The final wish of a former United States Marine who is suffering from terminal cancer may be fulfilled after his family made a public appeal for him to be buried next to his beloved wife, who is also nearing her last days, in a veterans’ cemetery.
Samuel Leon and his loving wife of nearly 40 years, Marta, who is also terminally ill with liver disease and dementia, made their emotional plea in a family video just a few weeks ago.
On Thursday, the couple’s son, Samuel Leon Jr., and his mother rushed to Torrance Memorial Medical Center after doctors alerted them Leon Sr. may only have days to live.
Leon Jr., an only child and a veteran himself, has been fighting to fulfill his parents’ wishes to share a final resting place, even starting a GoFundMe to help raise funds as their time runs out.
Leon Jr. says he was initially told that none of California’s veteran cemeteries would take his mother since she was not married to his father while he was in the service.
He told KTLA 5 Reporter Kareen Wynter that his only options were burying them at a non-military or a non-veteran cemetery, which he couldn’t afford.
Asked why it’s so important to his parents that they be buried together, Leon Jr. didn’t hesitate.
“Because they made a commitment to each other … because they spent their life together and they want to spend their afterlife together,” he said.
Just before the Leons’ segment aired on KTLA 5 News, Wynter heard from the deputy director of the Los Angeles National Cemetery and Riverside National Cemetery, saying that if Leon Sr. passes before his beloved wife, they will be allowed to be buried at one of their cemeteries and that most of the burial expenses will be covered.
The official added that the family was initially misinformed regarding burial practices.
Leon Jr. and his mother left the Torrance Hospital Thursday not knowing if they will ever see Leon Sr. alive again, but now know that this bittersweet goodbye will end with his final wishes.