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Message in a Bottle Answered Decades Later

If your message in a bottle is answered at all, you are extremely lucky. But to have your message in a bottle answered after 28 years? That is just crazy good luck!

Message in a bottle answered after 28 years:, John and Diane Worrell. Bottle sent by William Shuford.

John and Diane Worrell. Photo: John Worrell.

John and Diane Worrell have picked up countless plastic bottles from their lakeside home in Ontario over the years–but they knew they had found something special when one turned up with paper inside it.

According to the Detroit Free Press, that paper turned out to be a message written by a 12 year old boy. When? They couldn’t tell–it wasn’t dated. And when they tried to call the phone number on the message, it was disconnected.

Message in a Bottle Answered After 28 Years: William Shuford's 1989 Note.

William’s message in a bottle. Photo: John Worrell.

Message in a Bottle Answered After Search for Sender

That’s when they decided to ask Allie Gross at the Detroit Free Press for help. Bless her heart, she is one of the rare journalists who seem to understand the deep impact that messages in bottles can have on lives–an impact unique to messages in bottles.

Well, Allie found William Shuford, the author of the note. Hurray!

John and Diane Worrell had been excited about brightening the day of a kid when they told him of their find. William was 12 when he sent his note with his father, and John and Diane figured he was maybe 14 or 15 today. In fact, William is now 40, making his message in a bottle 28 years old. He sent it most likely in 1989.

Message in a Bottle Answered After 28 Years: William Shuford Today.

William Shuford. Photo: William Shuford.

William was extremely surprised to have his message in a bottle answered, according to Detroit Free Press. It seemed to bring him right back to a different world and a different time–a time when he was growing up in Detroit, living with his two sisters and his single father, learning from him, a time when, as he told the CBC, “My dad was everyone’s dad in the neighbourhood because there weren’t enough dads to go around.”

The message in a bottle, it turned out, was born of a tradition he had with his father. Each year, on New Year’s Eve, they would visit the water at Belle Isle. According to the CBC, “When Shuford went off to college, he would get a call from his dad every New Year’s Eve. Dad was heading down to the water, where he would stare out and say a few prayers as another year began.”

Message in a Bottle Answered After 28 Years: Path of the Bottle 1.

Message in a Bottle Answered After 28 Years: Path of the Bottle 2.

Of course William grew up and carried on with his life. Today, he works as a head-hunter and AirBnB host in the San Francisco Bay area. Sadly his father passed away in 2014. Although he never got to hear of the note’s discovery, he left quite a legacy. My favorite detail from the CBC story is that William remembers seeing his dad braiding his daughters’ hair in the morning. I don’t know a lot, but I know this: as silly as it sounds, the world would be a better place if more daddies were willing and able to braid their daughters’ hair. It seems like an insignificant detail–just a daily chore. But it reveals a sweetness of heart, a simple goodness that this world could use a lot more of, don’t you think?

There are even workshops for dads happening nowadays based on exactly this idea, like this one and this one. Isn’t this the loveliest thing that ever happened? And William’s dad was way ahead of his time on this point. Well done, I say!

Message in a Bottle Answered After 28 Years: William Shuford with his dad.

William and his dad looking sharp together! Photo: William Shuford.

A Message in a Bottle Connection

Every message in a bottle answered is an opportunity, a window suddenly opened between lives.

William has now spoken with John and Diane, and, in the magic way of message in a bottles, a new friendship has been formed–a friendship that never would have been possible in any other way. If you ask me, that makes the world a measurably better place.

*There was another message in a bottle answered in the same region after 97 years. Click here for that story.

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