Renate Herberger is known as the mermaid after she swam 8,448 kilometres in open oceans all over the world.
Almost exactly 22 years ago, her son Sylvan saw a mermaid sign while visiting Coombs and thought it was a perfect gift for his mom.
“It was cheap, it was $23, and he had pocket money, and he said, ‘Mom I want to buy that for you, because you’re a mermaid,” said Herberger.
But last week, the sign was stolen from her North Saanich property. It was a blow that hit even harder than normal.
Her son Sylvan committed suicide in 2012. The mermaid left Herberger with a token of his love.
“I can remember you every time I go home,” said Herberger. “There is your mermaid that you gave me.”
The sign was a staple alongside a trail in the small, close-knit community, seen by horseback riders and others.
A group of horseback riders came thorugh the trail, hoping to get a glimpse of the decoration that was no longer there.
And in the middle of a CHEK News interview on Friday, the mermaid came back. A woman pulled her car over and emerged with the metal mermaid.
“That’s my mermaid!” exclaimed Herberger, who was completely flabbergasted at the return of her priceless sign.
Amy Sanderson, a Langford resident, was walking in the Esquimalt Lagoon in Colwood when she noticed what she thought was a plastic bag in a tree.
It was lucky timing. Sanderson says she had just read a local article that morning about the stolen mermaid when she left for the beach.
“I went to the beach and within five minutes of parking my car there was the mermaid,” said Sanderson.
The next day, the Good Samaritan drove more than 40 minutes to return it.
“If it was important enough for her to put an ad up in the newspaper, it was important enough to give it back to her,” said Sanderson.
“This is a miracle, there’s nothing short of it. How did it end up there?” pondered the North Saanich mom.
The sign is going back up where it was, but this time, the mermaid might be bolted in.