In 1959, when Joyce Wharton was a young girl, her mother and father boarded a plane bound for Seattle. Then they, along with the pilot, were never heard from again.
The family lived with unanswered questions until wreckage of the plane was found 15 years later, deep in the woods of Washington state.
With resolution long since attained, Wharton got a life-affirming phone call this week from a logger who'd been trying to reach her for years. He'd found something he wanted Wharton to have.
Her mother's wedding ring.
"To me, it's my Christmas miracle," Wharton told WABC-TV. "And I look at the ring, and I think about my mother. It's like reaching back in time."
Nick Buchanan happened upon the ring near the crash site and, with his nephew's help, used Ancestry.com to track down Wharton, WABC reported. Soon, her mother's still-sparkling ring was making the 3,000-mile journey from Centralia, Washington, to Wayne, New Jersey.
"My mouth was open," she told the station. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing...it restores your faith in human nature, because there's so many bad things happening. And yet there are good people out there, kind people. People persevere."