When one woman came across a mysterious note in her floorboards she was hardly expecting to be moved to tears. It seemed as though her home had been hiding a secret that had laid buried for all these years, but could one note really be about to make such an impact on her life? Only time would tell.
A new beginning
Moving into a new home can be one of the most exciting times in many of our lives. As well as the chance for a fresh start, it can also be a time to recreate our entire lives. So what if the old residents left behind something that was about to change your life?
Although this family was ready for a new beginning, it looked as though the others had never truly moved out. This science teacher was about to find a note in her floorboards that would move her to tears.
Looking for clues
Melissa Fahy and her husband were ready to move into their new home on Hazel Avenue in Westfield, New Jersey, but they were in for a big project. The house seemed perfect, but they wanted to truly make it their own.
It was time to undertake a host of renovations to get the new home ready for them to move in. The family never expected to find anything unusual along the way. However, it was looking underneath the floorboards that was about to unearth a secret.
The family pulled out the envelope, and it didn’t take long to realize that it was decades old. Although the note wasn’t addressed to them, they had to know what it said on the inside. After all, the Fahys now owned the house so surely the letter belonged to them, right?
Melissa felt as though she was invading someone’s privacy. Little did she know that reading the note was about to bring her to tears and lead her on the biggest adventure of her life.
All hands on deck
Melissa had managed to rope her father in to help as they renovated their property. They needed all hands on deck if they were going to ever finish their project. Her father began working on the stairwell when he noticed something up in the ceiling.
He wondered what it was and reached up to grab a piece of yellowing paper. As soon as he got it into the light, Melissa’s father realized it was an unopened envelope. It looked as though it had been sat there for years.
A mysterious addition
There was an issue. The letter had been returned to the sender. It turned out that whoever was supposed to receive the note had never opened the letter. Somehow, it had then found itself lodged in the stairwell of the Fahys new home.
The letter was dated May 4, 1945, but that wasn’t the strangest thing about this mysterious note. The return address was to the house they were all standing in. Who had lived there before? What could have been in the letter that was so important?
Starting the search
Melissa knew she had to read the letter if she was ever going to find the rightful person that should have received it all those years ago. Unfortunately, she also knew they could be long gone as 72 years had now passed since the person had first sent the letter.
As if that wasn’t enough, Melissa had no idea how she was ever going to track them down. She took to the internet for some help. Melissa had signed up to an NJ Mom group on social media and hoped that someone would know who she was looking for.
Looking for clues
Amazingly, Melissa had to wait just one hour before she got the news she was hoping for: someone had been found! Carol Gross was also part of the group and had done some research of her own. Now, she had managed to locate Rolf Christoffersen, but there was another issue; he was a junior.
It seemed as though the senior could have already gone. As if that wasn’t enough, the family were all living in California. Melissa needed to get in contact as see if there was a connection.
A random phone call
It was in May 2017 that Rold Jr. received a phone call that was about to change his life. Although it was entirely out of the blue, Rolf immediately knew what Melissa was talking about. The confusion had arisen as Rolf had been given the same name as his father, Rolf Christoffersen Sr.
Thankfully, he had good news as his dad was still alive and would be overwhelmed with the announcement of the note. However, there was more of a story behind the aged letter than Melissa had ever imagined.
Away at war
Rolf Sr. was once signed up as part of the Norwegian Navy during World War II. However, he had a wife back at home, Virginie, who was anxiously waiting for his return. The couple used to write to each other as much as they could to fill the time that Rolf Sr. was gone.
Unfortunately, one of those letters had got lost along the way, and he never got to read it. 72 years later and it looked as though Rolf Sr. was going to get the ultimate blast from the past.
A sweet secret
The letter started off with “Dearest Husband.” It wasn’t long before Melissa realized she was reading a love letter. It turned out that Virginie was on her lunch break, and wanted to use the last few minutes to write to her husband fighting for his country hundreds of miles away.
Virginie wondered if Rolf could be missing her like she was her husband. The letter was so filled with love from the very beginning, but that wasn’t all.
A mystery condition
Virginie began to talk about being heavier on the top that when Rolf last saw her. Plus, she admitted how she wasn’t very big “down below.” It seemed as though the couple were talking about a secret they both knew, but what could it be?
Although Virginie seemed to be giving practical updates to her husband, it seemed as though someone else might not have known what they were discussing. Melissa began to wonder about the mystery condition in the letter.
