The old saying "Better late than never" rang especially true for one Cincinnati couple, Joyce and Paul Werner, who celebrated their 45 th wedding anniversary Sunday after finally being reunited with Joyce's wedding band.
She had lost it 40 years ago.
It turned up during a bathroom remodeling job being done in the home where the Werner's were first married and raised their children in the early '70s. The ring is now safely back on Joyce's hand, and "It fits perfect," she said.
"I was debating on whether or not to redo the bathroom because it's probably original with the house, but I thought I should go ahead," Rita Hellmich, 63, of Greensburg, Ind., told ABCNews.com. "One of the contractors took the existing vanity out. Literally, the ring popped out. It was that tight behind the vanity. It even made an indention on the plaster. It was in there that tight.
"One of the contractors said he thought they found a ring of mine. But no, this wasn't my ring, but it was somebody's wedding ring. I could see it was engraved on the inside of the ring with the initials and the wedding date. I noticed the initials on the ring coincide with the original owners of this place. But the problem was these people have lived in other states for the past 35 to 40 years. So I thought, 'Well, I'm going to find them.'"
Hellmich, who bought the house less than 10 years ago, knew the Werners were originally from the Batesville, Ind., area, so she got a local Batesville phone directory and started calling all the Werners she could find. Eventually she reached one of Paul Werner's cousins.
"When I came home there was a message on my answering machine," Hellmich said. "And it was Mr. Werner, and they were just ecstatic. He told me the story of the ring, about losing it 40 years ago and their anniversary was coming up. He said, 'I can't believe you found this. It is so essentially important to us.'"
The Werner's wasted no time going to retrieve the ring after finding out where it had been all these years. Hellmich discovered the missing treasure on Friday, Jan. 25, and they were on the road the following Wednesday to pick it up.
"I just was speechless," said Joyce. "I'm not really ever speechless. It was so out of the blue. Forty years. We celebrated our wedding anniversary yesterday, 45 years. The ring, I totally have been missing it for 40 years.
"I was a cosmetologist 40 years ago and I'd go to the different shops and fill in. Since my fingers are very little, I'd take it on it and off. I never dreamed it fell behind an old counter. I had to laugh because the construction worker said he found the ring and bunch of combs. I used to do hair at home, and I used to wash people's hair in there, and I took it off and it must've gotten wedged back there."
The recently found ring holds special meaning for Hellmich, too.
"My husband passed away and we were 35 years of marriage together," she said. "I put his wedding band around my neck on a necklace. We went down to Paducah, Ky., and walked around the whole day and I discovered in the evening that my necklace was gone. I was just sick about it.
"We couldn't find it. And I just happened to look down and there that ring was, on top of the soil, not bedded down. As if God had raised it from the soil and said, 'Here it is.' I knew how important that ring of mine was to find, and I knew it was probably important for the Werner's to be reconnected with their ring, also."