Lifestyle & Human Interest

Long-Lost Elmo Doll Returned to Grieving Mother 10 Years After Her Son's Death


Many kids have a specific little token that they take along with them everywhere.

Whether that item is a blanket, a stuffed animal or some other sort of toy, there is generally heartbreak if the object is ever lost.

The situation was a bit more pressing for little Tucker Howard, who passed away at just 3 1/2 years old.

His worn-out Elmo doll went him wherever he went, and after Tucker suffered a stroke, the red toy was one of the very few things he could respond to, according to People.

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“All my kids were Elmo kids, so yeah, he was pretty special to us,” his mother, Candy Scarbrough, told People.

During a 2007 photo shoot at a local J.C. Penney, the beloved character was somehow left behind, and when Scarbrough called to see if the studio still had him, she was met with disappointment.

“It was awful! [Elmo] was old and scruffy, so I couldn’t just go to the store and buy a new one,” the mom said. “I think I ultimately ended up finding one maybe on eBay to try and replace it. I called the studio and whoever answered said that they didn’t have it, so I just gave up on that.”

Occasionally, Scarbrough posts photos of her son on Facebook, and earlier this year she was moved to share an adorable photo of Tucker with the toy he referred to as “Melmo.” One of the responses she got was entirely unexpected.

“In June, I posted a picture of Tucker from 2007, with his Elmo,” she posted to Facebook on Sept. 20. “I made a comment about how upset he was when we lost it at that photo shoot.”

“As you can see, he LOVED his ‘Melmo’. It was his comfort buddy. (Yes, I searched high and low after that day until I found a raggedy Elmo clone ?).”

She also mentioned that after the post, she got the following message from a friend named Megan Whitehead Flanagan: “I worked at JC Penney’s portrait studio in the west town mall during the time we had the seasame Street set. I took many many photos of kiddos with that background. A[n] Elmo was left at our studio during that time – 4-5 Years later when I left the studio in 2010 I took Elmo with me as he was a smile making tool I utilized for 1000s of babies.”

Flanagan continued to say that as her time at the studio came to an end, she asked her boss if she could take the Elmo with her, since it had been such a special smile-generator.

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She took him home, and he’d been in her care since.

“Years later I met you,” Flanagan wrote, according to Scarbrough’s Facebook post. “Several weeks ago you put up a post that your late son had left a Elmo at the JCp studio. Has this story come full circle[?] Could this be his Elmo ?”

It was indeed Tucker’s Elmo — and the toy made it back into Scarbrough’s life on the day before what would have been Tucker’s 14th birthday.

“As soon as I got the bag, I had to open it right then, and I guess I was surprised by how the emotions did overwhelm me,” Scarbrough said of receiving the well-loved toy. “I just couldn’t help but smile. I guess it’s almost like a piece of my son was coming back to visit. I’ve said that it was almost like a message.”

“It just was a huge reminder, and I like to think maybe a message even, from Tucker, just saying, ‘Hey, this was part of my life,'” she said. “And help me to focus on his life and not his death.”

“Elmo thank you for resting in my hands and giving babies so many kisses, getting their bellies and producing so so so many smiles for babies, children and even grumpy Dads,” Flanagan commented on Scarbrough’s post.

“I’m so grateful that you are now back in the hands you are supposed to be in after a full circle journey.”

“[NBC’s ‘Today’] asked me how I would describe the events leading up to finding Elmo,” Scarbrough posted on Saturday. “I told them I believe it was ‘Divine orchestration’. God’s timing is always perfect timing.”

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