It’s been more than a decade since a Tennessee mother saw her late son’s lost toy Elmo, but the stuffed animal made its way back home, a day before what would have been the boy’s 14th birthday.
“It just felt like a message from him,” mom Candy Scarbrough of Knoxville told InsideEdition.com.
Her son Tucker was born in 2005 with multiple heart defects. He lived a happy life in between doctor’s appointments and surgeries, until he was 3 years old, when he suffered a stroke and died from complications months later.
During his life, Tucker and his toy Elmo, which he called “Melmo,” were inseparable.
“Tucker had his Elmo that he always took everywhere with him and he became kind of a comfort buddy for him,” Scarbrough said. “He came to all of our doctor’s visits and hospital visits with him.”
When Scarbrough saw the local J. C. Penney was hosting a "Sesame Street"-themed photo shoot, she decided to take him.
“It was a very cute picture but somewhere that day, we lost Elmo,” Scarbrough said, and the family eventually replaced “Melmo” with a different toy Elmo they found on eBay.
She said she didn’t think about “Melmo” much over the next 10 years, until this summer, when she shared a sweet photo of Tucker at that very photo shoot in memory of her late son and a friend on Facebook reached out to her asking where the photo was taken.
That’s when the woman told Scarbrough that she used to work at that photo studio, and remembered a kid leaving their toy Elmo behind. When no one came to retrieve it, she said she used the toy in the photo studio for years to cheer up other kids having their portraits taken.
“To know that through all these years, even though he wasn’t physically here, something of his was touching hearts and making kids smile, that’s thrilling,” Scarbrough said. “I think it would bring him great joy.”
In fact, the woman had kept the toy Elmo after she left her job at J. C. Penney, and asked if Scarbrough would like to pick it up the day before Tucker’s birthday.
“It was the last thing on my mind and it was overwhelmingly wonderful,” she said. “It was so amazing, the timing.”
“Melmo” now sits on a shelf with all her other kids’ toys, as a reminder of Tucker’s life and legacy.