Shopping at Goodwill or any other thrift store can yield either disappointment or some fantastic finds. Bringing your average haul home and then learning that it’s way above average becomes fantastic.

When Sara Redlich visited her local Goodwill store in Hillsboro, Oregon, she knew she had found something extraordinary: a stack of love letters addressed to a woman named Rosie Hill. They were postmarked with the year 1973 and were mixed in with some military papers.

Sara brought them home with plans to find the rightful owner, but never quite got around to it. She kept them because she knew they meant something to someone. Five or six years later, she took the time to track down Rose Hill using social media, and learned she still lived in Oregon. But Rose’s memory wasn’t what it used to be.

In this interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Rose explains that over the years her memory has begun to deteriorate, but doctors don’t have answers. She wasn’t even aware that the letters existed, but was hopeful that they could offer a glimpse into her past. As it turned out, the letters were from her ex-husband, written when he was in the navy during the Vietnam War.

Rose and Joe Hill married not too long before he was whisked away to Japan. What’s interesting about their love story is that they actually first met at a strawberry farm when they were 12 years old. They kept in touch over the years and bumped into each other many years later when Joe was on leave. They married shortly after.

It was while he was stationed in Japan that Joe wrote to “Rosie”, and the two remained married for forty years. Now divorced, they have one adult son and are still friends. By reading those old letters, Rose has been able to piece together some fragments of her old life. She and Sara were both extremely excited to meet one another and bond over the Goodwill find.

You know how it is when you read a good book and you feel like you’re there? It’s the same feeling Rose has when she combs through these old writings. Click on the video below to hear more about Sara and Rose’s meetup and what’s in the letters.

It’s amazing that these lost love letters connected two strangers who have now formed a new friendship. For Rose, she hopes to form a picture of her younger self as she battles her memory loss. In a way, the letters are like a storybook that describe a part of her history.

While thrift stores like Goodwill can be sources of newfound treasures, sometimes they are also the recipients of accidental donations. Fortunately, there are sweet people like Sara Redlich who are determined to return cherished possessions to their rightful owners. Not everything belongs in those bins!

What do you think of Rose’s story? Have you ever found a sentimental piece of history like this at a thrift store? What did you do with it?