For 17 years, a letter from a former first lady of Minnesota remained unopened, tucked away in a secretary desk drawer in the governor’s residence.

It was discovered this year by Hope Walz, Gov. Tim Walz’s daughter, as the first family moved in.

“Everyone in the house came around because it was kind of like finding that message in a bottle,” First Lady Gwen Walz said in an interview with WCCO-TV.

The message, written by former First Lady Terry Ventura, “was a lovely, lovely letter,” Gwen Walz said. “It talked about the privilege of serving as Minnesota’s First Lady and all [Ventura’s] different emotions — being excited and scared and thrilled.”

Each time she passes Terry Ventura’s portrait, Gwen Walz said she is reminded of the note and “how insightful and helpful and connecting it is.”

Former Gov. Mark Dayton also left a letter for Tim and Gwen Walz, and Dayton’s two sons left a separate letter for the Walz children, Hope and Gus, Gwen Walz said in the WCCO interview.

Tim Walz said he’s grateful for the advice and assurance from the handful of Minnesotans who’ve balanced family life and the governorship.

And finding the unexpected letter on one of the first days in the governor’s residence?

“It was an amazing gift,” Gwen Walz said.