Receiving a letter from a loved one who has passed away seems like something from a dream. But for one family, mail that was delivered more than three-quarters of a century late was a reality that provided a bit of unexpected happiness.
The U.S. Postal Service recently discovered an airmail envelope at a Pittsburgh mail facility dated Dec. 6, 1945. The letter from Sgt. John Gonsalves, a 22-year-old Army soldier stationed in Germany, was addressed to his mother back home in Massachusetts.
Although it is unclear where the letter was all these years, postal employees that discovered it worked diligently to find Gonsalves’ family. They were able to deliver it to his widow, 89-year-old Angelina “Jean” Gonsalves, just before the holidays, along with a letter explaining the surprise mail.
“We are aware of the passing of your husband in 2015 (our condolences),” wrote Stephen D. Stowell, a worker at the U.S. Postal Service’s processing and distribution center in Pittsburgh. “By virtue of some dedicated sleuth work by postal employees at this facility, we were able to determine your address, hence this letter delivery to you, albeit 76 years delayed. Due to the age and significance to your family history, delivering this letter was of utmost importance to us.”
John died in 2015 at age 92, but while he and Jean enjoyed more than 60 years and raised five sons together, the couple didn’t even know one another John wrote the letter.
“I would have been 13 when John wrote it,” Jean told the Washington Post.
However, the letter was very special to the family.
“It was a weird feeling,” Jean told the Washington Post, “like he was standing there, reading it to me.”
“It was a joy to see her face light up reading his words,” Brian Gonsalves, Angelina and John’s son, told CNN. “To be able to see her read something he wrote and look back at that history, it’s something she’ll always have now.”
“They’re just not sure what happened, and I guess it really doesn’t matter,” Jean revealed to the Washington Post. “I’m just so happy to have it.”