New Castle News

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March 29, 2014

Josh Drespling: If it’s your property, is it your cross to bear?

NEW CASTLE — There is a new house being built along one of the roads I travel every day on my way to and from work.

It looks like it is going to be a very nice house. It has a beautiful brick exterior, three-car garage, and the back looks like it is open to an expansive wooded area. Prime spot for a nice, big deck, in my opinion.

I have watched as they cleared the wooded lot and made way for the footers and foundation to be laid. I caught a few glimpses of the framing crew. I even saw the day that they brought in a crane to raise the trusses for the roof.

I've seen the roofers running square after square of shingles. I've also seen various different kinds of pickups and work trucks with contracting business names plastered on their sides. I assume these were the electrical, plumbing, and various other sub-contractors.

I've witnessed a landscaping company cut through the earth to make way for a beautiful and sweeping half circle driveway. In what is the center of the circle, they left a small patch of trees. It looks quite nice like that and shields the house from direct sight from the road and most likely will deaden some of the road noise.

One day I noticed a curious thing. Between the two ends of the driveway, in front of the patch of trees, there was a cross. It was one of those roadside monuments that commemorate the death of a loved one. This one was a white cross draped with some fake green leafy plants material and bright purple, yet artificial looking flowers.

I guess this was a makeshift memorial to a lost friend or loved one. I can only assume that they lost their life along this stretch of highway and, in mourning, the survivors have erected this cross. Unfortunately, they chose to place this memorial directly on the property of this bright new house. It actually sits on a strip of lawn that the homeowner mows and maintains at the edge of the road.

What are the ethics here? Do you, as the homeowner, remove the cross? After all, it is your property and this bunch of Styrofoam and plastic flowers is not appealing to the eyes in the least. On the contrary, are you bound by some unwritten ethical or moral obligation to maintain this monument from the poor soul who you never knew?

This may not even be the exact spot that they lost their life. If it was an auto accident, they more than likely passed away on the road and not on your property. The survivors have placed the memorial at the most convenient place for them, which just so happens to be in front of the new home you have spent the last 10 years working and saving for.

If it pulls at your heartstrings and you choose to let it remain in front of your new home, how long is the appropriate amount of time to leave this temporary memorial in place? What about next year when the anniversary of this person's passing comes around and the surviving friends and relatives feel it necessary to adorn the roadside with more plastic decorations? Are you obligated to let them place these items at your house year after year?

These mourners are not there on a daily basis to view the structure and undoubtedly, this person has a gravestone that truly marks his or her final resting place. If someone were to die at home in bed, no sane person would build a memorial to the deceased in the midst of the bedroom and thus force others to bear witness to their loss.

I guess I lean toward the side of removing this clutter from the yard. But that is just my humble opinion. What do you think? Would you remove the items and come off like the old man yelling at the kids to stay off his grass, or would you become the eternal caretaker and tend to the memorial as your own?

In an interesting turn of events, as I drove home from work today, the cross had been removed. We shall see if it returns.

 

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