Father's Dying Wish A Real Hassle

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Issue 3818

Routine, Affordable Medical Procedure Put Off Another Year

WEBSTER GROVES, MO—Three years after being diagnosed with a benign rectal polyp, Webster Groves resident William Schraft continues to put off its removal, insisting that there is no need to undergo the routine, affordable procedure right this minute. "The doctor said it was benign, so what's the big rush?" the 54-year-old Schraft said Monday. "I can barely feel it most days anyway. It's probably shrinking."

Producer Wants To Call Movie Crime And Punishment Anyway

LOS ANGELES—Upon learning that the title has already been taken, Hollywood producer Andrew Shuler announced Monday that he wants to call his upcoming Universal Pictures police thriller Crime And Punishment anyway. "There is?" said Shuler, moments after being told of the classic Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel that shares its name with his upcoming Val Kilmer-Wesley Snipes vehicle. "I don't really see that as a problem. What 18- to 34-year-old has ever heard of that?" Shuler said he is confident he will be able to "buy out this Russian guy."

Christian Weightlifter Bends Iron Bar To Show Power Of God's Love

TULSA, OK—Before 11,000 attendees at a "He Is Risen Rally" at Mabee Center, Christian weightlifter Michael Brighton bent a two-inch-thick iron bar Monday, clearly demonstrating the power of God's love within the heart and body of His followers. "Do you see the power of faith and belief?" said the 255-pound Brighton following the impressive feat of spiritual prowess. "Only a strong personal relationship with my Creator could have made this possible." Brighton went on to demonstrate God's hatred of ice blocks and wooden boards.

Burglary Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Judging from the look on your face, I'm guessing you're offended. But please don't take my presence here in your home as a personal affront. When I sneaked into your home under cover of darkness after disarming your security system, feeding the guard dogs a sedative, and climbing to the second-story window with a grappling hook and rope, I never intended to insult you. In fact, my intention was just the opposite. I mean, what is burglary, after all, if not the sincerest form of flattery?

Woman Forced To Converse Awkwardly With Bank-Promotion Clown

AUGUSTA, ME—While waiting to meet with a Kennebec Savings Bank mortgage officer Monday, Danielle Smales, 34, was forced to make stilted conversation with Thrifty The Banking Clown. "Just waiting for a meeting," Smales told the brochure-wielding promotional clown. "No, thanks. I don't really need Platinum checking." Though Smales managed to briefly steer the conversation toward the weather, a majority of the eight-minute chat centered on the importance of a sensible IRA, the convenience of online banking at KennebecSavings.com, and the great introductory rates available with a Kennebec Savings Visa card.

U.S. Protests Mexi-Canadian Overpass

WASHINGTON, DC—After nearly nine years of construction, the Mexi-Canadian Overpass, the controversial $4.3 trillion highway overpass linking Guadalupe and Winnipeg, was finally completed last week, drawing harsh criticism from U.S. citizens and officials alike.

Ask Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver is a syndicated columnist whose weekly advice column, Ask Raymond Carver, appears in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.

Star Wars Mania

Star Wars: Episode II–Attack Of The Clones finally hits theatres this Thursday.
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Local Household Announces Plans To Overdo Halloween Again

HIGHLAND PARK, IL—Having hauled over a dozen boxes of lights and plastic decorations as well as a large black-cat-shaped lawn inflatable from storage, members of the Hutchcroft family announced to neighbors from their front yard Thursday their plan to completely overdo Halloween again this year.

Father's Dying Wish A Real Hassle

HARRISON, TN—The last wish of Gerard Sumlin, who died last month at 68, is "a real pain in the ass," his children reported Monday.

The grave of Gerard Sumlin (inset), who asked that his children do this whole big pain-in-the-ass lilac-planting job.

"On his deathbed, Dad asked us to make sure there were always beautiful lilac bushes on the side of his sister Helen's house," said daughter Monica Torres, 42. "We were all crying and swore we would. But I guess we weren't really thinking about what a huge hassle it would be."

Added Torres: "I don't know anything about planting lilacs. What if we do it wrong, and they die? Then we'd have to do the whole thing again next year. Why couldn't he have just asked for us to spread his ashes in his favorite park or something?"

Sumlin made the request on April 13, upon being admitted to St. Peter's Hospital in Chattanooga after suffering a massive heart attack. His children were only able to spend a few moments with him before he died.

"Dad wasn't very lucid because of all the drugs," said son David Sumlin, 39. "At one point, he grabbed my hand and made me promise that Monica and I would plant the lilacs. In the moment, it seemed like a small request, but now that we actually have to follow through on it, that's a whole other story."

According to David, Sumlin was once extremely close to his sister Helen. As children, the siblings used to spend a lot of time playing under the family's lilac bush. However, a bitter fight over family finances drove the two apart as young adults, and they never reconciled.

"I understand Dad wanting to plant the lilacs as a gesture of peace toward Aunt Helen," Torres said. "It just sucks that David and I have to do all the work. Dad's not going to have to slave outside in the hot sun and get his hands dirty, but he gets to die with a clean conscience. Sounds like a win-win situation for him."

Monica and David grudgingly browse the lilac bushes at J&C Nursery in Harrison.

At the time of their father's death, David and Monica said they would be "more than happy" to plant the lilacs, but time and reflection on the work involved have changed their stance.

"You don't think about those things when your father is on his deathbed, but I don't know if I can afford to throw away an entire Saturday on this," David said. "I've had to work the last three weekends at the office, so my wife isn't exactly thrilled about the idea of me spending my first Saturday off in a month planting flowers for some woman I barely know."

Neither David nor Monica has ever had any real contact with Aunt Helen, making the lilac planting, slated for this weekend, an awkward one.

"I remember Mom pointed her out at Cousin Henry's funeral 20 years ago," David said. "It's kind of weird, not really knowing this woman at all and then calling her up and saying, 'Your estranged brother is dead; when can we bring over this bush?' Couldn't we just donate money to some charity in Dad's name instead?"

The request, Monica said, would have been easier to take if the preparations for her father's funeral hadn't already taken up so much of her time.

"I had to take three days off from work just to get the funeral arranged," she said. "There was the notice of death for the newspaper, the insurance, picking out a casket, coordinating an after-funeral gathering, getting a church and organist, talking to the Army because Dad's a veteran, and so on. I'm just getting over all the shit I had to do for the funeral, and now I have to deal with this."

Dreading the lilac-bush planting, David said he will be happy when his final-request-fulfilling days are over.

"Monica and I have already made a pact not to do this to each other on our deathbeds," David said. "It's tough enough losing a loved one without also losing an entire day trying to find a garden center that sells the right kind of lilac bush and then having to haul the damn thing out to some strange woman's house way the hell out in McMinnville. That's not a dying wish, that's a dying chore."