Stripped of last goodbye
EVERY day, without fail, Arthur ‘Davey’ Crockett goes to the East Ballina Cemetery to mourn his late wife.
Maureen’s ashes were recently placed in the Air Force Wall of Remembrance, next to a slot reserved for her husband, after she died from a brain tumour in January.
But Mr Crockett feels he didn’t get to say his ‘last goodbye’ to Maureen, who had been by his side for 48 years.
That’s because her ashes were put in the wall without Mr Crockett’s knowledge.
“It’s the same as if she was to be buried and I couldn’t be there when she was being put into the ground,” the 69-year-old said, brushing away tears.
“It would have been closure for me.
“I don’t even know whether Maureen’s ashes are in there or not.”
Mrs Crockett was born and raised in Ballina, and Mr Crockett was born in Coraki.
He served 23 years in the Royal Australian Air Force and decided to buy the two spots at the cemetery’s Wall of Remembrance when his wife was diagnosed with cancer in September last year.
She was given just 12 months to live.
When Maureen died in January, she was cremated and Mr Crockett took her ashes to the Ballina Shire Council to ensure they would be placed in the wall.
Last month he was told the ashes, along with those of several other people, would be taken to the cemetery on a particular day.
Wanting to be there for his ‘final goodbye’, Mr Crockett went to the cemetery and waited.
“I waited for more than two hours, but no one showed up. Nothing happened,” he said.
“Then they just notified me that she had already been put in the wall.
“It’s not right.”
The council’s civil services group manager, John Truman, said he had not been able to ‘become directly familiar with the specific details regarding Mr Crockett and his request to the council’.
“However, in general terms, the options in regard to the placement of ashes in the remembrance walls at the cemetery have previously been the subject of discussions with the Ballina RSL Sub-branch,” he said.
“It has been the council’s experience to date that theinterest in a ceremonial app-roach to the placement of ashes has been limited to a very small proportion of the total placements.
“Notwithstanding this, the council has previously aimed to provide such a service.
“However, to date, and for a range of reasons, satisfactory arrangements have not been possible.
“The council regrets that Mr Crockett is disappointed with the current arrangements and the council expresses its condolences to Mr Crockett and his family following the passing of Mrs Crockett.”
But Mr Crockett wants the council to change its policy.
He said the grief of losing someone was already hard enough to deal with.
“I just wanted final closure, to say goodbye,” he said.
“I wanted to be there.”