SCHENECTADY — Fifteen-year-old Justina “Teena” Coney grieved the death of her young mother, Betty Ann Enous Coney, in 1983.
Now 53, Coney said a long-lost Bible was the only possession she had of her mother, who was in her 40s when she died.
Somehow, the Bible went missing as the family moved from an apartment. No one knew where it was for 38 years, said Coney, who estimated she spent 10 years looking for the Bible before she moved to New York City. Coney eventually returned to the area and now lives in Colonie.
Unbeknownst to anyone, Sridevi Nankishorelal found the book inside her home on Stanford Street.
No one knows how it got there. The Coneys never lived at that particular address.
Nankishorelal said she found the book sometime around 2007. Nankishorelal said she and her husband were cleaning out an apartment in their multi-family residence, when she came upon the Bible.
Even though Nankishorelal is Hindu, she said she held onto the authoritative Christian book because she’s resolved that “faith and spirituality are all interconnected.”
Besides, the Bible looked special, with gold-edged pages and color pictures, she said.
“I told my husband, ‘That’s valuable, you can’t throw that out. I’ll hang onto it.’ ”
And so she did. For more than a decade.
“Every once in a while I’d look at it and I’d read it,” Nankishorelal said. “It’s a really beautiful Bible.”
From time to time, Nankishorelal searched online for its rightful owner. But those initial efforts were fruitless.
The Bible had been dedicated by the elder Coney to her daughter, “Justina Marie Coney.”
Nankishorelal’s search was challenged by the fact that everyone knows Coney as Teena. Only the people closest to her would have recognized Justina.
But Nankishorelal put the information on the local Facebook group, “Straight Outta Schenectady (SOS)” on March 5. That’s when Coney’s phone began to blow up with calls and messages about the post.
Coney said she had never even heard of the Straight Outta Schenectady group.
Last week, Coney opened the Bible to show a reporter the page for Psalm 23, the verse of the Lord is My Shepherd. Coney said she had placed a black rose from her mother’s funeral on that page. The rose was still intact.
“From house to house, wherever we went, the Bible was always on a stand, always open to the 23rd Psalm,” she said, adding that being reunited with the Bible “has blessed me in a way that I should have been blessed growing up without my mom.”
She remembered reading the Bible as a child and going to church seven days a week with her siblings and cousins.
“I just appreciate her so much for returning it, because it could have been in the trash,” said Coney of Nankishorelal, with whom she pledges to keep in touch.
Coney said she also appreciated the Straight Outta Schenectady group.
Her cousin, Sondra Banks of Schenectady, went to Nankishorelal’s home to get the Bible March 5.
“I don’t even know if there are words for that,” said Banks, who was certainly due a sign of good show after losing her son, Naylon Currington, in an auto accident on Oct. 23. “It’s amazing that something of that nature has withstood the test of time. Many hands have held that Bible, and many of them are not here. It was out of this world to hold that Bible again.”
Coney vowed to “never let it out of my sight again.”