ST PETERSBURG, Fla. - For Willease Johnson, losing her daughter was bad enough.
Rena Carlisle died suddenly two years ago.
It was one day after her 51st birthday.
She left behind a grieving mother, two adult children and five grandchildren.
"It still hurts because she left me so quick," Johnson said. "I didn't even get a chance to say tell her goodbye. I didn't know she was that sick."
Johnson and her daughter talked daily.
"She called me sugar mama," she said. "She would pick up the phone and say, hey sugar mama! I’d say what's up, and she'd say, you're too old to be saying what's up, you don't answer me like that."
Those are moments Johnson says she’ll never forget.
While the memory of her daughter lives in her heart, her grave is still without the headstone Johnson paid for.
The receipt shows the $600 cost and there's not balance, yet Johnson alls Creal Funeral Home often to complain.
"I call at least once a month, and these last two times I called he didn't even return my call," she said.
The expected delivery date was six to eight weeks. Johnson used the same company for her husband's funeral and his marker is there.
Now every visit to the cemetery is a search for her daughter's grave.
"I always have to go to the office and they come out and show me where it is," she said. "I don't know where my baby is."
It was hidden near some grass.
E-32, a numbered grave. No flowers, crosses or a marker.
"To me it’s like they just threw her out here and everyone forgot about her, and we haven't forgotten about her," she said.
Funeral home responds
Lean Thomas, an assistant to funeral home founder Robert L. Creal Sr., said the original granite marker didn't match the others in the cemetery so It had to be reordered in bronze.
Thomas said the marker would be up by Dec. 22.
As to the two year delay, Thomas said the work to lay the markers down took longer than expected, adding that the delay wasn't intentional and that sometimes there are complications with markers that are beyond their control.
"He's always giving me a promise but it never works," Johnson said.
But now she’s hopeful the funeral home will finish the job.
"I’ve asked him before, if that was your child and someone was treating her that way, how would you feel about that," she said. "He told me he understood. But if you understand why can't you do better?"
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