This is a strange story to write, but it fascinates us. In 1981, a boy dreamt of one day owning a Mercedes-Benz. His name was Raymond, after his father, and he lived in New Jersey with his apparently quite loving family. His older brother, David, was very successful in business having already become a millionaire at a young age. There was apparently a bond between the two as David made Raymond a promise: when he turned 16 and qualified for a driver’s license, David would buy him a Mercedes-Benz.
Brothers joke around with one another all the time, so it’s anyone’s guess whether this promise was made in earnest. What happened instead, however, contains an element of tragedy. For some reason that we can’t quite discern because of conflicting information, the young boy, Raymond, passed away at age 15 in 1981. Some web sites say that he fell ill. Others say that there was a car collision. However it happened, the family received a terrible blow.
Despite the grief that this family must have been feeling, David decided that there was one last thing he had to do for his brother. He commissioned a headstone that would honor Raymond in a way that nothing else could. David ordered a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 240 Diesel limousine to be fashioned entirely from a single block of granite from Barre, Vermont. To do this, it took a team of three full-time stonecutters one and a half years to complete. They started with a 66-ton slab of granite and eventually refined it to the 36-ton finished piece. The replica is accurate in every detail aside from side mirrors and hood ornament, which were omitted to deter theft.
There are no other markings to distinguish the massive, utterly unique headstone. The sole distinguishing marks to its purpose are the license plates which read, “RAY TSE,” the boy’s name. The headstone is reputed to have cost at least $250,000 at the time.
We bring up this story because it’s a beautiful tribute from one family member to another. It speaks volumes about the love between the siblings, and creates a clear sense of the timelessness of their relationship. It also makes us think about the rituals we have for thinking about loved ones who are deceased. We can only hope that we too will honor those whom we love, and show love more clearly.