When we hear the name Judy Garland, most think of sparkling red slippers and rainbows, the tin man and a scarecrow skipping about made of straw. Not skeletal remains and graves.
Writing a book, I have been distracted from posting on my blog but, last night with cheesy macaroni dropping into my cleavage, I stopped the spoon feeding when I saw Judy Garland’s face flash upon my plasma.
Judy Garland’s remains have been exhumed… the news reporter announced. Seated upright, I raced to my office. I absolutely had to write about my love for celebrity deaths and exhumations. If you’re not entirely sure what an exhumation entails, put simply; it’s digging up a dead body from its resting place. This is done to retrieve further evidence or to transport the remains to a new grave. In some cultures an exhumation is a celebration! Digging up the bones and dressing them in silk parading the skeleton around like a piñata to celebrate the dead. I could write about the exhumation for days! (Another book perhaps?)
I will never forget assisting my very first exhumation. The grass twinkled with frost and with opening hours between 6AM and 5PM, the headstones were shadows in the thick fog of dawn. In our high-vi’s glowing like the sunrise we jumped out of the van with our shovels and began attacking the grave like grave diggers in search of jewels. It wasn’t riches we were sifting through soil for – we were in search of remains of a man buried thirty years ago. When Robert was buried, this particular cemetery did not offer “double plots.” This is when loved ones request to be buried together in the same grave, commonly on top of one another. Three decades later, Simon had passed, and his dying wish was that his brother could join him in his resting place. So shovel to soil, we were instructed to retrieve Robert so he could be layed to rest with his sibling.
The burial, again, is a whole other story! What happens to the body once it’s lowered six feet, the underground water currents swishing bodies about like a Caeser salad and the fees and regulations involved with purchasing a grave!
Back to the story of raising the dead…
By law, when exhuming a dead body, we must retrieve all remnants of the corpse which is sometimes piles and piles of soil! Bone fragments are all over the place like a jigsaw puzzle which results in a very stinky funeral home! The morning of my first exhumation the funeral home smelt like a fart in a car. There was no escaping it. The stench from the remains was far worse than any decomposed case I had been called to! And here I was, thinking burial was beautiful! More like rotten compost! Heaving into the sleeve of my funeral director suit, I gathered the bits and pieces and wrapped them in thick plastic we call Bio Seal.
I could smell the corpse on me for days. The stench weeped from my pores and hair follicles but when I laid down to sleep that night, I felt at peace that I had reunited the siblings. I had helped the world in some small way.
So, when I discovered that Judy Garland had been exhumed, I dropped my bowl of macaroni and dived into my desk chair, flicking on my computer to find out why!
And it seems, the beauty who once clapped her heels together in hopes of heading back to Kansas, was finally (no pun intended) heading home.
The Wizard of Oz actress had been buried in a mausoleum in Hartsdale, New York following her death at age forty-seven. But Garland’s body had now been exhumed – forty eight years after her death – and transferred to Los Angeles, California.
The decision came at the request of her daughter. Garland’s daughter is understood to have wanted her mother moved to another plot where there would be room for plots for her children. The daughter of the Wizard of Oz Princess in twinkling heels wanted to be buried with her mum – but the plot in New York had no extra space.
So the decision was taken to move her remains to the famous “Hollywood Forever” Cemetery.
I found some comfort in this news report. I realised, as my fluffy Maltese licked macaroni from my Peter Alexanders, that we truly are, all the same. Yes, some may sparkle in diamonte studded heels and soak in golden bathtubs but at the end of the day, we will all end up as a rotting corpse in the ground or bone fragments in an urn.
Hey! Don’t let me stop you from being glamorous! I just hope that when you click those sparkly heels and sip that Espresso Martini, you remember, that you really are no different to Anna Nicole, Michael Jackson or the Beauty of Wizard of Oz.
Which could be, if you think about for it a moment, a pretty awesome thought.