In what could be the best Christmas present ever, Mari Lou Valley has her life back. When the suitcase of the Vancouver, B. C., woman was stolen from a Greyhound bus in September...

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In what could be the best Christmas present ever, Mari Lou Valley has her life back.

When the suitcase of the Vancouver, B.C., woman was stolen from a Greyhound bus in September, she figured she’d lost all the pictures chronicling her life from the Philippines to Vancouver, B.C.

She was both shocked and excited when she got a call yesterday telling her a construction company had found the precious album in debris in South Seattle.

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“I felt I have gotten back my life,” said Valley, 58. “Now I can show it to my friends, what I had achieved in my lifetime.”

Valley, who works in sales, said she was taking a Greyhound bus from Vancouver to San Jose, Calif., in September. Rushing to get aboard the bus she allowed another passenger to put her bag containing the album in the bus luggage compartment. But when she transferred buses in Seattle, the bag was gone.

She said she didn’t care about the clothes and other items she lost but was devastated to lose the album. She had carefully crafted the book using dozens of pictures of her childhood to show relatives what she was like when she was young.

The album includes a photo of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos on the inside back cover. Marcos, Valley said, was her godmother when she married in the Philippines.

The little-damaged album was discovered several weeks ago by cleanup crews working with RCI Herzog, which is working on Sound Transit’s light-rail project. Valley’s name was inside the album, but Herzog officials could not find her and put out a public appeal.

The pictures inside included birthdays, baptisms and marriages and one showing Valley being crowned Miss Med Tech at a Manila university.

Rather than toss it in the trash, Herzog officials wanted to try to find the owner of the album and chased down leads with little success until yesterday. A friend of Valley’s father saw articles about the album in The Seattle Times and contacted the paper yesterday to provide information.

“I’m really glad it’s her, and she’ll get her memories back,” said Lauren Robison, with RCI Herzog. “I’m thrilled and extremely relieved.”

Valley said she will come to Seattle soon to retrieve the album and will meet with Robison.

Valley doesn’t know how her album ended up in the construction site near Rainier Avenue South but figures a thief dumped it.

She believes the thief may regret taking the album and may be crying about it.

“I know I am,” she said.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or