A mom and dad living every parent's worst nightmare found comfort keeping their son's silly spirit alive by decorating his gravestone with a skeleton half sticking out of the ground.
But the Wohle family said the commissioners of their son's Francestown, New Hampshire, cemetery have removed it three times — most recently leaving the bones in the trash shed.
"I felt like they crossed a line," Christina Wohle said.
Cole Wohle was only 18 when he died, from sudden cardiac arrest, according his parents, and it's "been an incredibly sad three years since placing him here," his mother said at Francestown Cemetery, a short drive from the family's farm.
"He was just larger than life," said Rob Wohle, Cole's father. "His spirit and everything about him."
In their world of sadness, they've found joy in the most unexpected way.
"His brother and I were shopping and we found this skeleton with a smiling face," Christina said.
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Some might call the skeleton decoration they placed on Cole's headstone morbid, but his parents say it couldn't be more fitting for their 6'7" cowboy — his gravestone shows him riding a bucking horse — who was quick with a smile and lived for a good laugh.
"I could just see it, he would be smiling about us putting those bones there, it was just so him," Rob said.
Now, all that left of the skeleton is the head and a cowboy hat. The Wohles tell us the cemetery commissioners keep taking it down, three times in fact.
The family says the last time, they found the bones in the trash shed.
She and her husband are mostly frustrated that they have not yet been contacted by the commissioners directly.
"I think some simple kindness is all it would've taken and that was missed in this whole situation," Christina said.
The commissioners have never contacted the family directly, but told the local newspaper that the decorations violated cemetery policy and interfered with landscaping. The Wohles don't buy it.
"Obviously, there's not any grass to mow," Christina pointed out.
NBC10 Boston has reached out to get a comment from the Francestown Cemetery Commission but we haven't yet heard back.
Town Administrator Jamie Pike tells us he has no personal opinion on the matter and that he has no jurisdiction over the decisions made by the cemetery commission.
The family says the decoration is keeping their son's silly spirit alive, and they're hoping to get the go ahead to put the skeleton back.
"To be able to have a smile with him, enjoy life a little bit with him — knowing Halloween and how important it was to him — is very important to our family," Rob said.
"It made me feel like I was imparting his happiness and joy that he shared so freely with people, that I was carrying on his legacy in a way," Christina added.