A new addition
Melissa didn’t have to wait long to hear the secret; Virginie was pregnant! Rolf Jr. went on to explain that his mom was expecting his older sister while Rolf Sr. was away at war. Virginie was thrilled to be carrying a young one as she told her husband how it felt as though she always had a part of him with her.
However, the reality was that Virginie was living with her father in the house wondering each day if she would ever see her husband again.
Getting the all-clear
Thankfully, Virginie had some good news. The expecting mother went on to explain that she had been to visit the doctor who told her that everything was looking healthy so far with her pregnancy.
As if that wasn’t enough, Virginie wrote how she had no worries about their family as she knew they could all make it through anything. Plus, she was excited to start a family with her husband. Now, it wasn’t long until she would welcome their child to the world.
The sun amongst the stars
Virginie wanted her husband to know that he would always be the most important thing in her life, no matter what happened while he was away. All she wanted was to be in Rolf’s arms once again.
Virginie admitted she loved him like no one else in the world, and even compared him to the sun of her universe. It seemed as though they were living a romance usually found in the stories. Little did Virginie that Rolf would never get to read the love letter.
Using her time
It seems as though Virginie was able to get plenty of practice with words as the youngster worked as a copywriter at a local advertising agency. Virginie planned on maintaining her career while she was waiting for her husband to return from World War II.
However, Virginie just couldn’t get Rolf off of her mind. That’s why the typist would often use her lunch breaks to write her heartfelt notes to send abroad. It was her only way to hold onto her true love.
A nation at war
Virginie was right to be afraid – Norway’s situation during the Second World War was a very difficult one.
Despite the fact that it was grossly outnumbered and outgunned by the German army, Norway ended up being the nation that withstood the longest under the threat of German occupation – 62 days – second only to the might of the Soviet Union. Even after their official defeat, in fact, Norwegian forces continued the fight anywhere they could – especially on the high seas, where Rolf served.
After the German takeover of Norway was completed, they installed a puppet ruler named Vidkun Quisling, whose name has become synonymous with betraying your country.
Quisling famously ordered all of the country’s merchant navy ships to return to port, but almost all of them refused, instead seeking refuge at French and British ports. As for the actual navy, a contingent of navy ships followed the country’s king to Britain, and even participated in the famed 1944 invasion of Normandy that eventually led to Germany’s downfall.
An invaluable contribution
Other than the contributions of its army, the Norwegian people played a role that may have proven completely crucial. Like other countries under German occupation during the war, Norwegians formed a resistance movement that attempted to disrupt the Germans’ plans.
One of their most enduring victories was destroying a heavy water plant and a stockpile of heavy water – a necessary ingredient in the creation of atomic bombs – thereby dealing the German nuclear program a critical blow. This is on top of the merchant navy’s contributions to the Allied war effort.
A growing family
Thankfully, Virginie was soon greeted with the news that her husband had made it home safely. It was what she had been waiting to hear all this time. As soon as Rolf Sr. walked through the door, Virginie was ready to start life as their new family.
The pregnancy continued to go well, and they now had a little bundle of joy to welcome to their family. Amongst all the excitement, it seemed as though Virginie and Rolf must have forgotten all about the letter.
Torn by war
It may well be said that Virginie and Rolf were some of the luckier couples, as they got to be reunited at the war’s end and continue their life together, growing old next to one another as Virginie promised him they would.
Millions of couples were not so lucky. All in all, around 10,000 Norwegian men and women died as a result of the war, be they civilians or soldiers. Think of all the people who lived through the horrors of the war, only to lose their loved ones.
Tracking down the owner
Melissa finally finished reading the letter. She knew how much this would mean to Rolf Sr. and wanted to make sure he finally got the note. Melissa couldn’t believe that she was getting the chance to take a look into someone else’s relationship, and felt as though she was seeing things from an entirely different time period.
As if that wasn’t enough, Melissa admitted she had to keep rereading the letter slowly to take in the overwhelming flood of emotions.
Looking back to the past
Rolf Jr. wanted to share some of the stories he remembered with Melissa after hearing about the letter. Melissa couldn’t wait to learn about the history. Rolf Jr. explained how his parents were always in contact throughout the war, and would often send each other little love notes as a way to keep in touch.
Plus, as soon as Virginie learned she was pregnant, she knew she had to keep her husband up to date with the progress. They just wanted to make sure the other was safe.
