YORK -- At Peggy Wyatt's back door Friday afternoon stood the mail carrier. The carrier, named Susan, who likes Wyatt so much she brings bones for Wyatt's dog, held a small square mail package addressed to Peggy Wyatt.
"Susan said she wanted to tell me the package sounded like something inside was broke, and she didn't drop it," Wyatt said.
There was no return address. Only a postmark of Jan. 3, Thursday. From "Fort Lawn, S.C.," a tiny spot in Chester County along the Catawba River. The cost to mail the package showed $5.05.
Wyatt at age 70, a widow, asked Susan to stay and watch as she opened the box because, as Wyatt said later, "I'm not even sure where Fort Lawn is so I don't think I know anybody from there, either."
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The flaps opened and Wyatt started to cry and blurted out, "Oh, my God!"
Like she had cried Dec. 6 when she momentarily forgot her purse in a shopping cart at Rock Hill's Hobby Lobby store, then quickly returned to find the purse gone.
Inside the mailed box Friday afternoon, Wyatt said, was most of what was in that purse. Her driver's license. Her Medicare card. Her Social Security card. The cell phone that was in the purse. The wallet. Her credit cards and department store cards.
Her checkbook, with not a single check missing.
The Community Cash grocery store card for a store long dead was there. The Piggly Wiggly "Pig's Favorite Customer" card for a store that lives still.
Some of the old receipts that she kept in her purse, because 70-year-old ladies have kept receipts for all the countable years that there have been older ladies and receipts. In there was that Hobby Lobby receipt from Dec. 6 for $30.21, when she bought the flowers for relatives' graves.
A pair of long grocery lists for Christmas baking and cooking for so many kids and grandkids and others. Milk and eggs at the top.
Two little bags of toothpicks. One tiny tube of lip balm. Dental floss. Those little wet naps you can use to wash your hands after eating french fries or fried chicken. A prescription pill box. A plastic prayer card that asked the Lord to save others.
And in the box were the five tubes of lipstick Wyatt had in that purse when it was snatched. The shades and colors that a 70-year-old lady can use without alarm. Not flashy. The muted reds and pinks that a great-grandmother can wear with style when she wants to look, say, 69.
"I can't use 'em now, I don't know where they have been," Wyatt said of the lipsticks.
What wasn't in that box, Wyatt said, was the $250 in cash and gift cards she had planned to use as Christmas gifts. Her glasses weren't in there. The purse itself wasn't mailed back, either, she said.
Wyatt said she has no idea who sent the package. She doesn't know who took her purse, either.
What we do know is on Dec. 13, I wrote a column about that purse going missing and how it broke the heart of this 70-year-old who had done hair all her life to make money and is now on a fixed income. The readers of this newspaper were so overwhelming in support of her, with wads of cash and offers of eye exams and glasses and so much more, that I wrote another column so Peggy Wyatt could thank everybody and I could, too.
And now, just after the New Year -- after the Christmas that Wyatt was able to get through after canceling those cards and replacing the checks and all the running around that comes with losing a purse -- most of the stuff comes back from an anonymous mailer.
I can't imagine that it happens often, or ever, that some 70-year-old lady gets her purse stolen, her story appears in the paper and the community howls in outrage while opening up their wallets, then the stuff comes back to the lady in the mail.
But it happened Friday in York, South Carolina.
Wyatt called the police in Rock Hill after getting the package. The case is still open and under active investigation, Capt. Charles Cabaniss of the Rock Hill Police Department said.
The main reason Wyatt was so distraught when the purse was stolen was because she is a 70-year-old lady, and 70-year-old ladies have pictures of people in purses that can never be replaced.
Out of that box Friday tumbled those pictures. Including one of her youngest son, Michael, now 45, at age 13. A friend who died in a car wreck that can have no more pictures taken.
Peggy Wyatt got most of her stuff back Friday. And her past back, too.
But not her glasses or money. Somebody apparently kept both, maybe to better read plastic prayer cards under weak winter light.