Her hands grasped tightly around the battered portrait of her mother and late stepfather as she expressed her heartfelt thanks for it being returned to her family.
Dee Green, 51 and her husband, Loyd, stopped by the Tyler Morning Telegraph offices Tuesday to collect the portrait, which had been lost in transit last month.
"I can't believe you not only found it, but went back and got it and then wrote a story about it," she said with tears in her eyes. "You don't know how much this means to me, because this is my only photo of them together."
The portrait was discovered last week on Loop 49 between South Broadway Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.
Mrs. Green said the people were her parents, J.C. and Naomi Luman, and added the photo was the last portrait of the two taken together.
"Not long after this photo, he got a video camera and was always taking video of everyone else. He was always behind the camera and never in front of one," she said.
Mrs. Green said her stepfather was in her life from when she was about 11, and he had been a father to her until his death in 1993 at the age of 53.
"He got sick and thought it was just a virus, but it turned out he had cancer," she said.
Mrs. Green's mother has since remarried and lives in Kemp.
Naomi Lane, 68, said she was thrilled the portrait was found, but the person happiest about the discovery was Dee's husband, who said he about died when he learned the portrait had been found on the side of the road.
The couple explained that after Loyd lost his job at Carrier, the family had to downsize, and they are still sorting through things.
"I was moving some stuff from our storage building in Tyler to our house in Chandler last month, and I guess it just blew out,” Loyd Green said. “We didn't even know it was missing until the article ran in the paper. First thing I told my wife is, 'Your mother is going to kill me.'"
Mrs. Green looked at the portrait and assessed the damage caused by the weather over the course of a month.
"I really cannot believe it is in this good of shape knowing it had been out there so long. I am glad to have it back and thankful that someone would take the time to do this for my family," she said.
The portrait will need some restoration, but the Greens say it will now be a family treasure and placed in a prominent spot in their home.
"It has a story now and we will put the newspaper articles right next to it and tell all of our family. I hope this passes down to my great-great grandchildren. I hope it stays in the family forever and the story about how it was found and returned will never be forgotten," she said.