After her only daughter was killed in a fiery alcohol-related crash last year in Clements, Tamra Scott was left trying to figure out how to grieve.
Before long, a memorial sprang up on Atkins Road for Crystal Marie Carson-Scott, 25, not far from memorials for the two men who were in the car that crashed into hers.
But now, two weeks before the one-year anniversary of her daughter's death, Scott has been told to remove the elaborate memorial. The umbrella, solar lights, photos and countless flowers must come down because San Joaquin County officials received complaints from people who live in the area.
"People think it's been almost a year, so everything needs to be taken down and forgotten. Well it's not like that for me, that's my baby," Scott said Tuesday.
In April, anonymous neighbors left a note at the scene south of Highway 88, expressing condolences but asking that the memorial be removed. It was a constant reminder of the horrible crash, the note said.
But that is what Scott wants, rather than allowing people to forget the fact that a drunken driver crashed head-on into her daughter that July 25, 2007, evening.
"I don't want anybody to forget her," Scott said. "I want people to remember her and keep it in the back of their minds, especially kids."
The crash was mentioned at a drunken driving awareness production this spring at Lodi High School, and Scott said she was so grateful that she contacted the California Highway Patrol to thank them. She said families have also taken their teenage children to the crash site to let them know what can happen to loved ones.
Though the memorial is certainly more elaborate than most seen along roadsides, it is not the only one. But San Joaquin County officials only get about one or two memorial-related complaints a year, said Steve Winkler, the county's deputy director of public works.
"Our practice is that if it's not a safety concern and we're not getting complaints, we look the other way," Winkler said.
Some memorials are right at the edge of highly traveled roadways, and others occasionally block views if they are placed at corners. Those are removed so that other people do not die in the same place, but Scott's memorial is not a hazard, Winkler said.
In fact, the county just started road work in the area, but the memorial is not hindering that project, either.
However, the property owner and neighbors have complained. They said groups of people were gathering at all hours of the night, Winkler said.
When that happens, the county puts up a sign at the memorial, asking family members to contact the county by a certain date. In Scott's case, the sign gave a Friday deadline.
Scott called the county Tuesday morning and spoke with a man she said was very compassionate. She is hoping she will be able to leave a small tribute to her daughter. At the least, she wants a cross, photo and a solar light at the place where her daughter took her last breath.
Her daughter's remains were cremated and family members scattered them while skydiving - one of her passions - so Scott doe not go to a cemetery to mourn.
She is creating a memorial garden at her home, including a bench given to her by a thoughtful man who did not even know the family, but she also does not want her daughter to have died for nothing.
Scott said she is actually pared the memorial down since receiving the anonymous letter, and she faithfully weeds the whole area and picks up any trash she finds. She said she would not mind taking a weed-eater to the whole area if that would appease neighbors.
"I don't want anybody to be upset but I just want people to understand where a mom's coming from," Scott said.
As for dismantling the memorial, she said she will do it rather than have the county do it, but she has not yet found the courage to face the idea.