Standing in the middle of his grandmother’s ceramics room, he looked around at everything around him. It looked like pure chaos but he knew better. This seeming chaos was just his grandmother’s creative process when she worked.
Despite how overwhelming the task seemed to be, he started to clear everything out as planned. Suddenly he discovered something that excited him. There amidst everything was a metal safe. He carefully opened it and pulled out its contents. What he discovered would rewrite what he knew about his own family.
He had always been close to his grandmother, so he was delighted to hear from her when she called him, he was always happy to help her. “Double happiness” was their family motto, which meant when one of them was happy, so was the other.
He arrived at her house and stepped into the smell of bread being baked as he opened the front door. She had called to ask him to help her clear out her ceramics room. He had not expected such a momentous task but he couldn’t turn back now.
He went to her ceramics room and tried to open the door. It seemed to be stuck at first so he pushed it open as far as he could and squeezed through the gap and into the room. That’s when he saw the task that lay ahead.
This wasn’t going to be a quick job. It was going to take all day. However, that wasn’t so bad, as he loved going through all the stuff in his grandmother’s house. He never knew what kinds of things he might find when he did. One thing was certain though, he could never have expected what was to come.
The clutter in the room was made up of pottery, paint, tools, and a bunch of other things. Looking at everything lying around he could see no clear starting point so he decided to start by making two piles, one for trash and one for things to keep.
He started putting things into either the trash or keep pile and started to make some headway. Soon he noticed something in the corner. Taking a closer look he knew that it might contain something interesting. What it did contain, however, was something he was not prepared for.
Against the one wall stood a wooden closet. However, there was so much clutter in the room that he couldn’t reach it. He would first have clear a path to closet before he could open it. There were several pieces of wood up against it, blocking its doors.
He could see that the cupboard was old, however, it was also clear that no one had gone near it in a long time. He was intrigued by the closet, so he started to work his way toward it. He wanted to know what it held, though he would come to regret finding out.
After some work, he finally reached the closet, clearing junk away from its door so that he could open it. Inside he found only more clutter. He felt disappointed when he saw nothing but junk, but since he was there, he started to clear out the closet.
The contents were things that his grandmother had collected throughout her life. However, as he cleared out the closet, he found something at the bottom of it. Some of the boards appeared to be loose. He slowly pulled them up and his eyes beheld something that immediately made his excitement come flooding back.
The slats in the floor of the closet would clearly come away easily. It was clear that they had been designed to offer a hiding spot. This old closet was specially designed with a false bottom. As exciting as it was, he had to wonder about this strange feature.
Why would someone have created a false bottom in this closet? He carefully continued to clear away the debris, feeling both excited and oddly guilty. After several minutes of work, he has finally cleared everything away.
He lifted the slats and looked inside. He brushed away a bunch of dirt and noticed something metallic inside. In the middle of it, he saw a small, round piece of plastic, which immediately helped him to identify the object. A combination lock safe!
His actual task immediately forgotten, he went to tell his grandmother about the find but she told him that she couldn’t remember anything about it. Naturally, this only made him more curious about it. Since his grandmother couldn’t remember anything about it, he would have to break it open. Little did he know what he was about to discover.
Knowing how unique a situation this was, he grabbed his phone camera and started to document his adventure. In the end, he would upload it all to Imgur using the name “Todirerl”. He called in his father and together they pried the mysterious safe open.
Once it was opened they eagerly peered inside. At first, it didn’t seem like they had found anything interesting. However, as they pulled out more and more of its contents, they started to think twice. They were about to learn more about their family than they had expected.
The rusty safe was medium-sized, and he expected it to be filled with valuables. But as he opened it, this wasn’t the case. At first glance, he saw old pieces of paper and a bundle of black cloth.
Still, the mystery of such find had his heart racing. As he began going through the contents, he knew he had stumbled upon something unusual. But still, questions raced through his mind. Who put everything in this safe? Whose was it?
He looked closer and saw that one of the papers said, “Abandon All Regret Ye Who Enter Here.” You may recognize this as a quote from “Dante’s Inferno,” but with ‘regret’ instead of ‘hope.’ That’s when he knew who this safe belonged to.
The safe was his late grandfather’s. And it was filled with incredible mementos. But then he saw an insignia that was all too familiar to him.
The symbol on the black cloth got everyone’s attention. They had seen it before but could not place where. He took a picture of it and went back to show his grandmother. That symbol had been etched in his memory since he was a little boy. He knew it must be something of importance.
Could it be the family’s sigil? But still, his grandmother couldn’t place it. There was a lot more left to explore though, and Todirerl was going to find many more surprises.
He began to carefully unfold the black cloth, then he realized that there were items tucked into it. He found two photographs, a leather pouch, a pen, a plastic box, and a lamp. But it was the photographs that made him realize just what kind of treasure he had in his hands. The contents were worn and rusty, but it seemed like he had just traveled back in time.
As he looked closer at the photographs, he could not believe his eyes! This was a lot more than he could have ever expected from an old closet.
The picture showed a lady who was dressed in the clothing of the time it was taken. Todirerl later realized that this woman was indeed his grandfather’s grandmother!
He couldn’t believe it, so many years and generations had passed. He was over the moon with his find. But his discoveries weren’t about to stop there.
He saw the next photograph and chills immediately flew down his spine. How could this possibly be? The second photograph was of a man wearing a dapper suit and round glasses, holding a pipe.
The man turned out to be his grandpa’s father. The pictures were worn and yellow, with moisture damage at the corners. But they were an invaluable heirloom. And yet, those weren’t the only items that told the story of this incredible family.
Everything he found in the safe had an incredible value for the family, this meant they were learning more about their roots and were in complete awe when they kept opening compartments and finding more unusual items.
He also went on to find a gold pocket watch in a pouch. But was anything worth some money? As he wondered, he turned the pouch over and little pieces of paper came tumbling out. Was this the answer to his question?
He turned to see what mysteries these papers held, and when he did, he covered his mouth in disbelief. There, right in front of him was a pristine collection of stamps. He soon realized the stamps were from many countries, and some of them didn’t even exist anymore.
He found stamps from the Soviet Union, Zaire (now Congo), Katanga (now a province of Congo), and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (a territory disputed with Morocco), among others. These were souvenirs from his late grandfather’s expeditions. But then, he noticed the white plastic box.
He opened the white box. At first glance, it looked like a lot of coins from a long time ago. He could not believe how incredible that day had been, starting with a call from his grandmother to now delving into his family’s past.
But then, as he began to sort out the coins, he stumbled upon something that made him immensely proud to be part of the family he had grown up in.
The coins, like the stamps, also hailed from a wide range of countries and eras. There were coins from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), New Zealand, Jamaica, Pakistan, Cuba, and Venezuela, among others.
Some were quite rare, like a 1921 silver dollar from the U.S. which is thought to be worth a lot of money. But there were other things in the box worth even more from a personal perspective.
Aside from the coins, the plastic box contained a WWI medal and a pin with a crest, presumably given to the man’s great-grandfather after serving in World War I. The crest was particularly interesting, as it showed a lion that could either be the coat of arms of Norway or the royal arms of Scotland. One commenter suggested it was given by the British Empire to Commonwealth troops who served in combat.
But that was not all; when Todirerl posted all his findings on the internet, commenters knew the insignia that was on the black cloth. It’s a Chinese character for the word “double happiness” which was always their family’s motto. Now they know where it came from!