As a Tennessee woman stood among the devastation that used to be her home, there was only one thing she couldn't replace.
Her late husband’s military quilt, which carried so many memories for her family, had been lost when a tornado ripped through their Chattanooga neighborhood on April 12, Easter Sunday, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
“Items can be replaced, but this ... this can’t be,” Beulah Lockmiller told WRCB-TV of Chattanooga.
But Lockmiller recently received some good news: The quilt has been located and will soon be returned.
Lockmiller’s husband, a National Guard veteran who served during Operation Desert Storm, died 10 years ago of a heart attack. The quilt had been one of his treasured mementos.
“That quilt — even though it’s an item — it’s part of him and we can’t get that back,” her granddaughter, Loren Lockmiller told the station. ”It’s a very unique item and one of the last things we have of him,” she added.
She said the quilt, which was handmade by a family member when he returned from deployment, had the late guardsman's Army patches on it, the flags of the countries he’d been to and even a loving letter he wrote while deployed.
Beulah Lockmiller kept the quilt inside a dresser drawer in her bedroom, which was blown away just steps from where she was hiding in the hallway when the twister hit.
After a Free Press photograph showing the quilt among the debris in her neighborhood failed to lead to its recovery, another family came to the rescue.
Pilar Estrada posted on Facebook that her son found the quilt while they were doing community service in the area. She said at first, her son wanted to keep it, but they quickly realized how personal it was and that someone must be missing it.
“He realized that it was custom made for someone special, so he and I decided make this post to try to find the owner of this blanket and to give back to the right owner," Estrada wrote.
Lockmiller saw the post within an hour, the Free Press reported.
"It's kind of unbelievable just like everything else that's happened this week, but I'm just so excited," she told the Free Press. "To think that someone had a heart to return it just means a lot to me."
Lockmiller told the newspaper she wasn’t sure where she would keep the returned quilt.
"I'm gonna protect it, so if I have to -- put it in a 5,000-pound safe," she added.