‘I was just ready to burst in anger, sad­ness and grief ’

Li­lac bush planted with fa­ther’s ashes stolen from man’s yard


A Scotch­town man says cul­prits not only stole his li­lac bush, but all that he had left of his fa­ther.

“I was just ready to burst in anger, sad­ness and grief,” said Matthew Mat­lock, 29.

Mat­lock, who planted the bush with his fa­ther’s ashes — in keep­ing with his last wishes — has since re­cov­ered the plant, dis­cov­ered cal­lously thrown into a ditch near his home on Thomas Street.

“I’m hop­ing some of dad’s ashes are there but I can’t be cer­tain,” Mat­lock said sadly.

“I don’t know if they got mixed in with the dirt or scat­tered when the per­son pulled the plant up. I’m hop­ing there’s at least a tiny bit still there.”

Mat­lock said the house and prop­erty were im­por­tant to his fa­ther, the late Fran­cis Xavier Mat­lock. “He was born in this house.” Mat­lock said in 2002 his fam­ily moved back in to look af­ter his grand­fa­ther, who then passed away in 2003. Mat­lock said his fam­ily has been there since. He said it was a rough go for his dad, who suf­fered from ma­jor health is­sues in­clud­ing di­a­betes and a lack of mo­bil­ity.

“He had at least six heart at­tacks since 1999, was in bed all the time.” Fran­cis died Feb. 14, 2014. “It was heart­break­ing, but com­fort­ing; he had been suf­fer­ing for a long time.”

Mat­lock said his fa­ther’s last wishes were to have his ashes buried in the yard that meant so much to him. Af­ter strug­gling for a while to find a good li­lac bush, a year later — for Fa­ther’s Day — they were fi­nally able to hon­our his wishes.

“My wife (Su­san Wade) doesn’t make a lot of money, she only works part time at the Ki­wa­nis pool,” he said.

“She went out and used her own money and got this li­lac bush that my fa­ther would have wanted.”

Mat­lock, his mother Cather­ine and Su­san planted the bush in their yard and it was vis­i­ble from the road.

“My mom had some holy wa­ter from church, “he said. “We shared a prayer and a few tears but we felt a lit­tle bit at peace.”

He said it was quite hot on Thurs­day when his mother went out to wa­ter the li­lac bush, and all that was there was a hole in the ground.

“Much to our ab­so­lute shock, hor­ror and dis­gust we found that some cal­lous and heart­less per­son had tres­passed into our yard and pur­posely dug out the bush and stole it,” he said.

Mat­lock, who works at the Con­ver­gys call cen­tre in Glace Bay, was so an­gry he posted in sev­eral public sites on Face­book hop­ing some­one would know some­thing about the theft.

“The re­sponse was pretty well dis­gust all around from ev­ery­body.”

Mat­lock said a few hours later one of his neigh­bours who saw the Face­book post came to his house, in­form­ing him some­one saw the li­lac bush in a nearby ditch.

“About three houses down we found the li­lac plant, still en­cased in dirt.”

He said he feels some­one might have dug up the plant at first in­tend­ing to plant it but then some­how heard about the fuss on Face­book and ditched it.

He’s not sure ex­actly when the plant was taken.

Mat­lock said they re­planted the bush in a new spot fur­ther into the backyard.

He can’t un­der­stand why some­one would take the ef­fort to steal a plant and hopes any­one think­ing of do­ing so in the fu­ture, will re­al­ize more than a plant might be at stake.

“I hope the per­son who did this didn’t know the sig­nif­i­cance,” he added.


Matthew Mat­lock, 29, of Scotch­town, kneels down by a li­lac bush he planted in the backyard of his home in mem­ory of his fa­ther, the late Fran­cis Xavier Mat­lock. Matthew had planted the bush in a dif­fer­ent area of his prop­erty, along with his fa­ther’s ashes, but on Thurs­day he dis­cov­ered some­one had dug the plant up. He later found it cal­lously thrown away in a ditch near his home.

F.X. Mat­lock

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