Sometimes, if you wait long enough, sad stories have a happy ending years later.
For Garden Spot Village resident Janet Burge, it happened on her 89th birthday.
After her wedding ring disappeared 64 years ago, it was returned at a special birthday celebration held Monday afternoon at Garden Spot in New Holland.
“I never expected to see it again,” the octogenarian said with a big smile. Dr. Les Burge, 91, was as surprised as his wife.
The surprise party was planned by their elder son, David, 66, who lives in Batavia, Iowa.
David, while responsible for the wedding band’s return, also was responsible for the wedding band’s disappearance. During the party, he humorously shared the decades-old story about the missing ring.
Patience, kindness, compassion, sacrifice, partnership: Readers share the meaning of love [letters]
As a curious toddler, 2-year-old David took the engagement diamond and wedding ring from his mother’s nightstand and put them down the hallway heater grate. Janet, who was pregnant at the time, had not been wearing the rings as they did not fit her finger.
“I may have been only 2 years old, but (I) remember vividly putting those rings down the grate,” said David with a chuckle.
His father remembers asking him where the rings were. David, who didn’t yet talk, pointed to the grate.
“After many attempts, I managed to retrieve the diamond, but not the wedding ring,” said Les.
Since the ring seemed lost forever, the couple purchased a new one.
The family moved from that home in Wilmington, Delaware, several years later. As an adult, David often recalled stories about his losing the ring and tried several times to contact the home’s owner, with no success.
Six months ago, however, he touched base with the home’s newest owner.
Shiva Rai, a native of Nepal, lived in the home and gave permission for David to hire a heating company to search for the ring. But the company couldn’t find it.
Rai decided to try his luck a couple weeks ago. He used a vacuum cleaner and heard a clink.
Wedding ring returned to Garden Spot resident 64 years after it was lost [photos]
“I found a small metal ring covered in dirt, but I knew it mattered to someone,” he said.
The 27-year-old found an inscription inside: June 11, 1955 — the Burges’ wedding date — with their initials.
Rai attended the party and gave the ring to David. It was the first time the 66-year-old had seen the ring since he was a toddler. Giving the ring to his mother, he apologized for putting it down the heater grate.
“My mother wore the ring for three years, and it was lost for 64 years,” said David.
Return to sender: Lancaster man finds love letters from the ’40s and ’50s, reunites them with family
After receiving the ring, which now fit on Janet’s little finger, the couple agreed to renew their wedding vows with Rev. Douglas Bozung, from Christian Fellowship Church, New Holland.
“I’m a tad more nervous now than the day we got married,” said Janet, looking at her husband and smiling.
The loving couple sealed their brief renewal with a kiss, to cheers and applause from the guests.
David explained that his three sisters and two brothers who live in other states were unable to attend on such short notice.
Friends from Chadds Ford in Delaware County, where the Burges lived before moving to Garden Spot Village in 2015, attended the birthday celebration.
Connie Neely, Chadds Ford, and Karla Plazer, formerly from Chadds Ford and now a Garden Spot resident, have shared a friendship with the couple for over 30 years.
“They are the most caring, loving couple you could ever be friends with,” said Plazer.
Jerry and Sue Panabaker from Delaware have been friends with the Burges for some 47 years. He said Les was like a caring, country doctor.
“This has been a wonderful birthday,” said Janet, looking at her ring.