One of the hardest days of Penny Menerey's life was when she decided to take her husband, Dave, off life support after almost a month in intensive care.
It was a private moment.
"I didn't allow anyone in there with me," said the Largo resident, softly crying at the memory.
Her sister in law and niece suggested Taylor Family Funeral Home in Pinellas Park to cremate Mr. Menerey. Mrs. Menerey borrowed $915 from her mother to pay the bill.
But when she went to the funeral home the next day, she got an unpleasant surprise. Her husband's body was not there. Mrs. Menerey was told she'd need to pay another $175 to see her husband.
"I didn't want a viewing. I just wanted to see him," Mrs. Menerey said. "They said something about transporting him or something. … I thought, well, I guess the last time I saw him was when he died."
Now Mrs. Menerey is suing the funeral home, claiming she was subjected to severe intentional emotional distress that included embarrassment, humiliation, mental anguish and loss of dignity.
Ed Taylor, owner of the funeral home and a Pinellas Park City Council member, declined to comment on the allegations, saying his insurance company is handling the defense.
"They feel that there's nothing there and that's why they're choosing to represent us," Taylor said. "They were rather surprised (that it was filed). "
Mrs. Menerey met her husband in Flint, Mich., when they both worked for General Motors. It was not a case of love at first sight.
"Well, I didn't like him for a long time. He was my boss and I didn't like him then," she said. "I always went for the wrong ones. The bad boys."
That changed when she took advice from a radio commentator to look for a different kind of guy.
"We talked and it was great," she said. "That was when I didn't work for him. It was much better when he wasn't my boss."
They married in June 1991. Jobs were eliminated until, in 2009, "they told us, either you retire or you don't have a job."
They moved in January 2010 into a mobile home they'd bought in Largo and where Dave showed he was definitely not one of the "bad boys."
"He was really a nice guy. We live in an older community, and anybody who needed help, he could help them. He could fix anything. He was a very, very nice guy," Mrs. Menerey said. "He did everything for me. He cooked. He sewed. Everything. When he died, you realized just how much he did. I've been living on peanut butter and jelly ever since."
Dave spent the days enjoying himself.
"He loved fishing. It took him a week to learn how to throw the net," Mrs. Menerey said. "He loved the gulf. … He said that could make his day, just walking on the beach."
And he loved to play pool. That final day, she dropped him off at the Veterans Hall in Seminole to play a game with her brother while she went to the mall. That's where she was when her brother called and said the paramedics were there, working on her husband.
"I said, 'Dick this isn't funny.' He said, 'I'm not kidding.' "
She met them at Largo Medical Center where Dave was moved to the intensive care unit.
That was April 28, 2011.
"Some doctors would say he's getting better. Some doctors would say you should let him go. It was awful. I was there every single day, all day long," she said.
She made the decision almost a month later on May 23, 2011.
"I let him go. His kidneys had stopped working. They had already done so much to him that," her voice trailed off as she began crying. "I let him go. … It was a long, awful process."
She thought she would have one last chance to see him, but that was not to be.
"I had to borrow the money from my mom for the cremation,'' she said. "I didn't want to ask for more.''
Mrs. Menerey said she was so stunned she simply shut down. All she remembers is being told that the extra charge had "something to do with transporting him.
"I didn't want anybody else to see him. I just wanted to see him myself," Mrs. Menerey said. "I would have gone anywhere to see him."
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.