, and was buried in Windsor, Ontario, where he was living at the time.
He was my grandfather’s only brother, and they had always been close. Gramps made a visit to the cemetery twice a year from that time on, until he was no longer able to make the drive. In time, he developed dementia, and his mind wondered. He took it into his head after a visit to the Lakeview cemetery, that the headstone there for Sgt. J. B. Sutton, was his brother’s. One day he convinced my cousin to take him there, and removed the stone. Sam went along with it, because he thought Gramps knew what he was talking about.
They brought it back to the house on Elm Ave. Gramps told Sam that if Grandma saw it, she would get angry, so he talked him into burying it in a spot that was hidden, unless you stood right over it. I believe that is how it ended up in the load of topsoil. I went by and looked at the property, but it is completely different from when we lived there.
That headstone needs to be replaced where it belongs, to mark the resting place of your grand uncle. Since it was a member of our family who removed it, we are willing to foot the costs of its restoration.
Please let me know what arrangements you have made, and if it is acceptable to you and your family, we would like to be there to see it restored to back where it belongs. We feel responsible for all of the upset and stress you have gone through, and I feel that Gramps will rest better, too, knowing a soldier is honoured as he should be.
Sincerely, Jeremiah B. Sutton.
“Wow!” Rose exclaimed. “What a surprise. And what a wonderful person Mr. Sutton must be. Aunt May and Aunt Lily will be so thrilled to know Uncle Jim’s headstone will be replaced. You’ll have to write to thank him, and tell him they will be most welcome to attend when it is replaced.”
Charles looked up and frowned. “How about you write the letter, and I’ll sign it. You know I’m no good at writing letters.”
“Oh, Charles, that won’t do. It has to be in your handwriting. Tell you what, I’ll sit beside you and tell you what to write. It doesn’t have to be a long letter, just to say how happy we are to learn how the stone got to that field in Wainfleet, and thank him for letting us know. Then you can say how grateful we all are that they will help with the costs, and of course, they would be most welcome to join us for the replacement ceremony. Then tell him you’ll let him know as soon as arrangements are made. See, it really isn’t all that hard.” She grinned at him and patted his arm. He grunted, stood up, and went into the house. Half an hour later, he headed out to the post office to mail the letter.
Three weeks later, on a crisp, bright September day, the cars gathered at the plot in the cemetery. Everyone gathered around while two of the young men lowered the stone in place. A minister said a few words honouring James Sutton for his bravery and courage, and blessed the stone. A trumpeter played taps, and after a moment of silence, he played reveille, to remind everyone of the promise of resurrection.. Aunt May and Aunt Lily stood together, hands clasped, tears in their eyes, as they remembered the man who had helped make their childhood fun and memorable.
When the short ceremony was over, Rose and Charles invited everyone to their home for a picnic reception. Memories of granduncles were exchanged, the two families mingled, new friendships were made, and family histories exchanged. To everyone’s amazement, they found that they were related.
“It was an odd way to meet new friends, and family.” Aunt Lily said, smiling. “And one last joke from Uncle Jim.”
“Yes, and Uncle Jerry, too. He was also a joker” Jerry Sutton said.