Keeping in touch
It’s almost impossible to imagine in our modern, interconnected world, but for the vast majority of human history – even during the first half of the 20th century – letters were the main means of keeping in touch with the people you cared about.
Looking at the U.S. – a fairly technological, well developed nation – only about 36 percent of households had telephones in 1940. When we take into account that phone calls to other countries were pretty much science fiction then, that leaves letters the main means of communication.
Lost in the shuffle
In 1989, an even more extraordinary story involving World War Two letters came to light. While working on fumigating the attic of an elderly woman’s house, an exterminator named Mike Minguez found a sack with 235 undelivered letters from American servicemen, sent during the war to their families stateside.
The letters were all to be mailed by a fellow sailor who returned home to North Carolina, but he avoided his duty and hid them in his aunt’s attic instead.
A massive operation
The elderly woman allowed Minguez to hand over the letters to the Postal Service, which then wished to return them to the writers or their families. Since Federal law bars opening of mail, however, all they had to go by were the addresses on the envelopes.
Despite these restrictions, the Postal Service was able to locate 89 of the 92 soldiers who sent the letters – or their families – and return the long-lost missives. Only three soldiers – or their families – were not located.
Forced to work
As for Rolf and his family, it wasn’t long after he’d returned home that the entire family were forced to move to California. Although Rolf Sr. had fought in the war, he wasn’t entitled to the same benefits that other American veterans would usually receive.
He was forced to work three jobs as a way to pay for his growing family. That was until Rolf and Virginie discovered it would be much cheaper to educate their children across the country. They moved in 1959 but sadly lost many of the letters along the way.
An important meaning
As if being reunited with the letter wasn’t enough already, it meant more to Rolf Sr. than Melissa had ever imagined. Amazingly, it was the six-year anniversary of his wife’s passing. The 96-year-old war veteran had been living as a widow for the last few years and couldn’t wait to be reunited with a missing piece of his past.
It was almost as if Virginie was speaking to him from the beyond grave, as she knew how much they meant to each other. Now, this letter was the only one that remained.
A blast from the past
Imagine what it might have been like for Rolf, to receive this message of love and longing from his wife, whom he had lost only six years prior.
Reading the letter from her he had never seen before, it was likely almost the same as seeing her again – feeling her love for him pouring out of every paragraph, and being transported back to his days in the service, wondering whether he’d even ever see her again.
Another surprise visit
Not long after the letter arrived at their door, Rolf Sr. was about to get another visitor: the Norwegian Consul. They were the ones in charge of honoring soldiers from the years gone by, and now they were here to award Rolf Sr. with an Atlantic Star medal after fighting in the Battle of the Atlantic all those years ago in World War II.
It looked as though everything from his historical past was all catching up and once, and now he had a part of Virginie next to him to enjoy it all.
The Battle of the Atlantic
The battle in which Rolf participated, fought in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, was the longest campaign in the war’s history, beginning in 1939 and ending only with Germany’s surrender in 1945 – lasting a total of five years, eight months and five days of harrowing warfare.
On the side of the Allies – the U.S., Britain and others, including Norway for which Rolf fought – 36,200 sailors lost their lives, along with 36,000 merchant seamen who were also killed.
The Greatest Generation
Rolf was part of the “Greatest Generation,” as they were called, and was rightly recognized for his contribution to keeping the world safe.
Today, living in 2018, it seems almost inconceivable for our country – let alone the world – to be in mortal danger of falling to unspeakable tyranny, but that was just everyday reality for his generation. Rolf, and many others like him, fought to preserve not only American freedom, but to also restore it to those people who have already lost it.
Unfortunately, but naturally, the members of Rolf’s generation are a dying breed, and they are slowly but surely passing away from the world.
Official statistics state as of 2016, only 620,000 veterans of the Second World War were still alive in America, but they were being lost 372 veterans a day! The last veteran is expected to pass away in 2044, which means that in just 25 years, no Americans who fought in the war will remain alive, and it will only exist in stories.
Telling their stories
That fact taken into consideration, it’s more crucial today than it has ever been to listen to these brave men and women, and to hear them tell their tales.
They only have a few more years in which they can still do that, before none are left. It’s precisely because of the fact that most of us can’t even imagine their sacrifice, that we should listen to them as they try to tell us about it, giving us some hope of understanding what it was like.