- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

ASHMORE, Ill. (AP) - For Fairel Smith, having a picture of his mother and stepfather enshrined on their gravestone at the Enon Cemetery was not only an expensive gesture but also a prideful one as well.

Smith, of Shorewood, said he wanted to make sure, should those in the area pass the gravestone, they would be able to recognize the two. Smith’s wife Kathy said his mother Lucille Christianson, originally Lucille Hallock, was in the local area for much her life, later spending her remaining days in Dwight.

The photo was important to him. It was his special way to pay tribute to his mother and stepfather, he said.

So, on one of Fairel’s regularly scheduled trips down to where his mother was buried a few of years ago, it was especially disheartening to find it had been ripped off the stone, leaving marks from where it was pulled away.

Kathy said they did not think they would ever see the picture again.

But in October, on their regular trip down to the area to decorate the gravestone with flowers, they were “dumbfounded” as they approached the gravesite: The picture had been returned with the same sunbaked streaks across the photo along with its other imperfections.

The initial shock that came from the seeing the now re-emerged photo mounted back on the gravestone was immense for the couple. Kathy said it was beyond belief what happened.

“It’s gone,” she thought before seeing the picture again. “It is never going to come back.”

She had seen pictures like the one that was removed from the memorial stone at flea markets and garage sales. Kathy said they had seen people selling “likely” stolen gravestone pictures.

But the photo was there on the monument as if had never left. Kathy said at that point, it was a moment of total disbelief.

“I thought I was seeing something,” she said.

When they noticed the photo was removed in the first place, Fairel said they thought to go to McDonald’s in Charleston in hopes of posting a picture of the missing photo with a reward for the finder.

He said he just wanted the photo back.

At the restaurant, Fairel, on a whim, started chatting and questioning people about the stone. He happened to find a man who claimed he worked for the monument company. From Fairel’s account, the man said he thought he could look into it.

This encounter was the last they had with that man.

But, three years later, the picture has been returned.

Fairel said he has no idea who returned the photo or who had it in the first place, but for him, it does not matter too much.

“I am just glad it is back up,” he said.

Fairel said he is just thankful to the person who brought it back.


Source: Mattoon Journal Gazette & (Charleston) Times-Courier, https://bit.ly/2fGGjKz


Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette, https://www.jg-tc.com

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