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Why Do We Have To Respect The Dead?

Claudia Rodriguez, Texas, USA
July 1999

My mother is from Mexico, and told me this story, which occured to my grandmother's cousin, in response to my question,"Why do we have to respect the dead?" note: This occured in a ranch town with an old, crumbling cemetery.

My grandmother's cousin was named Juan. He was to marry a lovely young woman named Natalia. But, three weeks before the wedding, Juan's great aunt died. He went to the burial, greatly saddened because of his aunt's death, but also very giddy because of his impending marriage. He fell behind his family as they were walking out of the cemetery. He noticed a skull at the side of an old grave. Juan kicked it and told it, "Hey, why don't you come to my wedding?" and ran away happily.

Three weeks later, Juan married Natalia in a beautiful ceremony. As he was entering the church, however, Juan noticed a figure, completely dressed in black (including a veil) sitting in the last pew. He didn't give it much thought. At the reception, he noticed the same figure, now sitting at the last table. He asked his sister Marina to offer the figure refreshments. Marina did, and reported that the figure was a woman and that she didn't want anything. When the sun began to set, the figure got up and approached Juan. She told him that since he had invited her, that he had to take her home. Juan got scared, went up to the priest and told him about the mysterious figure. The priest advised him to take a baby with him, and to give the woman a ride home. The priest also told Juan that he was to keep the baby with him at all time, no matter what the woman said. Juan then picked up Marina's baby daughter, and headed towards the veiled woman. "It is time for me to take you home," he said. The lady glanced at the baby that he was carrying and shook her head. "You cannot bring this child with you," she declared. Juan shrugged,
"The baby is very attached to me, and wont stay with anyone else.
The woman shook her head, but said, "That is fine."

Juan lead the lady to his car, and began to drive. The lady began to give him explicit directions to her domicile. She ordered him to stop at the cemetery. She got out of the car, and motioned Juan to follow her. He did, still carrying the baby. The woman turned to Juan and told him, "You really don't remember me, do you?" Juan shook his head. The woman lead him to a grave. "A while ago, you came to this place and disturbed my peace,' the woman said. "I was going to take you into my grave with me, so you could suffer the punishment, but I cannot, for you have an innocent with you. You must learn to respect the dead," she continued. And with that, she stepped on the grave and removed her veil. Her face was a bare skull. Juan screamed and ran out of the cemetery and into his car. When he got back to the car, he drove quickly, and within a few days, he and his wife left the ranch for good.

My mom says that Juan and Natalia had a good life, but that Juan never forgot his experience and continued to share his story.

Claudia Rodriguez, Texas, USA
00:00 / 01:04
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