Country singer Alan Jackson, third from right, posted this photograph on social media in 2015 showing Mary Anne Gallant of Auburn, left, watching him perform in Portland from a special seat on stage. Alan Jackson photo

Wowed by his tattooed image on an Auburn grandmother’s back, singer Alan Jackson in 2015 sat Mary Anne “Marie” Gallant on stage for a better-than-front-row-view during his Keepin’ it Country tour concert in Portland.

With the audience roaring its approval, Jackson even danced a bit with her while singing his hit “Remember When.”

After the show, Jackson commented on Facebook that he “had a great time bringing Mary Anne on stage” and urged fans to “take a look” at her tattoo in an accompanying photograph.

“Now that’s country,” he added.

Gallant, who died last year, called that night the happiest of her life.

Now her daughter hopes this week to fulfill another of her mother’s dreams.


Eight years ago, in a Sun Journal story about Gallant’s role as the “hostess with the mostest” at Denny’s restaurant in Auburn, Gallant said, “When I die, I want my ashes spread over Alan Jackson’s house.”

Sue Castle of Gardiner said Monday that she is flying to Nashville on Tuesday with her mother’s ashes and a vague plan to drop them from a helicopter, wing them over a fence, “throw them out the window as I‘m driving by” or, best of all, secure someone’s blessing to spread them in a chosen spot.

Mary Anne Gallant is photographed in 2014 as she greet friends at Denny’s restaurant in Auburn. Her daughter plans to spread her ashes on the grounds of Alan Jackson’s home in Nashville. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file

It would be a fitting end for a superfan who saw Jackson in concert two dozen times, had two license plates touting her love for the singer, put framed posters of the singer on her walls, and kept a life-size cutout of him in her room for years, hauling it around hospitals during her final years as she battled cancer of her tonsils.

“She was so obsessed with him,” Castle said.

Jackson, 63, is one of the bestselling singers ever, with more than 75 million albums sold and two Grammys. He is in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Castle said she’s not sure why her mother adored Jackson as much as she did. But, she said, Gallant always played country music in their home and spent decades checking out local bands as well.


The ashes Castle is hauling to Nashville weren’t easy to come by.

When her mother died in May 2021, she said, someone sealed her remains into a body bag and took them to the Lewiston-based Affordable Cremation Solution, a troubled establishment shut down by the state a month later because it had been stacking bodies in an unrefrigerated basement for weeks.

Castle learned of the problem when she got a call from the state Medical Examiner’s Office informing her that it had recovered her mother’s body.

“What? Why?” she asked before learning the horrible truth of what had occurred.

Castle said that first she felt filled with rage about medical decisions that precipitated her 80-year-old mother’s death and the abuse of her remains, but ultimately decided “to let it go.”

“We need to put it in the past. We can’t change what happened,” Castle said.


She said that two weeks after her mother died, the family held a celebration of life that included many photographs of the busy, beloved woman at the center of so much of its life for years. Prominently featured among the pictures was the life-size Alan Jackson cutout and another one, made specially for the occasion — of Gallant herself. The two stood side by side among the snapshots.

Country singer Alan Jackson dances on stage in 2015 with Mary Anne Gallant of Auburn during his Keepin’ it Country concert tour in Portland. Screenshot from video

Castle said that if she could talk to Jackson, she would tell him, “Thank you for giving my mom the best day of her life” and providing so much joy to her. She remembered her mother phoning her after the concert “just screaming” with happiness.

Castle has designed a small display with a 1965 Mustang, a car Gallant appreciated, and a tiny figure at its wheel that looks like her mother. It has pictures, too, of Gallant and Jackson.

Castle said she may try to get Jackson’s AJ’s Good Time Bar in Nashville to put the piece on display to honor his big fan in Maine.

Castle said her mother set the standard, working at multiple jobs most of her life and never ceasing to approach life with gusto.

“She was a hoot,” her daughter said, and not even cancer and other medical woes could slow her.


“She was the strongest woman I’ve ever known,” Castle said, and despite living paycheck to paycheck she never let life get her down. “She was always full of life.”

Castle said she is looking forward to trying this week to fulfill her mother’s last wishes during a whirlwind four days in Nashville that will give her a chance to put the trauma of the cremation behind her.

“I’m hoping it’s going to mend all that crap,” Castle said.

Efforts to reach Jackson or his publicist Monday were unsuccessful.

Comments are no longer available on this story