At Thrift Store, Woman Finds Lost Urn Belonging to Family Who Lives on Opposite Side of U.S.
A woman was stunned to find an urn hidden in a dresser at a Florida thrift store, unraveling a mystery of a lost family keepsake that somehow wound up on the other side of America.
Brittany Gaither of New Smyrna Beach told InsideEdition.com that she was searching through a thrift store when she approached a woman asking about a dresser.
Gaither opened it, and discovered an urn inside.
"It was overwhelming," she said. "I have my mother's ashes in my home, which is so meaningful to me, so I immediately was like, 'Oh my god, someone has to be missing these.'"
Gaither, determined to track down the owner, took a picture of the bottom of the urn and posted it to Facebook.
A day later, an Arizona man who claimed the urn had contained his older brother's ashes reached out to Gaither.
"I had extremely mixed emotions," 52-year-old Jody Fanning of Cottonwood told InsideEdition.com. "I was ecstatic that somebody had taken the time and the effort to find me.
I was sad my brother's urn was in a thrift store in an abandoned dresser," he added.
According to Fanning, his older brother Robert Roy Fanning Jr. was known to most people as Rusty, and was an auto mechanic in Phoenix before he took his own life when he was 27.
Fanning said he thought his brother's widow had the urn, and was shocked to find it had become lost in a thrift store on the opposite side of the country.
"My feelings were confused. What was my sister-in-law thinking?" He said, speculating that the dresser may have been given away during a move. "Why wasn’t it with her?"
When he saw the name and the date on the picture posted to Facebook, he said he knew it was his brother who died 28 years ago, and said "I knew I had to do whatever it took to get him home."
According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Gaither immediately mailed the urn to the man's father, who's eldest son and namesake had been contained in the urn.
But when the family received the urn, they were shocked to find the urn was empty of the ashes.
"I pray my sister-in-law did what she was supposed to do and spread his ashes on the San Francisco peaks," he told InsideEdition.com, "but yes, it does give the family closure. I'll be giving [the urn] to my father, who will keep it at his home until his passing."