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donna headstone 2donna headstone 1

Did you spot it? The difference between the headstones?

It’s Donna’s date of birth, specifically her year of birth. It’s been switched. On a 2 tonne gravestone.

How the hell did it happen?

That’s what her grieving husband and sons would like to know.

Here’s their story.


John Tyson is a knockabout bloke who grew up in Toowoomba, your average working class lad come good, who at 16 hooked up with the 14-year-old girl he fell deeply in love with, and stayed with for the next 30 years. Until death them did part.

He’s my mate John, I’ll disclose it up front, one of the best blokes I’ve ever met, and one of those rare as hen’s teeth honest men. I love the guy, and I love his son Blake too, a little ripper of a man who’s been through hell and back over the past 5 years, and come out bruised and battered but with his giant-sized inner goodness intact. The pair of them are just dead set crackers, the types of blokes that any Aussie would be proud to call their mate.

During their three decades together John and Donna loved each other with a passion that would put Romeo and Juliet in the shade. A laid back pair, shy buggers, they never bothered getting married, for what’s a piece of paper to a couple who’ve had four boys together, and pledged in their teens to be each other’s forever? Who cared about marriage? They were one, and later they became many. Donna, John and the boys. Tight as, the quintessential Aussie family.


Head down, asses up, eyes focused only on their family and on achieving the great Australian dream, John and Donna worked hard, saved hard, and by putting their noses to the grindstone and clutching their future in their own hands, they made it. Nice cars, big house, a thriving business, a bit of money in the bank. They were as happy as Larry, and happier again.

Along the way they used to playfully joke and jest, as all rock solid couples do, and from the early days of their marriage Donna used to tell John that if she died before him she wanted him to make sure that he buried her 10 years younger, because she didn’t want people walking past her grave and thinking she was old.

Over the years, and as the little of signs of aging slowly appeared – a wrinkle here, a grey hair there – Donna continued to tell John that she wanted him to bury her 10 years younger if she died before him, and he came to realise that it was not a joke at all, but instead Donna’s instructions to him and her burial wishes.

On many occasions she even made him solemnly vow that he’d do as she asked, and John promised her he would uphold her wishes. He crossed his fingers and swore it. In light-hearted moments he even fell to his knees and clasped his hands and promised upon his life and that of their children that he would do what she had asked him to do so many hundreds of times.

If Donna died first, John swore, he would bury her 10 years younger, come hell or high water.

And then the high water came, and hell gushed in with it, and Donna died, and so did John’s son Jordan, the bravest young bloke Australia ever knew.

John’s the type of bloke who keeps his promises. So he did, following the instructions that Donna given him so many times over their three decades locked together as one.

He switched the year of birth on her gravestone. Changed it from 1967 – the actual year of her birth – to 1976. He made her 10 years younger, so she wouldn’t die an old woman.


As he ordered the headstone he smiled for the first time in months, feeling Donna and Jordan’s warmth shining down on him, and seeing their beautiful smiles beaming up in heaven above. How much he missed them, how much he wanted them back, how much he’ give to be doing anything else in the world, anything, but there he was, ordering a gravestone for his wife and his 13-year-old boy.

He’d done it. He done what Donna had asked, he’d done her proud. It was the final act. Closure. A few weeks before he’d suffered the near unbearable anguish of burying his wife and son, and now he was sealing their grave, erecting a monument to their memory that would last for all time.

Or so he thought.

He didn’t know – he couldn’t have known –  that soon, like a thief in the night, a phantom would come along and once more tear away he and Blake’s peace, steal away their dreams again, and smash their slowly healing broken hearts into a million more pieces.

One day John received a phone call. It was from Martin Wagner, the owner of J.H. Wagner and Sons, the stonemasons that had carved and erected Donna and Jordan’s headstone. Their office was located just up the road from the cemetery where the mother and her brave son lay in eternal rest.


Martin Wagner told John that two women had arrived on his office doorstep, and they were complaining that Donna’s gravestone had been incorrectly carved, and demanding that the date of birth on her inscription be amended.

Although Wagner did not tell him the women’s names, John suspected that one of them was Donna’s long estranged sister, whom she had not spoken to in more than a decade. It didn’t matter who they were though, even if they were the Virgin Mary and Mother Theresa themselves, under no circumstances whatsoever was John going to disrespect his beloved Donna’s wishes by changing her headstone, and that is exactly what he told Wagner.

He explained his pact with Donna to Wagner, and the promise that he’d made to her, and instructed the stonemason that under no circumstances whatsoever was anyone to lay a finger on marble headstone that marked his lost wife and son’s grave.

“It’s my wife and my child in that grave. The stone stays exactly 100% as it is Martin” he told Wagner.

“Nothing is to change”.

And that he thought, was the end of that. After all, he was the rights holder of the plot, and the next of kin, and it was him who had lovingly designed and then ordered the heartfelt memorial to those he loved and had lost. He was the one who had made the promise to his true love, and he was the one who was going to keep it.

About a month later John and Blake, who had left Toowoomba after a terrible series of events (that I will relate at another time), drove up the highway from their new home at the Gold Coast, stopped at the Minden florist on the way and bought a couple of dozen roses to take to Donna and Jordan’s. A dozed red and a dozen yellow, the keen rose grower Donna’s favourite colours.

With hearts still heavy they ascended the familiar range, rising up the mountain down which the waters once gushed, washing away their family and with them the carefree, joy-filled lives they once knew.

They pulled into the cemetery, parked their car, and walked solemnly toward their lost loved ones grave. Then suddenly, as one, stopped dead in their tracks, as if frozen in time.

Blake screamed. John shouted and swore. Then they fell to their knees, broke down in tears, and wailed at the cruel sky.

Donna and Jordan’s grave top was barren.

Their headstone was gone.

To be continued

Editors note: This is not a balanced journalistic article. It is a bloke from Geebung telling his mate’s side of a bloody terrible tale. No attempt has been made at this point to get the other side of the story.