(ABC News) -- Kim Peck of Rochester, New York, was reunited with her mother’s lost wedding dress the day after the second anniversary of her mom’s death.
“It’s all surreal,” Peck, 43, told ABC News of having the vintage 1970 wedding gown back in her possession.
Jeff Hopkins found the dress in a water-damaged box labeled “Linda’s dress” while cleaning out his attic in Throop, New York. His house is the childhood home where Peck grew up, but after her mother, Linda Hook, died, no one knew the dress was hiding in the attic full of clutter.
Hopkins had purchased the home “as-is” from Peck’s third husband, whom the children were not close with.
“I was ready to toss it, and then I picked it up and it was more solid than I thought,” Hopkins, 48, recalled. “Lo and behold it was actually a wedding dress. What was really amazing was to find out this dress has been in storage since the early ‘70s and when I opened it up, it was still pristine.”
Hopkins took the gown to the town clerk, Kathy Malenick, to help him track down the owner. He doesn’t have social media but figured Malenick, as the clerk of a very small town, “knows a lot of people,” he said.
Within an hour of her posting a photo of the gown to social media, Peck and Malenick were in touch. The bride’s daughter commented on her photo with a vintage picture of her mom wearing the dress on her wedding day.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, that is beautiful,’” Malenick said of the beautiful bride. “It’s so well preserved. I was surprised it wasn’t chewed up by mice or anything.”
The two women met on Saturday, and the dress was returned its rightful owner.
“I was in disbelief,” said Peck, who thinks finding the dress is definitely a sign from her mother.
She normally visits her mother’s grave on the anniversary of her death, July 25, which would have been the day before the women connected on Facebook, but she was busy bringing her son home from college orientation.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to stop at the cemetery on Tuesday because I had to bring him home so I was sad and disappointed,” she explained. “I was upset, and then I got the message the day after.
“It was funny,” Peck continued. “Before she died, she told me she was going to haunt me. She was always joking and pulling pranks. This is absolutely her.”
Hopkins is thrilled he was able to help return the sentimental dress the old-fashioned way, even if social media was the ultimate connection.
“She got something back from her mother that she didn’t think she’d ever get,” he said. “That’s the reward in itself actually.”
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