By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"At first, I was revolted, horrified!" says the attractive, 30-something redhead. "But the more I considered it, the more it appealed to me. My husband's remains were lost at sea, and all I have left of him was the fishing pole he was using when he went overboard. Then, when Marvin was electrocuted, I was afraid I'd grow old in a house full of photos of the two of them. This way, Marvin's always with me, and through him, his dad."
At Singer's home, Marvin's bedroom is just as it was when he died, filled with model airplanes, toys, plastic dinosaurs, crayons and coloring books. A pennant of his favorite team, the New York Yankees (the family hails from Long Island), is on the wall over his chest of drawers. In his little bed, Marvin lies as if asleep, draped in velvet, with flowers all around him. Singer brings out photos of one of her favorite mountings of her little boy (she paid extra to Preserve A Life so Marvin's body can be contorted to fit into several poses). One snapshot shows Marvin on a scooter, another has him wearing his Little League uniform with a big grin on his face as he's supposedly fielding a ground ball.
"As you can see from the pennant, that boy was a huge Yankees fan!" Singer muses, her eyes welling up. "He would have been so happy to see A-Rod come to the Yankees. I'm just grateful he didn't live to see that man slap that ball out of the Boston pitcher's hand the other night in the ALCS. It would have killed him to see a New York Yankee cheat to try to win a game."
She stops for a minute, looking particularly sad all of a sudden. Margaret says she keeps Marvin safe in his bed most of the time now for his own protection. "Initially, I wanted him on his scooter, in jeans and a tee shirt, as if he were playing, or in his baseball uniform. It reminded me of how it was before the tragedy. But our pet dachshund, Kipper, kept jumping up on him. I was afraid he'd become damaged. And when the neighborhood kids would see him in the uniform, they would naturally want to play ball with him. On one occasion, one of his teeth was broken when they hit him in the face with a pitch. Now I just keep him in his bed as my darling little Marvin."
She opted for a head-mounting, and a military burial for the remainder of the corpse paid for by the Corps. Renee confirms that Preserve A Life waived its $1,700 fee for the war hero. It was a good thing, too, that she chose the limited procedure, since Jeff Carson's body was mutilated when he stepped on a land mine while attempting to take an Iraqi child and a fellow Marine to safety during the first few days of the invasion. The mine blew him apart as he was holding the little girl in one arm and dragging his buddy with the other. The child was saved, but he and his buddy weren't so lucky. Both were awarded the Purple Heart posthumously, and Carson received the Medal of Honor. Wearing his camouflage hat and a stern expression, Jeff Carson's head is displayed on a living room wall next to his framed medals, a signed letter from President George W. Bush, and photos of the 20-year-old in and out of uniform.
"This is good enough for me, if I can't have him alive," says the proud mother. "Not only did Jeffy get the 21-gun salute, but he's here, next to his medals. I see him all the time. Sometimes, it seems like he's going to come right out of that wall and say, 'Mom, I love you!'"
For Leonard Scholl of Gilbert, verisimilitude was also a big part of having his new bride, Cynthia Scholl, humidermied. They'd only been married three days when Cynthia was impaled by a cast-iron pipe that had jostled loose from an 18-wheeler in front of them as they were making their way up the Pacific Coast Highway along the California coast. Driven by an intense desire to be with his beloved, Scholl gave Preserve A Life a call after seeing one of their ads, and they fulfilled Scholl's request to have the brown-eyed lass installed in his bedroom, wearing only her negligee.
"It's either this or suicide," says Scholl, glancing over at the provocative frame of his love, then removing a sheet to demonstrate what he considers Preserve A Life's superior job on his Cynthia.
"Our favorite time was Friday night. After work and dinner out, we would get comfortable, lie in bed and drink a glass or two of good Merlot before, well, you know. I still cherish that night of the week with her, and when I wake up the next morning, she's there beside me. As long as I can hold her hand in mine, I'll be happy."