SHERMAN OAKS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 90-year-old widow in Sherman Oaks received an early Valentine's Day gift from her late husband when a complete stranger delivered a long-lost box of love letters.
"It's really an incredible love story, right from the beginning," Merryl Alpert told Eyewitness News after reading several of the letters. "It just brings me back to the old days. I'm young again. I read these letters and I'm young again."
Alpert was surprised to learn that hundreds of letters she and her husband David sent to each other from 1948 through 1953 not only still existed, but were preserved by a man who discovered them in a house he was told to clear out.
"I just thought of that movie 'The Notebook,'" said Al Escobedo, the man who found all the letters. "I'm like, I'm gonna try to find their family members and I was able to find them."
Alpert had stored all the letters in the couple's Beverly Hills home for roughly 50 years. But when they moved in 2007, the collection of love notes was left behind. Alpert assumed they were thrown out.
That's where Escobedo comes in. He was a house painter hired by the new home owners to get rid of everything left behind.
When he saw the letters and started reading them, he knew they meant something to someone. He just didn't know who.
"I didn't have the heart to throw them away," he said.
So he and his daughter spent the next 15 years preserving the letters and trying to find the two lovebirds. When they spotted David Alpert's obituary online, the mystery was solved.
Alpert and Escobedo met in person for the first time Thursday, when the widow greeted him with a big hug.
"I'm 90 years old. You just brought me back to life," she told him. "I'm starting all over."