Elmo means more to one West Tennessee mother and family than just another cartoon character. 

"This is our friend Elmo he's been a long-time family friend," said Candy Scarbrough.

She's holding onto a stuffed animal Elmo tightly after losing it 12 years ago.

"Getting him back after all that time was just like a wink from the Lord," she said.

It was also a wink from her son, Tucker. The two were inseparable -- he called him "Melmo." 

"Elmo was his best bud. He carried Elmo with him everywhere he went," she said. 

But during a photoshoot in West Town Mall, Elmo got left behind, sending Scarbrough into a frenzy to find a replacement. However, the new Elmo never held the memories of the original.  

Tucker was born in 2005 with congenital heart defects. Through multiple surgeries, Elmo was always by his side. At two and a half years old, Tucker suffered a stroke and died less than a year later. 

Scarbrough thought Elmo was long gone, until her recent post on Facebook got the attention of a photographer who formerly worked at the mall. She had found Tucker's Elmo 12 years ago.

Read the full story on WBIR's website.