By Carol Moorman
The Star Post
Article reprinted from The Star Post newspaper with permission
Bernice Ebnet of Holdingford could not believe her eyes.
After receiving a piece of mail with a return address “Sent from Heaven,” Dec. 26, 2019, she opened the envelope to find a handwritten letter to her from her mom, Rose Stoermann, along with the poem, “I’m spending my first Christmas in Heaven.” It was a pleasant but unusual surprise because Rose had passed away March 25, 2019, at the age of 97. What made it more ironic was that Bernice’s sister Joan Dobmeier had died Dec. 25, 2019, the day before she received the letter.
“It was bittersweet,” said Bernice, glancing at the letter in her mom’s own handwriting. “It’s like mom was talking to us from heaven.”
The “to us” includes Bernice’s siblings and in-laws – Raymond of St. Rosa, Ellie Boecker of St. Rosa, Diane Middendorf of Sauk Centre, Roger of Melrose, Marvin of Holdingford, Shirley Stoermann of Melrose, and Allen Dobmeier of St. Rosa – each received a personally written letter along with the poem, all with the return address, “Sent from Heaven.”
At the encouragement of friends, who called the letter special, Bernice figures now is a good time to share their heartwarming story.
The story starts when Rose decided to write these letters to her grown children. Where she got the idea and when she wrote the letters no one knows. And who she gave all of the completed letters to with directions when to mail them is still unknown.
Bernice has no doubt their mom wrote the letters that were signed “Happy memories. Love for the rest of your days. With love from your Mother Rose.” The handwriting is identical to their mom’s handwriting on a recipe card Bernice has that is on a wooden plaque hanging in her rural Holdingford home where she lives with her husband, Herman.
To this faith-filled woman, the letters truly were heaven-sent because they arrived the day after their sister died.
Bernice talks about how Joan’s health deteriorated rapidly around Thanksgiving. The Ebnets visited her two days before Christmas.
“She was sitting up in bed and talking up a storm,” Bernice said. “I thought she’d maybe be OK.”
They said goodbye, telling Joan they would be back on Christmas Day.
It was a busy Christmas Day for the Ebnets who went to listen to their grandchildren sing in the choir at St. Benedict’s Church in Avon. The Ebnets and family went to Charlie’s Pizza in Little Falls for a free-will offering meal, something they had done before. They stopped at the cemetery in Little Falls, trudging through snow and finding Herman’s uncle’s grave. With chores to do and a Christmas Day visit to see Joan on the agenda, they headed home, only to find a message from Bernice’s brother, Marvin, saying Joan had died that morning.
The next morning, Herman went to the mailbox and handed Bernice a letter saying it was sent from heaven.
“I thought ‘Joannie’s not gone a day yet, and she’s sending me mail,’” Bernice said.
She rationalized it must be someone thanking her for something she had done or donated to. Opening it, and seeing what was inside, she told Herman, “It’s a letter from mom.”
Bernice was speechless as she read the undated, personal letter with words that only her mother would write. The poem was signed “Rose Hilda Austing Stoermann” at the end.
Bernice immediately called her sister, Ellie Boecker, who also received a letter from heaven that same day, as did their other siblings.
“Joannie got a letter, too, but Allen (her husband) waited to read it until his kids came over,” Bernice said. “It was a letter from Mom to Joanie.”
It did not surprise Bernice that everyone received a similar letter because their mom treated everyone the same.
“And I could see her sit by the table and do that,” Bernice said of their mother who loved to play cards, especially solitaire, during her years at Pine Villa Nursing Home, where she loved living out the remainder of her days.
Bernice said their mom was always reading and often had an encyclopedia by her side.
“She was very laid back, the sweetest lady, my Mom,” Bernice said. “She never ever got mad at anybody. She’d just walk away.”
The letter remains in a prominent place in the Ebnets’ home, and Bernice reads it often.
“I still get emotional,” she said.
In the back of her mind, she wonders who mailed it. But that goes by the wayside when Herman reminds her that her mom probably did not want her to know.
“He tells me I will find out when I talk to mom in heaven,” Bernice said.
Christmas 2019 is one Bernice and her siblings and in-laws will never forget, receiving a letter like this so soon after Joan passed away.
“It’s heartwarming knowing Joanie got to be in heaven with mom on Christmas Day,” Bernice said. “This was the best thing that could have happened, getting a letter from mom in heaven.”
A special thanks to Star Post for permission to reprint this article.