“I was cleaning and knew I must have flushed it down,” Stanton, who lives in Somers Point, N.J., told the Press of Atlantic City. “It had been a little big on my finger because it was wintertime and my hands were smaller. I felt so bad about it. Sad and embarrassed.”
Stanton’s husband, Michael, had given her the ring to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Although he replaced it and jokingly told his wife to “hold onto this one,” Stanton never stopped thinking about the original gift and how much it meant to her.
Six years passed and Stanton believed that her ring was gone for good, but she couldn’t help but wonder if it was out there somewhere. So she reached out to Ted Gogol, an acquaintance of her husband’s, who works for the Somers Point Public Works Department, three years ago to see if he could help her track down the lost ring.
“She had this look on her face while she was telling me about it that said, ‘I can’t believe I did this,’” Gogol told the news outlet. “I told her really nicely that the chances of us finding it … well, just in passing, we’d keep an eye out for it.”
Everyone was out of luck until just last month — nine years after the ring went missing and three years after Gogol first heard the story — when Gogol found himself working not 400 feet away from the Stantons’ house doing routine maintenance work on a sewer line.
“I saw something shiny sitting in the mud and debris,” Gogol said. “I realized it was a ring, and I remembered the woman who was looking for a ring.”
Paula and Michael Stanton, however, were in South Carolina visiting their son and his family for Thanksgiving. So, Gogol left a note on their door, the Press of Atlantic City reported.
Stanton called public works and was informed by Gogol he had a found a ring, but he wasn’t sure it was hers. After all, he found it in the mud, near a utility hole, nearly a decade after it had gone missing. However, Gogol was able to see that the couple’s initials were engraved on the interior of the band. He was convinced it belonged to her.
“He came by after work and dropped it off. Nobody could believe it. Everyone was in a state of shock. I was hugging him and crying,” Stanton said. “I was calling my kids and telling people about it. My family had a difficult year, and for this to happen…”
Stanton, on advice from a jeweler, boiled the ring in peroxide and lemon juice a number of times, and she is now wearing her long-lost ring again alongside her replacement ring. She and her husband will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary on Dec. 27.
Gogol found the lost ring in a sewer system that runs about 40 miles and processes about a million gallons a day. Stanton told Gogol it was her Christmas miracle.
“There are honest people in the world, and I was so happy to have been able to help somebody,” Gogol told the Press of Atlantic City.
Paula Stanton did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
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