Darlene King thought it was a lost cause - that she would never see her late husband's wedding ring again.
But that was just what Shannon and Steve Callahan came from Elverta to deliver Wednesday night.
Fighting back tears, the Callahans handed the ring, delicately placed in an ornate ivory box, over to King at her Auburn residence.
"I want to give this ring back to you," Shannon Callahan said, with her arms wide open and a ring in one hand, "and a hug."
Thomas King had lost the ring five to six years ago before the couple moved from Texas to California.
I told him it probably went down the drain or something, said King, 78. We thought it was a lost cause."
And on their end, the Callahans had almost given up on what Steve Callahan called a far-fetched search.
So when The Bee left her a message saying that a Sacramento couple might have found the ring under their car's passenger seat, she was at first skeptical.
"The first question I asked was is it white or yellow gold," King said. "Because if it was yellow, it wasn't his. And it would be disappointing if it wasn't his."
The ring is 14 karat white gold with five diamond flecks on top and an inscription from 51 years ago.
Steve and Shannon Callahan had spent the last three weeks desperately trying to find who lost it.
They were sure they found the right person when they called King on Wednesday morning.
She described the ring in perfect detail, including its size. And her wedding date - April 29, 1961 - was inscribed inside the band.
As soon as they got off work, the Callahans rushed to Darlene King's senior community apartment in Auburn. Shannon Callahan was thrilled that she could return the ring.
"She lost her own ring before and was really upset," Steve Callahan said.
Darlene King and her husband, Thomas, had purchased two cars from Crawford Auto Plaza in El Paso, Texas. When they moved to California, their 2004 silver Pontiac Grand Am came with them - the same car that the Callahans bought in January from Sunshine Automart in Sacramento.
Three weeks ago Steve Callahan lost his cellphone and his wife stumbled upon the ring. He felt in the spaces between the seats of their car while Shannon reached below the passenger seat, where she felt the ring wedged in the middle.
"My heart dropped inside," she said. "I turned to my husband and said, 'OK, it's a ring.' There were five diamonds on top of it and an inscription. So I knew it was a wedding ring and it belongs to somebody."
Shannon Callahan became determined to find that somebody, because, she said, the ring is a token of that person's love and life with another.
She had three pieces of information from a CarFax report and the back of the car: It had only one prior owner, it was from Texas, and it originated from Crawford Auto Plaza, which she subsequently found out was in El Paso.
"I called the dealership and they were supposed to call me," said Shannon Callahan, "I waited for two weeks and never heard back."
She said she became increasingly agitated.
"I kept the ring in my jewelry box, and every day I would walk past it thinking this ring belonged to somebody," she said.
Finally, she couldn't wait any longer and called the El Paso DMV. She said they did not give her any information because of privacy laws but directed her to county records, where employees' only helpful advice was to contact the media.
Thinking that the car owners must be in El Paso, Shannon Callahan contacted the El Paso Times with her story, hoping it would reach the owner who would know the full date of the inscription. The story was distributed nationally by the Associated Press.
The Bee contacted George Woolard, chief operating officer of Crawford Autos, with the vehicle identification number, and he helped the newspaper track the car's original owners - the Kings - to Auburn.
Thomas King, a Korean War veteran, died in January due to complications from a fall. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in April 2011.
Darlene King told Shannon Callahan that if her husband were alive, he would be tickled to know that his ring had been recovered.
"I guess I'm going to give it to my son," King said. "It'll be a gift from his father."