Mystery solved: Dying grandmother left message of faith



For nearly two decades, a family has been trying to decipher index cards filled with seemingly random letters by a beloved grandmother dying of brain cancer.

This week, they posted them on AskMetaFilter with this explanation:

My grandmother passed away in 1996 of a fast-spreading cancer. She was non-communicative her last two weeks, but in that time, she left at least 20 index cards with scribbled letters on them. My cousins and I were between 8-10 years old at the time, and believed she was leaving us a code. We puzzled over them for a few months trying substitution ciphers, and didn’t get anywhere.

The family has guessed that the letters represented song lyrics, “based on some of the repeating segments.” But in her final, lucid hours, their grandmother — who would die before she reached 70 years of age — wasn’t thinking of pop songs that were played in their Minnesota house “in the 50s, 60s and early 70s.”

She was praying.

It took only a quarter of an hour for somebody to crack the “code.”

Harperpitt, a communications specialist from Washington, D.C., found a solution in the repetition:

Was she a religious woman? The last As, as well as the AAA combo, make me think of “Amen, amen, amen.” So extrapolating — TYAGF = “Thank you Almighty God for…”

It would make sense to end with “Thank you, Almighty God, for everything, Amen – Thank you, Almighty God, for everything, Amen, Amen, Amen.”

The family was grateful: “Holy cow! 14 minutes to solve the back of the card that has been bugging my family for 20 years! That is amazing!¬†I never thought of her as super religious, but we did grow up in a Lutheran household, so that makes sense.”

That prompted numerous stabs at other letter combinations on the index cards. One poster, who likes codes and found the puzzle irresistible, offered this solution:

Since no one has done this yet, I will. Here is a complete decoding of the “Our Father”. There is one letter, however, that doesn’t match up. In the sequence that should be “give us this day”, she wrote “FUTD”. Either that F should be a G or she was thinking of a different word.


Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.

F? us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses


as we forgive those who tresspass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil


For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen

imgurGrandmasCode2To read all the suggestions, go here.

h/t Slate