ELYRIA, Ohio-- The passing of Sandy Smith, 53, came without much warning.
Smith, who was diagnosed with cancer in December, died in March.
"She was never mad at anybody. She opened her house to everybody and everyone. She was just the most lovable person I've ever met in my entire life," said Brittany Sorino, her niece.
"She went into the hospital one day and we thought she was going to come home, but she never did."
Per her wishes, Smith was laid to rest at the Brookdale Cemetery, one of three city-owned and maintained cemeteries in Elyria.
Her family said their grief has now turned to outrage waiting for a headstone to be placed at Smith's grave site.
"It's making me angry. It's just making me be mad that I have to go there and see a stick when I go up there to see my mother," said Megan Tyree, Smith's daughter.
"Her birthday is coming up on the 28th of this month and I want to go see her and I just want to celebrate her with a headstone. I can't do that. They won't let me," Tyree said.
With the help of the monument company that created Smith's headstone, FOX 8 was able to find it propped up against a building on the cemetery property along with 13 others, giving Smith's relatives a chance to see it for the first time. The stone was delivered to the cemetery on Aug. 8.
The city would not let the cemetery manager go on camera, but FOX 8 learned the cemetery uses a subcontractor to place headstones and does not call them to place stones one at a time when they are individually delivered.
The contractor was last at the cemetery on Aug. 5, three days before Smith's headstone was delivered, when they placed all 25 headstones that had already been there.
The concrete footer at Smith's grave site had also already been poured earlier this month awaiting the arrival of her stone.
"I'd love to go and see a picture of her and something in her honor because she deserves this more than anybody. I'm tired of going out there and seeing a stick with her name on it because my aunt would not want that," Soriano said.
After sitting down with the cemetery manager off camera on Thursday, FOX 8 was able to get a commitment that Smith's headstone will be placed at her grave site in time for her birthday, even if the cemetery's own maintenance crew has to do it themselves.