There’s a tragic story doing the rounds of the papers concerning a lad in Scotland whose father buried him in the garden of his ex-council semi.
Robert Milloy, known to all as Boab, (18) was hit by a train as he walked across a level crossing near his home.
His father, Robert, is quoted as saying “I just want him to be close to us. I couldn’t let my boy be taken away … I hope people don’t think it’s disrespectful.” He’s going to plant a twisted willow on the grave and surround it with a bench made from tractor seats (his boy was a farm worker).
There are, I think, a number of interesting features to this story.
First, Boab’s father followed the logic of his heart with what seem to be both singlemindedness and a most engaging lack of self-consciousness.
Second, the neighbours did not raise a clamour about it.
Third, the council advised Mr Milloy with complete propriety. They made no difficulties. They told him to make sure the grave did not interfere with underground pipes and cables. They advised him to have a word with his neighbours. They also advised him to record the burial site in his title deeds as a courtesy to future owners of the house.
Fourth, the reporting of the case in papers like the Scottish Sun and the Daily Mail did not, uncharacteristically, sensationalise the case or paint it as outlandish. On the contrary, their accounts are simple, hushed and touching, and could only have left readers thinking (of Mr Milloy) “Good for you, mate.”
Of course, the logic of Mr Milloy’s heart is the logic of many other people’s hearts, but he had the courage of his. Could he had got away with what he did five, ten years ago without an outcry? Without officialdom throwing difficulties in his way? Probably not.
If Mr Milloy’s time has come, let us be thankful.
As for Mr Milloy himself, a dad who’s lost his boy, and for Mrs Milloy, a mum who’s lost her son, and for all those who loved Boab, I am sure we hold them in our hearts.