Elizabeth Mendoza and Jennifer Garcia both have children buried in the City of Lubbock cemetery. They visit their graves regularly, leaving flowers, signs and other items in remembrance.
Then, two weeks ago, Mendoza was shocked to find that a lot of what her family left was gone.
"This last weekend I came and I visited my baby and I noticed that everything that we had set out here was gone," Mendoza said. "We put his Easter basket, the signs my husband made him - just everything was gone."
The same thing happened to Garcia and both women said there had never been any problems before.
"Everything that we brought stayed where we left it. We hadn't had any items stolen or go missing. We never had an issue with the mowers taking and throwing things away until this week," Garcia said. "It's like I'm losing her all over again because you bring things here and you don't expect them to be removed."
"We've done everything that we're supposed to do to make sure that this didn't happen," Mendoza said. "These items mean a lot and unless you've lost a child it's hard to explain it."
Bridget Faulkenberry is manager of the cemetery.
"We have written rules and guidelines that do allow us to remove items from memorials," she said. "We have to do it from time to time to get things out of the way of the mowers because the mowers will tear them up and the weed eaters will tear the stuff up... They can fling pieces of glass and that's kind of an unsafe situation."
Article 6, number 4 in the City of Lubbock Cemetery Rules and Regulations handbook reads:.
"Construction or instillation of grave covers, curbing, steps, fencing, hedging or enclosures of any kind will not be permitted. The use or placement of statues, monuments or other objects made of cements, iron, wood, glass, plastic, paper, or other fragile or degradable material shall not be permitted. The city of Lubbock reserves the right to remove and dispose of any objects that are erected, planted or placed in violation of this rule."
This rule is repeated in Article 11, titled general regulations.
"No object or article other than an approved memorial or other reasonable decoration will be permitted to remain on any grave, walkway or street. These type of objects include, but are not limited to, lawn or garden statues; metal, wooden or plastic crosses; figurines; shepherd's crooks; or other articles."
However, Faulkenberry admits that the cemetery removed too many items.
"I'm new, we have a bunch of new crew members and unfortunately we actually removed more things than I intended and that did cause some grief and pain for some of the people who have memorials here," she said. "Some of those items were handmade and we can't replace those but we are taking steps to prevent that from happening in the future."
They plan to notify the crew and put more signs up in the cemetery explaining the rules.
Mendoza and Garcia believe there needs to be more clarity.
"I just want to know that the next thing I bring him isn't going to get thrown in the trash," Mendoza said.
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