This story of giving will warm your heart (and then some) this holiday season. When Joyce Wharton's parents, Hugh and Hazel Armstrong, disappeared 55 years ago while flying their small plane from Portland to Seattle, she was left with few reminders of them or their marriage — until now.
It took more than 10 years for anyone to find any debris or wreckage from the crash that ostensibly killed Wharton's parents, but even then, what was uncovered was minimal at best. "At the time, they didn't really find anything — they found my dad's wallet and a few little buttons," Wharton told Washington Fox affiliate Q13.
Thanks to logger Nick Buchanan's keen eye and tireless efforts, though, Wharton was reunited with something truly special on November 30 — her mother's wedding ring. By that time, the special piece of jewelry had had a journey of its own.
Buchanan originally found the ring in the roots of a cedar tree while hiking in the crash zone in 1997. "I never once thought it belonged to me," Buchanan, told Q13 of the ring; he quickly realized that the ring must have belonged to the couple who had died in the plane crash in 1959. "I just was hoping that there was a daughter or a family member that I could turn it over to."
Nearly 20 years after that discovery, Buchanan's nephew, who'd researched on Ancestry.com, called Wharton on the morning of November 30 with the call she'd waited almost six decades for. "He says, 'I've been looking for you,'" Wharton says. "Then he said, 'Joyce, I found your mother's wedding ring and I want to give it back to you.'"
Buchanan mailed the five-stone ring to Wharton, who calls it "my Christmas miracle," adding, "The last time I saw this ring, my mother was wearing it 55 years ago."