20th wedding anniversary ring that was accidentally flushed reunited with owner 9 years later
There are few things as nerve-wracking as thinking that you've lost something important. For me, it happens all the time with my wallet and phone, with that split-second of panic bringing anxiety levels to an all-time high - before I find out it's just in my other pocket. But there are some things that are so valuable to us, the pain of losing them goes far beyond the initial panic.
If, for instance, you lost an expensive necklace you'd splashed out for yourself after payday, you'd lament the jewellery and the money it was worth. But if that necklace was a birthday present from a partner, or something passed down through your family, it would hurt a lot more. The same, of course, goes for wedding rings.
I can imagine that when it's easy to worry when it comes to losing a wedding ring. Thankfully, most of us manage to keep them around, or lose them and find them again - but not everyone is so lucky.
Paula Stanton had a diamond-encrusted wedding ring that she adored, but she unfortunately lost it when cleaning. Remarkably, nearly 10 years on, it was re-discovered.
Stanton, from New Jersey, accidentally flushed the 20th wedding anniversary ring down the toilet when she was cleaning the bathroom, but nine years later it was found by a public works official as he was carrying out maintenance work. This man, from the Somers Point public works department, remembered Stanton had mentioned the ring a few years ago - so brightened up her day with the news.
"It was heartbreaking," Paula told 6abc, remembering the day she lost the ring. "I was embarrassed to tell my husband because it was meaningful."
Soon after, her husband bought a duplicate, but she still wanted the original back. Two years ago she made contact with Crew Chief Ted Gogol to see if he'd seen the ring in the course of his work, and he said he hadn't. But this call proved crucial, as last month he discovered it during his work, near a manhole about 400 feet from the Stantons' home.
When they returned home from a Thanksgiving trip, there was a note on her door to contact Gogol's department, and he gave her the good news. "I was thrilled. Stunned. I could not believe it," she said.
There are around 1,100 manholes in Somers Point, to put this in perspective - but Gogol spotted a shiny object in the mud, on the shoulder of a pipe that lead to the Stanton home. Once he confirmed it was her ring, they boiled it in peroxide and lemon juice to disinfect it - and she's now wearing the ring once more.
"That ring didn't want to leave her family," Gogol explained. "There are so many things that could have happened. It could have been washed away, it could have been crushed, but it was just meant to be."
Stanton considers this chance discovery an early Christmas miracle - and who can blame her?