‘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.