Published June 9, 2008
You’ll never guess who’s responsible for stealing flowers off graves around here.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about flowers getting stolen off my grandma’s grave for the third Mother’s Day in a row.
She’s buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery on Lake Avenue in Elyria Township.
I called the local office for the cemetery and the Lorain County Sheriff’s office but neither place said it had gotten complaints about stolen flowers.
But it didn’t matter, I still didn’t believe thieves would zero in on the humble little grave of my dear sweet grandma.
And it seems they didn’t.
I heard from lots of people who were victim to these graveyard robbers – and most of them had put their flowers at St. Mary’s.
One woman said she has been taking flowers there for 21 years to put on her daughter’s grave. And, for 21 years they have been stolen.
She said it didn’t matter if they were live or cut, in a pot or in a vase. They were gone.
Several people said they would put flowers on a grave one day only to have them gone the next.
One couple said they even resorted to putting notes on their baskets asking the thieves to please not steal their parents’ flowers. But that didn’t work, either.
And, know why? Because the thieves can’t read. And the reason they can’t read is because they are DEER.
I know; you are probably having as hard a time believing that as I did but that’s what Joe Smith, director of marketing and family services at the Catholic Cemetery Association Diocese of Cleveland, told me.
I called Joe because St. Mary’s – by far the cemetery most complained about – is one of the 18 cemeteries in four counties that his association oversees.
"It’s a real problem," he told me, "and you’re not the first person who has asked about this.
"It’s the deer."
"Deer?" I repeated, imagining Bambi and his mom carting off the pot of my grandmother’s yellow violas.
"Deer and other wildlife. They eat the flowers," he said.
"I was out there. I saw a herd of deer come out of the south side of the cemetery. There is a thick row of trees there," he said.
OK, now. Joe was very kind – and earnest. I was trying to get my mind around what he was saying.
"So the deer eat the flowers and then the cemetery workers carry the chewed-down pots off the graves?" I asked.
"They take the pot in an effort to keep the cemetery looking pretty," he said.
"caught in a position where we can’t do anything about it. We can’t really hunt deer on cemetery property," he said.
"We know flowers are important to people," he added.
He said the deer situation is even worse at Holy Cross Cemetery on Brookpark Road in Cleveland. One time, he said, there were 47 deer in Holy Cross.
Hmmm. I was prepared to pepper the director of the Catholic Cemetery Association with questions but now, with four-legged gentle creatures -- who do have to eat after all – being named the culprit, I was stymied.
"So is there anything people can do to keep the deer away?" I asked.
"They can try putting a bar of soap in with the flowers," he said. “Sometimes that will keep them away but there’s no guarantee it will work."
If he wasn’t so kind, I would have told him that there’s no guarantee any of us will believe this, either. But I didn’t.
He said people are welcome to call him.
"We do solve problems," he said.