In life grandmother Lesley Emerson was a prolific texter, never more than an SMS away from her nearest and dearest.
So when she lost her battle with cancer at the age of 59, her family decided to bury her with her mobile phone as a way of commemorating something they loved about her.
To ease their grief they even sent her text messages with all the family news.
But nothing could have prepared them for what was about to happen.
Lesley Emerson was buried with her mobile phone when she died so her family could text her as a way of dealing with their grief. But Sheri Emerson (pictured with her uncle Graham Emerson) received a reply which said: I'm watching over you.'
The mysterious reply came more than three years after Mrs Emerson's death, despite O2 promising to put the phone number out of service
Mrs Emerson, from South Shields, died from bowel cancer in July 2011 at the age of 59
Three years after Mrs Emerson had passed away in 2011, her granddaughter Sheri’s blood ran cold when she received a return message.
‘I’m watching over you, you’ll get through this, you’ll be all right,’ the text read.
Miss Emerson, 22, a care worker from South Shields, South Tyneside, said: ‘I felt sick when I read it, I was in shock.
‘Obviously we know that Nan wasn’t going to ever reply, it was just something we did as a comfort for ourselves because she loved to text.’
She also received another message which read: ‘I’m watching over you and it’s all going to get better. Just push through.’
'I'm watching over you, you'll get thought this, you'll be all right': Ms Emerson (left) received the reply a day after she sent a text to her dead grandmother (right)
After Lesley, pictured with her sons John and Graham (right), died, network provider O2 promised the number she used would not be passed on to a new customer - but it was recycled and given to another phone user
So Miss Emerson decided to investigate, and sent a response demanding to know who was responsible.
Eventually she received an apology from a man who had been given Mrs Emerson’s number a few weeks previously when he signed up to mobile operator Giffgaff.
He said he had started to receive texts from unknown phone numbers, and thought they were hoaxes from friends.
To join in the fun, he responded – not realising the upset they were causing.
After Mrs Emerson passed away, her son John said he received assurances from O2 that his mother’s number would never be used again.
Mr Emerson, from Whitburn, South Tyneside, said: ‘We are a big family of texters. If we ever fell out or had something to say, we’d always send a message – that’s why we buried her with her phone.
‘I can’t bear to visit Mum’s graveside. For me it is a way to still feel connected to her. So to think someone else now has our Mam’s number is just awful. We can’t believe O2 has done this.’
O2 said that when a number is disconnected, it is placed in a general pool for reuse and this should’ve been explained.
O2 is now liaising with Giffgaff to try to retrieve the number for the family.
As for the prankster, no one answered the phone yesterday.
Graham rang his mother's phone and spoke to a man who had been using the number for the last few weeks
Mrs Emerson was buried in Harton Cemetery, South Shields, alongside her favourite possessions
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2795280/i-m-watching-family-s-shock-receiving-text-messages-mobile-buried-late-grandmother-02-gave-number-new-customer.html#ixzz3GNVNmd8i
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