It was a moment she would remember forever. Jane Foster glanced at the window of the antique store in Grand Junction, Colorado. Suddenly, something caught her eye. And when she realized what was staring back at her, she began to scream.
February 3, 2017 started off like an ordinary day for Foster. She set off from her home and headed along Grand Junction’s Main Street with the intention of buying a blouse. As she glanced at one particular shop’s window display, however, something stopped her in her tracks.
She had glanced in the window of a store called A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures where some brightly colored Pyrex dishes were on display. But suddenly, something else grabbed her attention.
She stopped. Beyond the display, someone she recognized was staring back at her. Someone she had loved dearly. And someone who had since passed away. But it couldn’t be… could it?
Foster let out a scream before dashing inside the store with the hope of purchasing the picture. She was overwhelmed by emotion and paced around the shop before plucking up the courage to approach an assistant about the picture.
Remarkably, the photograph was indeed a long-lost image of Foster’s late mother, Jean Nelson. It showed a 20-year-old Nelson resplendent in her dress on her wedding day in Crete, Nebraska.
“I just kept blinking and looking again, thinking, ‘Can that be? Of course, it can be, it is my mom,” Foster told The Daily Sentinel in February 2017. “I walked into the Robin’s Nest and grabbed her picture and held it tight to me.”
As she clutched the photo, Foster eventually made her way to the cash register. All it took for her to break down into tears was one question from store co-owner Robin Allerheiligen about the photograph as she rang up the purchase. Foster told Allerheiligen about the huge significance of the picture to her. Then, after hearing the commotion, Allerheiligen’s husband Shane arrived on the scene.
He had another surprise for Foster. “I think I have something else in the back you might want,” he said. He then fetched a box from the store room.
Incredibly, the box contained the wedding dress that Foster’s mom was shown wearing in the photograph. “This dress belongs to you, not us,” they told Foster. The dress was still wrapped in a newspaper dated June 1948, the month the wedding had taken place.
The big-hearted couple decided to ignore the price tags and gave both the photograph and the dress to Foster, free of charge. It turned out that the items had come to the store after they were purchased at an auction some years previously.
Foster’s mother had forgotten to pay the fees for the storage unit in which the items were kept, and as a result, they had ended up being sold. The family, however, had not found out that the items had been put up for sale until months after they were sold.
This meant that finding the new owners of her mother’s possessions had been almost impossible despite the best efforts of the family. However, they did not give up hope immediately.
Their initial investigations revealed that the items had been sold to a dealer in Chicago. However, they soon hit a dead end in their hunt for the family heirlooms. “I felt like there was a hole in my spirit,” Foster told The Daily Sentinel.
Foster had given up on recovering the items until the day of her chance discovery. And she believes that the find was a sign of her mother’s love from beyond the grave. “I believe she’s telling us she’s still here, watching over us,” she said. “It’s hard to deny there’s a message here.”
Now that the dress is once again in her hands, Foster is determined to share the happiness of its rediscovery with her family. Indeed, she told KKCO 11 that she plans to use the material to create Christmas ornaments to share with her family.
Yet while Foster’s find was something of a miracle, not everybody is so lucky. Georgia resident Kim Jones, for example, received a shock of a very different kind when she attempted to show her wedding dress to her daughter back in 2012. After opening the box, which had been safely stored beneath her bed for a quarter of a century, she reached under the plastic wrapping and got the surprise of a lifetime.
Her daughter Emily noticed something very strange about the dress. “Mama, I didn’t know your wedding dress had [long] sleeves,” she had said – and later recounted to USA Today. Her mother’s reply was revealing. “It doesn’t,” she said as they studied the long sleeves.
It turned out that the dress which Kim had carefully looked after for some 26 years did not even belong to her. All of this time she had in fact been carefully storing somebody else’s wedding gown. “We screamed in horror and just about died,” Kim told USA Today in 2012.
It seemed that the dress had accidentally been swapped with another dress when it was dry cleaned soon after the wedding day. But who knows: perhaps one day, her dress might turn up in an antique store window…