Dori Rhoades, a working mother of two, was having an especially busy week. Between her son’s 9th birthday, her own anniversary, organizing teacher appreciation week and volunteering at her children’s school, she was exhausted and admittedly a bit scatter-brained.
On top of everything else, her community had planned to have a garage sale on Saturday, May 18, which Rhoades, 38, didn’t originally plan to attend. However she decided to opt in last minute at the urging of her excited 6-year-old daughter, who pleaded to participate. Rhoades had no idea that would be a decision she would drastically regret.
In the sale, she accidentally sold her $18,000 diamond earrings, which hold immense sentimental value, along with $1,500 she was saving for a family vacation and a ring her husband had given her, for $20.
The items had been tucked into the pocket of an old jean jacket she hid in her closet for “safe keeping.”
“I fell asleep with the kids and then woke up around 2 a.m. in the morning and was gathering things for this garage sale,” Rhoades told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “And I grabbed the denim jacket thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t even wear this.’ I sold the jacket probably about 9 a.m. in the morning. It never even occurred to me what I was doing.”
It wasn’t until later that afternoon when she was taking her kids swimming that she had realized her huge mistake.
“I went to take my watch off, and I went to put the watch in the jacket, and my heart just fell,” said Rhoades. “I realized what had happened. But I had my kids, and other kids were over for a play date, so I couldn’t just fall apart. I had to keep it together.”
Now that she’s had some time to let the situation sink in, Rhoades is devastated, not because of the monetary value of the earrings, but of their sentimental value as a family heirloom from her parents who immigrated to America from Vietnam in 1975 with nothing.
“It was from my parents,” she said. “My dad had given my mom a ring, and after he passed, my mom gave the ring to me. It was something I’d wanted pass along to my daughter. And I saved up for the other stone to make the earrings.”
Rhoades said her husband, Greg, has been comforting despite the loss.
“He’s been wonderful and said to me, ‘You know what, there’s nothing we can do. What’s done is done. Forgive yourself and move on.’ He reminds me that the most important thing is we have our kids and each other and we’re healthy,” she said.
“Through this, all I’ve always said that I have my family and my house and we’re together and that’s what matters, but what really eats me up is where that one particular stone had come from.”
She tried to retrieve her treasures.
“I posted signs all over the neighborhood and on Craigslist. I didn’t do it right away after it happened because I was kind of in shock of the whole thing. I told myself that I need to accept it and move on. Then I saw the article of the woman who got her ring back, and it sent me into a tailspin thinking I could find it, too. ”
She was referring to the California husband who inadvertently sold his wife’s $23,000 wedding for $5 at a garage sale on June 1. The ring was hidden in an unused watch box. After advertising their loss, the ring was returned to them on Good Morning America.
Rhoades says even if nothing comes from this, she at least knows she did everything within her power to get them back.
“What’s most heartbreaking for me is that my parents came over here with nothing,” she explained. “They raised their family and worked really hard and they saved. To me, the loss of those earrings, what they represent is what my parents sacrificed for their kids, and doing it responsibly.
“When they were older, my dad finally saying to my mom, ‘It’s time I can finally buy you a nice ring.’ That loss is never anything that can be replaced.”