Family looks to purchase headstone for mother who died of cancer

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - This Valentine’s Day is bittersweet for a Bakersfield woman who is desperately trying to honor someone she loved, her mother.  She’s hoping the Internet can help.

The family has struggled for years trying to come up with money to buy their deceased mother a headstone and now they’re hoping the internet can offer them new hope.

Priscilla Leal is determined to keep her mother’s memory alive.

“I always told myself when I work, I’m going to save money for her,” she said.

Yolanda Chairez, 58, died four years ago after losing her battle with cancer.  She grew up in Bakersfield and helped raise three children. 

“She was just always there, like her grandkids where everything, you know. She was raising, she had raised my two older ones, I raised my two other ones because I was older, and i was just a child when I had them,” she said.

After separating from her first husband, Chairez re-married.  The two spent 19 years together, but decided to call it quits nine months before passing away.  He received all her life insurance benefits and then disappeared from their lives.

“He was just upset, my mom left him with bills so, we tried to get a hold of him about the head stone and noticed that he didn’t pay for the head stone and his phone number was changed. He pretty much secluded himself, when out of town,” she said.

The family hoped to raise 13-hundred dollars using an on-line fundraising website, and someone has called in and wants to donate the entire amount. 

“I think she deserves a head stone. I wish I can do it, pay for it, but I live on a fix income now and I can’t pay all that money,” said first husband, David Leal.

Leal is raising a young family, but her mission now is to have a place her children can visit grandma.

“That’s my daughter and she loves her mom and going to do whatever, you know. I wish I can just say okay, I’ll go get it, but I just can’t,” he said.

Leal is a registered dental assistant but with no experience she’s having a hard time finding work.  She hopes to search for her mom’s old co-workers and friends from church to see if they can help.


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