Many people think a “message in a bottle” is just a myth, a thing made up by old pirate movies, but they’re real. There are many stories of beachgoers finding old washed-up bottles on the shore and realizing there’s a message inside—maybe even one written decades ago.
These messages have a unique way of bringing strangers together and reconnecting us with the past.
But one couple’s journey to reunite a message with its author resulted in a particularly unexpected, yet heartwarming, twist ending.
Aimee & Josh Gelinas, a couple from Afton, Oklahoma, recently scoured a Grand Lake beach with their tractor, hoping to find some interesting artifacts.
“In the off season we like to go down the shorelines and look for unique driftwood pieces,” Aimee told KJRH.
But among the driftwood, something caught their eye: a glass bottle … that seemed to have something inside.
“It was a clear bottle with some markings on it. Inside it looked like there was a rolled up message,” Aimee recalled to Grand Lake News.
“Josh opened it, as he started unrolling it, we could see that there was writing on it.”
The couple was initially skeptical—but it really was a true message in a bottle.
And it was from 1993.
The 25-year-old message had contact info: Sarah Hendrickson, a 14-year-old girl, with an address in Woodbridge, Virginia. It also mentioned she attended Grace Baptist Church.
The couple immediately started searching for Sarah, who would now be an adult woman, to reunite her with her childhood letter. However, the search proved more difficult than they imagined, as the standard Google and Facebook searches came up short.
So they sought professional help. They enlisted the aid of a Facebook search group called the “Search Squad,” and reached out to local news outlets with their story, hoping that Sarah would see it.
“I hope she reaches out to me,” Aimee told KJRH.
“I think I would even travel to get it to her wherever she might be just to see her face.”
But then, a miracle happened:
The search group found Sarah.
Sarah Hendrickson was now Sarah Lindgren, and she was living in Joplin, Missouri. Aimee reached out to her on Facebook. She was thrilled to have found the mysterious woman at last.
“I got the goosebumps all over, and I said I cannot believe I’m talking to you,” Aimee recalled saying.
While all the info added up, there was a twist:
Lindgren didn’t remember writing that letter at all.
In fact, her father was in the military, so she wasn’t even living in the area at that time—she was in a camp in North Carolina.
But then, Lindgren took a look at the handwriting on the note—it wasn’t hers, but she recognized it.
“Oh, my God,” she said.
“It is my grandmother’s handwriting!”
Lindgren’s grandmother, Fay Hendrickson, lived in Carthage, Missouri, at the time, and she apparently sent out a message in a bottle in her granddaughter’s name into the Spring River. She most likely wrote one for Sarah’s brother as well.
“I don’t know why she would do this,” Lindgren told Grand Lake News. “There’s no rhyme or reason.”
Unfortunately, there’s no way to ask her: Fay died 13 years ago.
“I truly believe though, whatever reason grandma had, she’s still with me,” Lindgren added.
“Reminding me that what gets lost, does eventually get found.”
It meant a lot to have the bottle back, in part because she has so few possessions to remember her late grandmother by.
“Most of the stuff I have of my grandparents, I’ve lost over the years,” she explained. “But what I do have left is mainly my grandfather’s.”
“It’s nice to have a piece of my grandmother’s. Something she did specifically for me. It really means a lot.”
She placed the old bottle on her shelf among old family photos.
The bottle not only reconnected her with her late grandmother—it also brought her a new friend.
“With Aimee it was an instant connection,” Lindgren told Grand Lake News. “It’s just truly been an amazing connection.
“I’ve made a new friend.”
The two women have decided to write their own message in a bottle together, along with their granddaughters when they turn 14.