A Geraldton mother has been overwhelmed with support from strangers after she was told she had to remove a hand-made cross from her son’s grave three years after she buried him.
Tracy Carter felt helpless when she received a letter from the Geraldton Cemetery Board this week in which she was told her cross didn’t comply with the board’s regulations and would have to be removed.
The board said wooden crosses were prohibited unless treated, because they could attract termites and white ants.
“I had to prove that it was treated, I had to prove the date it got treated, which was 3 years ago now, so there is no way on God’s earth that I would have receipts,” she said.
When her son Daniel died, Ms Carter didn’t have enough money for a headstone, so she made a cross from wood.
“I treated it and mosaiced it, with tiny little tiles from top to bottom. It took me five months to make,” she said.
“I just wanted something really special for him. It was a really hard time, but it was my way of giving him something.”
Three years on, the cross now has to be taken down and Ms Carter cannot understand why she wasn’t told sooner.
“There are rules and regulations and I was supposed to approach the board and see if I could have the cross in the first place. Apparently when you get a plot you do get a form – I suppose I wasn’t thinking, that is the last thing I was thinking of. My son was only 22, so I wasn’t going to read anything, still to this day I haven’t read anything,” she said.
“I didn’t read anything, and that’s down to me, but what I can’t understand is why over three years did it take for them to come and realise that it was a wooden cross.”
Ms Carter eventually reached out to strangers on Facebook for any advice that would allow her to keep the cross.
“I wrote in to that [Facebook page], just trying to see if anyone had a way to see if I could maybe tell them to shove it after it had been there so long,” she said.
Instead of advice she received hundreds of supportive comments and generous donations from strangers.
Perth man Mike Lanigan offered to make a brand new cross out of steel and a group of members started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a memorial stone, which was offered for sale at a discounted rate by another group member.
Ms Carter said she was speechless at the kindness of complete strangers.
“It’s awesome. I honestly didn’t expect anything. I honestly haven’t come here for anyone’s money. I just wanted a little bit of advice so my boy can have something lovely,” she said.
“I can’t say thank you enough to everyone. It was so unexpected. It wasn’t my intention to go get a GoFundMe, and everyone has been so lovely and I just thank everyone so much from the bottom of my heart.”