Internet Cracks Grandma's Mystery Code in Minutes

She filled cards with cryptic letters in her final weeks ... 18 years ago

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 23, 2014 3:43 AM CST | Updated Jan 26, 2014 6:15 PM CST

(Newser) – A cryptic mystery left by a dying grandmother puzzled a Maryland family for nearly 20 years before her granddaughter turned to an Internet forum for help. "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," Janna Holm wrote in a MetaFilter thread, Slate reports, explaining that family members had spent months trying to crack the code using substitution ciphers. Within 15 minutes, a user figured out that Dorothy Holm had been writing prayers.

"AGH, YES! ..... OFWAIHHBTN ... Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name," the user wrote after examining a sample card Janna Holm had posted. More Metafilter users figured out that the grandmother had written a personal prayer for her loved ones to be safe and happy. Holm says the code-breaking has left family members amazed at the power of crowdsourcing. "It was kind of relieving to have an answer, even if we don't know what every single word says," she tells the AP. "It's nice to know that they were prayers, and kind of gave some insight into what she was thinking and what she was focused on in her last couple weeks."

This family photo shows Dorothy Holm.
This family photo shows Dorothy Holm.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Janna Holm)
This family photo shows the front of an index card filled with letters written by Dorothy Holm.
This family photo shows the front of an index card filled with letters written by Dorothy Holm.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Janna Holm)
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