NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ — The spun glass pendant containing some of the ashes of her late son is back where it belongs — near Cindy Gelormini’s heart. She lost it for 17 anguished hours the afternoon of Feb. 23, likely near the Target or Home Depot stores on U.S. Route 22 in Union.
Gelormini was reunited with her necklace when Vincent Scrudato, a Belleville resident who had heard about the missing pendant from a friend, found it in the Home Depot Parking Lot.
Gelormini’s autistic son was 27 when he died in his sleep last year after suffering a seizure during the night.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m never going to see it again just like I’m never going to see Robbie again,’” Gelormini said in a Feb. 28 phone interview. “It was like it happened again. I had to shut that down. I couldn’t go there with my thoughts. And then I thought, ‘Well, I’ll see Robbie again in heaven, but I’ll never see this necklace again.’”
The New Providence resident said was in a daze when she was asked if she wanted her son to be cremated. She remembered seeing that other parents had their children’s ashes preserved in glass pendants and requested that the funeral home put aside some of her son’s ashes.
The pendant had been a source of comfort for Gelormini, who works as a realtor with Prominent Property Sotheby’s International Realty in Short Hills. She is also known as “the paint diva,” for helping clients choose just the right shade for their houses.
When Gelormini ran out to shop for pillows and a can of white spray paint for one of her clients, her pendant slipped off her neck. It was late at night when she discovered the pendant was missing. Several members of her church went out looking in the dark.
It was important for her to find the necklace. In addition to Robbie’s importance to her, he had appeared in dozens of video blogs with her, some of the videos highlighting how his new group home was unequipped to handle a severely autistic resident. That led to incidents such as one in which police were called and Robbie ended up in handcuffs.
“Robbie changed the world,” Gelormini said, “without saying a word.”
Gelormini reluctantly posted photos of the pendant on various Facebook pages. Originally, she feared trolls would make a bad situation worse. However, much to her surprise, word of the missing keepsake spread and she received so many updates from people sharing the story and wishing her luck, she couldn’t keep up. People from Cranford, Summit, Clark, Westfield and other municipalities helped in the search.
When she went to Target the next day, Gelormini ran into total strangers who had seen a post about the missing item and had gone to the store to search for it.
Gelormini had to go to work, but when she finished, she had a message.
“I had an email from this guy who says I think I found your necklace,” Gelormini said. “My first thought was like, ‘I don’t know who this guy is. This could be any random person that just saw this on Facebook. He could be an ax murderer for all I know. Is this real? I didn’t know.’ So, I called him and he said he went to Starbucks in the morning and he met a friend for coffee.
“He said he was going to Home Depot and she showed him the Facebook post. She said, ‘Listen, I saw this on Facebook. If you happen to see this necklace, keep your eyes open for it because you are good at finding things.’”
Sure enough, Scrudato pulled into the parking lot at Home Depot, got out of his car and found the pendant on the ground right in front of him. It was cracked into four pieces, but nothing was missing. Gelormini said she was trying to decide the best way to repair the pendant.
For now, though, her faith in humanity has been restored.
“I was afraid of trolls or people having nasty things to say online like, ‘She shouldn’t have worn it on that necklace,’” she said. “I can’t worry about that. I just have to hope the good outweighs the bad. There was not one negative thing. So many people cared and shared. I’m overwhelmed at how many good people there and how many nice things they had to say. It kind of taught me a lesson. There really are good people.”