After Granny’s Death, Boy Inherits a Rusty Key and Discovers It’s for an Old Cage in the Attic — Story of the Day

Manuela Cardiga
Mar 23, 2022
05:20 A.M.
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As a boy, a man receives a priceless legacy from his wise grandmother but only realizes its worth when his life falls apart and he loses everything he's ever worked for.


Sam Delves loved his grandmother Edith. She was a wonderful, vibrant woman who'd brightened up his childhood with her fun-loving attitude. When Sam was 15, Gran Edith became very ill and passed away.

Sam was devastated by her death. Even though he loved his parents, it had been Edith who'd best understood him and had listened to his troubles. He'd miss her wisdom and her kindness.

Then his mother gave him an envelope. It was Edith's final gift to him, her legacy. He opened the envelope and found inside an old key.

Sam is disappointed when he sees the inheritance his grandmother left him. | Source:


"Gran Edith asked me to give this to you," his mother said. "She asks you to carry on her work. You'll find instructions in the attic, she said."

Sam ran up the stairs. He walked into the attic and looked around. He was sure the key opened some treasure box or a mysterious trunk, but all he found in the empty dusty attic was an old rusty cage.

Our greatest legacy is the wisdom we pass on to the young.

Then Sam saw that there was an envelope taped to the cage door. He opened the envelope and took out a series of photos and a letter written in his grandmother's looping hand. The photos showed turtles sitting in this same cage and basking in the sun by a lake!


Sam unfolded the letter and started reading it. "Dear Sam! I won't be with you much longer, and I wanted to pass on all that I've learned in my life. I won't be able to do that but I hope you will agree to carry on with my mission.

Sam was devastated when his grandmother passed away. | Source: Unsplash


"You see, a few years ago, I noticed that the turtles at the lake were covered with algae and I started catching them a few at a time and bringing them home so I could scrub their shells clean.

"You see, anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim. Over time, it can also corrode and weaken the shell. It's my way of making a difference."

"But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?" Sam said to himself, then continued reading.

"Sure, 99% of turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells, but for the ones who do, it made all the difference in the world. Please, Sam, keep on making a difference." 


Sam's grandmother left him a mysterious key. | Source: Unsplash

For a few weeks, Sam did go down to the lake and pick up some turtles and scrub their shells, but after a while, he found that it took a lot of time and effort and that it meant he had to give up being with his friends and having fun. 


So Sam skipped a weekend, then another, and finally he stopped going down to the lake and he forgot all about his grandmother's legacy. Time passed, much, much faster than Sam had thought possible.

Twenty years later, Sam had a small business and his own house and he was even dating a woman he thought he might want to marry when his life fell apart. The state was swept by tornados, and Sam's business and his home were destroyed in minutes.

A lifetime of work and effort was swept away and Sam was left homeless. He wandered around the ruins sobbing for days. He was filthy, his clothes were torn, and he hadn't shaved in days.


Sam was disappointed to discover the key opened a rusty old cage. | Source: Unsplash

He sat on what had been his front doorstep and cried. Then he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. There was a woman standing next to him. "You can't stay here," she said gently. "Come with me."


"It's my house," Sam said. "It's all I had. And it's all gone."

"No," the woman said. "You still have yourself, and that's what matters."

The woman, who was a volunteer with the rescue corps, took Sam home. She let him take a shower, gave him a razor and some of her husband's clothes.

When Sam came out refreshed, she served him a hot meal ad showed him the guest bedroom he could sleep in until he sorted his life out. Sam stared at the woman and suddenly he had a revelation.

A tornado destroyed everything Sam had built in his life. | Source: Unsplash


"You scrub turtles too!" he gasped.

"Turtles?" asked the woman, smiling. "What do you mean?"

"My grandmother..." he explained. "She tried to teach me...You see, she would pick up turtles at the lake and scrub the scum off their shells to give them a better chance at survival. I always thought it was a silly thing to do. What difference can it make to the turtle, right?

"But today...I'm the turtle. You scrubbed the scum of my shell so I can swim again and feel the sunlight. You've given me hope of a new life!"

Sam finally understood what his grandmother had tried to teach him. | Source: Unsplash


When the rubble of his house was cleared away, Sam dug up that old cage and he started going down to the lake again and took up his grandmother's mission. He always imagined that when he released the turtles back into the wild, they left him with a grateful smile.

What can we learn from this story?

  • Our greatest legacy is the wisdom we pass on to the young. Gran Edith hoped that Sam would understand her mission, but it took many years before he learned what it really meant.
  • A gesture of kindness can turn a life around. The woman who helped Sam gave him hope and a feeling of self-worth after he'd lost everything.

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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a girl whose father abandoned her family when she was very young and is shattered when her mother passes away. She finds her faith in God is gone until she meets the pastor.

This account is inspired by our reader’s story and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to