Nov. 15, 2012 at 3:43 PM ET
It’s a love story that could melt the fiercest skeptic, a relationship that spanned decades and survived a long-distance courtship and, more recently, Hurricane Sandy.
A stack of 56 letters, tied up in a pink bow, washed ashore the beach in Atlantic Highlands, N.J., when Sandy struck the area. The 14-year-old son of Kathleen Chaney made the discovery during a walk the next day as they assessed damage from the storm.
Chaney said she immediately recognized what her son, Patrick, had found when he showed them to her.
“I’ve watched enough romantic movies. Yeah, I just knew,” she told TODAY.
Chaney took the wet stack back home, dried each letter on the hearth of her fireplace, and began to read.
“My darling Lynn, don’t feel like sleeping so I thought I’d write you a few more lines. Guess this is about the third letter I’ve written to you today,” writes Dorothy “Dot” Fallon to her boyfriend, Lynn Farnham.
Fallon wrote all the letters while she was attending nursing school in New Jersey and Farnham, who was in the Army, was in Vermont. Her correspondence chronicled their life from 1942 until the week before their 1948 wedding.
“Really Lynn, it doesn't matter where we live, as long as we can call it a home of our own,” she writes in another letter.
Chaney said she was determined to find the author after reading through all the notes.
“She would just go on for pages of how much she adored him and how much she missed him, how life was unbearable without him,” Chaney said. “It was just so romantic and beautiful.”
Chaney eventually tracked down the couple’s niece, Shelley Farnham Hilber, through an online genealogy site.
“Lynn and Dottie were always very affectionate with each other,” Hilber said. “She had a habit in the morning when she'd get out of bed, just as she went around the bed to just reach down and wiggle his toes a little bit, like, okay, time to wake up.”
The couple had two children. They remained together until Lynn died of cancer in 1992. Dottie, now 88, lives in a nursing home and remembers very little of her "Darling Lynn," said Hilber, who plans to read the letters to her aunt during her next few visits.
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