updated 10/12/2010 1:59:59 PM ET 2010-10-12T17:59:59

A Montana woman received a big surprise for her 80th birthday — the wedding ring she lost eight years ago.

Norma Welker of Shelby told the Great Falls Tribune she took the ring off while she was arranging flowers cut from her garden. A phone call distracted her while she cleaned up and she didn't realize the ring was missing until after her trash had been hauled away. She searched the compost pile with no luck and figured the ring was gone forever.

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This spring, she decided her garden was too difficult to keep up and asked her grandson to till it so she could plant grass.

Nick Welker was tilling the area when he spotted what he thought was a soda pop top. He bent down to pick it up and found what looked like his grandmother's lost wedding ring.

His grandfather is deceased, and he showed the ring to his parents, who confirmed his suspicion. Together they decided to surprise Norma Welker with the cleaned up ring for her 80th birthday.

"I really couldn't believe it," Norma Welker said. "It just seemed like it was so impossible. I asked him where on Earth did you get this?"

Norma Welker points out that if her grandson hadn't found the ring it likely would have been lost forever after the area was planted with grass.

As surprising as the find was, it wasn't the first time Nick Welker recovered a lost wedding ring.

As a senior at Shelby High School in 2004, a shiny object caught his eye in the school parking lot. It was a $15,000 wedding ring that belonged to a teacher.

Nick Welker returned it and refused the substantial reward she offered, Norma Welker said.

"He doesn't need a metal detector to be a treasure hunter," she said. "It was something that was just supposed to happen, I guess."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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