Days Gone By - stories from the past

Power of the internet solves a family’s 20-year-old mystery in 15 minutes

On the site Metafilter, a user posted a photo of a card that their grandmother had filled with the random letters once she became unable to speak in the final days of battling brain cancer. Within 15 minutes the code was deciphered, solving a 20-year mystery.

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.


It turns out she was using the first letters of words and writing out prayers, Below is the post where they figured out the prayer…

AGH, YES! Sorry for the double post, but:


Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name… etc etc etc

People are still working on the rest of the messages and you can follow the updates at this link Decoding cancer.

It is amazing the power of sharing information on the internet and helping others overcome their brick walls.  Especially in this case solving a family’s 20-year-old mystery and helping them discover more about their grandmother.


Vinegar of the Four Thieves was a recipe that was known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties for years. It was even used to cure the Bubonic Plague. See Thomas Jefferson’s recipe in VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past

VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past (Kindle Edition)

By (author):  Causey, Donna R

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. ditto….after 20+ yrs of many researchers trying to find our ggr gf parentage found an ancestry contact who has taken our line back 2 more generations from his 1820 dob in Alabama & established siblings as brothers vs cousins & leads creedance to his adoption at age 5 when parents died of yellow fever…..Eureka…just have to find the geneologist who has already done the work & share it with fellow researchers..still have some discrepancies to clear up but internet sure does accelerate progress vs the old day time lapses…

  2. I can see that the last sentence says: “Thank you Almighty God for ________, Thank you Almight God for Love That (or Life That)_______________, Thank you Almighty God for Everything, And , Thank you Almighty God for ?Ever?…. ” Just at a glance… I’ll look closer.

  3. At first glance of the top line (and all the “P = PLEASE…. etc) Seems to be “PLEASE DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN BLESS OUR ________________” Appears to be another prayer or a song.

  4. Truly amazing . But the Lord knew what she wrote

  5. Sandra Pugh Graham Cindy Pugh Buckley

  6. Very interesting, the mind is an amazing creation!!!!

  7. Oh, wow! What a precious message from her! Prayers!

  8. Interesting. Stanley Mcguire

  9. The reoccurring letters PSTWA – could be – please share this with all

  10. The last line, Thank You Almighty God For Everything, Amen Amen Amen.

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