On Sunday morning, Henry Pater got a call from the RCMP about his missing truck. It had been stolen last week full of boxes of precious family mementos, photos and letters from his late mother-in-law.
“They found the truck on the side of the road with the door open. It was running,” Pater said.
The vehicle was on fire — but the officer said a passerby saw it and jumped into action, dousing the flames with snow. A jerrycan was found on the seat.
“I asked him to look in the back of the truck, if anything was inside and he said the truck was empty,” Pater explained.
That news shattered the family’s hopes. Getting the truck back was nice but it was the contents of those boxes that were irreplaceable. They belonged to Eileen Vettese, who died unexpectedly at the end of November.
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“So our heart sunk again and at that point we were kind of like, ‘We need to come to terms with it and let it go that we may not recover the items’,” explained Eileen’s daughter, Mandy Vettese.
But someone was looking out for them. Mandy likes to believe it was her mom. The next day, their prayers were answered.
“A man and a woman started grabbing boxes and dropping them off on my front step,” Pater said.
“I wasn’t registering what was going on. Then I recognized the boxes.”
He was in total shock.
“The gentleman said it was his friend who had taken the truck and they didn’t say how he came into possession of our items, but he felt strongly that they should be returned,” Pater recalled.
He quickly called his wife, to share the good news.
“I, of course, started crying immediately. I just couldn’t believe it,” Mandy said.
Everything was there: “Great letters, their old passports from the time they came to Canada, all the way through, their wedding photos,” explained Shelley Vettese-Baert, Eileen’s oldest child.
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And despite the chaos, everything was intact — even the fragile Royal Dalton figurines.
“They’re not damaged at all,” Mandy said.
“A truck is a truck, but these memories? You can’t replace those,” Shelley said.
“Just so grateful.”
The Vettese family plans on sorting through the boxes together, remembering their loving parents.
“It kind of renews your faith in humanity,” Mandy added.
As for the people who returned all the precious memories?
“I shook his hand and wished him Merry Christmas,” Pater said.
“We said ‘no questions asked’ and that was the motto I was staying with.”