The white-haired couple squatted down, opened a bottle of liquor and poured it on the fire in front of a grave.
"Your son is handsome and your daughter is beautiful. Please rest in peace and pray for them," 70-year-old Ma Shunde said between sobs as her husband looked on in silence.
Thursday marks the third anniversary of the massive earthquake that rocked Sichuan Province and neighboring Gansu and Shaanxi Provinces on May 12, 2008, leaving more than 85,000 dead or missing.
Ma's son had been looking after a neighbor in a hospital when the quake hit.
"He was always kind-hearted," Ma said. "He liked drinking while eating the preserved ham I made. He used to work in a coal mine in Shaanxi. I made the ham for him each time before he left for work."
She made some preserved ham on Wednesday and placed the dish in front of her son's grave.
Ma told her son that the government had built them new house, where they recently held a family reunion.
"You were the only one missing," she said.
After the quake, she only dreamed of her son once.
"In the dream, he told me not to work too hard and to take care of myself," she said, wiping tears from her face.