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Lynn rejects headstone with F-word

LYNN – “Inappropriate language,” including the F-word, is not welcome in Pine Grove Cemetery.Cemetery commissioners this week rejected a local family’s request Tuesday to inscribe their son’s grave stone with a verse that, commissioners said, includes two examples of profanity.But Sonny Santiago’s mother and sister-in-law said city officials misunderstood their plans, adding they never intended to have profanity carved on the 23-year-old’s headstone.”I’m not doing nothing but taking care of my son,” said Santiago’s mother, Ana DeJesus.Sonny Santiago died in an Essex Street motor vehicle accident on Feb. 23 and Ruggiero Funeral Home of East Boston oversaw the 23-year-old Fayette Street resident’s burial in Pine Grove in March.His family’s request to honor Santiago’s memory with a 3-foot-tall monument inscribed with a verse prompted Woodlawn Memorials, the monument maker solicited by the family, to pass the verse’s wording onto cemetery commissioners.”You gonna remember the damn name, I give a f? if I die with no damn friends, I got my fam by my side and that’s until the end,” read the inscription included on a drawing of Santiago’s monument sent by Woodlawn to commissioners.Commissioners approved commissioner Richard Fortucci’s motion to prohibit “any and all inappropriate language” on Santiago’s headstone and Dulong said it will be Woodlawn’s responsibility to inform Santiago’s family of the commission’s decision.”We are saying no to the F-word, no to inappropriate language,” said Commission Chairman Arthur Dulong before commissioners voted 6-0 to deny the request.Pine Grove Cemetery regulations posted online state that “the cemetery office must approve all inscription work on monuments.””We’ve never had a problem like this before,” Dulong said.Santiago’s sister-in-law, Angela Ventola, said city officials contacted her family about the inscription and family members agreed to have Santiago’s gravestone inscribed with a different, profanity-free verse from a song he wrote.”Everything got changed. Those words are not going on,” Ventola said.The sketch of Santiago’s monument sent to the commission by Woodlawn indicates his family wanted the black granite monument carved in the shape of a “1” – Uno in Spanish – with the inscription carved at the base of the number.On the back of the monument, Santiago’s family asked Woodlawn to inscribe a 12-line poem titled, “To Mom,” and ending with the words, “I love you Ma.” Commissioners did not raise concerns about the poem’s wording during Tuesday’s meeting.Jenny Tejada, a neighbor of Santiago’s mother, said Santiago enjoyed rapping and used “Uno” as a performance name.”He was a great guy. He obviously touched people’s hearts in different ways,” she said.The commission and Santiago’s family are also at odds over a 3-foot by 8-foot decoration on his gravesite shaped like the number “1” and made from mulch and rocks.Commissioners on Tuesday approved cemetery commissioner and Public Works Commissioner Manuel Alcantara’s motion to send Santiago’s family a letter directing them to remove the decoration within two weeks.Ventola pointed out that other grave sites in Pine Grove are decorated and said family members keep the grave site clean and enjoy eating lunch where Santiago is buried.Cemetery Assistant Superintendent Jeff Stowell said the design does not conform to cemetery rules and said he posted a warning letter about ground decoration on Santiago’s gravesite.DeJesus said she will comply with commission orders, but added:”I feel like we paid for the spot. We want to be with him. It’s not fair,” she said.Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

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