There is an old Buddhist adage that says, “Three things cannot stay hidden—the sun, the moon, and the truth”. From the looks of things, it seems like the Buddha was right. As these Redditors discovered, family secrets that are kept locked away—even for generations—always seem to surface. Keep reading to hear the shocking truths that were revealed.
1. What May Not Have Been
When my brother and I were young kids, our mother confessed a tragic secret. Turns out she had been married before meeting our dad. Her husband lost his life in Vietnam or something service-related when she was only 21. It blew our minds that we may not have existed. I now see why we were not told about this sooner. It also explained the mysterious birthday cards we received from "grandma's neighbor", who was actually the mother of the deceased.
2. The Flame That Fed The Fire
I burned down the backyard, and everyone knew it was me. I was seven or eight, had no babysitter, and was experimenting with matches and cotton. I started a backyard grass fire but had no hose. I called my mom crying that hobos threw lit matches over the fence, and I tried to extinguish it. For 22 years, they let me believe I had gotten away with it.
At the time, they seemed to believe me. Mom faked a babysitter, and neighbors whispered, but it all settled down. It turns out that this whole time they knew I burnt down the yard. The fireman knew it, the neighbors, parents, they all just let me believe it and kept it a hilarious inside joke amongst themselves until the night I went to admit it. It was my most important confession, and they all cackled with laughter.
3. Something Was Bugging Me
We had a cockroach problem when I was a kid. We kept putting down traps and spraying stuff around the house but could never figure out where they were coming from. As time passed, my parents decided I needed a new mattress for my waterbed, so we drained it. My dad pulled up the mattress and started freaking out at a horrifying discovery. I was in a separate room, so they thought I didn't hear, but the roach nest was under my waterbed mattress.
It had a pinhole leak which created the perfect environment for them. Since I wasn't in the room, all I was told was that something went wrong when he was draining it, and water sprayed everywhere. However, I heard them talking quietly about how THAT must have been why I had so many sleeping problems and why cockroaches were crawling on me while I was asleep. I try not to think about it often.
4. Survival Tactics
My dad was the one to discover the heartbreaking truth about our family origins. He find out that my grandpa had survived the Holocaust. My grandpa was from the Czech Republic, and after WWII, he moved to the US and raised my dad and his siblings as Christians. My dad had no idea my grandpa was Jewish, let alone a survivor of the Holocaust. Then, one day when he was in his mid-twenties, my dad was walking on his college campus, and my grandpa’s friend recognized him and told him about our family's past. My grandpa hid it because he wanted to protect his family and become successful in the States.
5. Misjudged Mystery
The real reason my aunt moved back to my hometown was she that was briefly abducted by some bad guys she had displeased while working as a judge. This guy held her against her will and told her she could either leave town in the next 24 hours or be taken back in. I was about eight at the time, so everyone just told me she moved back because she missed us all. I found out about it when my brother and I were rehashing old stuff ten years later.
6. Conception Deception
My cousin is adopted, but for years we kept it a secret because she didn’t know. I was talking about it with my dad one day because I couldn’t believe she didn’t know. During the conversation, he let it slip that my older sister was conceived using donor sperm. After a moment, he added that I, too, was conceived using a donor.
Our two younger siblings, however, were not and were completely unexpected. It turned out that my older sister knew, but my mom made both my sister and dad promise not to tell me. I’m not entirely sure why I wasn’t supposed to know, but they managed to keep it a secret until I was 22 years old.
7. Nothing To Hold Me Back
I struggled a lot when I was in school. In 4th grade, I was placed in special education classes and tested for a slew of disabilities. My mother was told the best they could expect from me was to maybe graduate high school and that I would be lucky to get into and graduate from a training program. My mother told me this on the day I graduated with honors from a state university with my bachelor's degree. She said she kept it a secret and never told anyone, let alone me, because she didn't want me to feel like my future wasn't my own.
8. Staking A Claim
My father's siblings and their families don't talk to us anymore since my grandmother's passing. I was told that they were just too busy working and doing their own thing to hang out like we all used to. On the off chance I saw them, I would always be the first and only one to say "hi" and try to catch up. About the time I was 18, I was told the real reason they didn't talk to us anymore.
They had turned their backs on my grandmother when she was on her last legs and about to lose her house. So, my father stepped up and tried to convince his siblings to help save the house and help with the medical bills. They turned their backs on her and my father, so my father ended up buying the house and restoring it.
When my grandmother passed, my father's siblings tried to "claim their piece of Mom's money" even though they didn't do anything for her when she was losing her life. To this day, they refuse to associate themselves with my father, mother, sister, and me.
9. Grandma’s Little Secret
I learned that the grandfather I grew up with was not my biological grandfather. I found out when I was in my early thirties after he had passed. My grandmother told me the night of his wake that he never got over his anger at the Catholic Church for refusing to marry them since she had already been married once. I responded, “Wait, what?"
She replied, “Oh, you didn’t know that papa wasn’t your biological grandfather? I guess you just learned something about yourself today!" But that wasn't the only shocker. I then learned that my grandma’s first husband was also not my biological grandfather. Turns out my mother was actually the product of an affair. I found that one out via an Ancestry.com DNA test.
My biological grandfather and uncle coincidentally took the test as well and popped up as “closely related”. My new uncle then contacted me, thinking he had solved a different family mystery of his own, and I asked my mom if she knew anything about the family. When my mom asked my grandma, my grandma spilled the beans. My biological grandfather also didn’t know.
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10. Danke Shame
My great-aunt ran away with an American serviceman back in the day. She was engaged and on a pre-marriage trip with her fiancé in Germany when she met an American and ran away with him. She left her fiancé in Germany to travel back home alone and tell her family that she had eloped. My family cut her off and never spoke to her again.
Then, when she was older, she went back home penniless, with her children staying in the US. She wanted to live with her widowed mother, who was living on a very small pension. In a mysterious turn of events, no one knows what happened to her after her mother passed. I found out about this all at a family gathering.
11. Saved By The Barn
My grandmother was the illegitimate daughter of a state assemblyman. I thought that was almost kind of cool until I found out that he marked her as deceased on her birth certificate. He likely never acknowledged her until her mother and sisters passed—probably in a flu epidemic—then he took her into his home. There, she worked as a maid for him, his mean wife, and their children.
She finally met my grandfather at a barn dance and was able to leave that house. She was the sweetest, most generous small-town lady out there. I would never have known she had a difficult life in her youth. She never talked about it, and I don't think even her own children knew the whole story until she was in her nineties and genealogy became a hobby for someone in the extended family.
12. Switched At Birth
I found out that the people I thought were my parents were actually my grandparents. My actual birth mother—the person I was raised to believe was my eldest sister—got pregnant at 14 and had me. She basically wasn't ready or prepared to raise me, so my grandparents adopted me and raised me as one of their own. They're my mom and dad and always will be.
I was around ten when I found out, and it all came out in the worst way. It was during a fight between my parents. There were drinks involved and a lot of shouting. I was trying to get them to calm down and stop screaming at each other when Dad let slip, "Well, why don't you go ask your real mother?” The way he said it was filled with venom and hurt. He left my mom and me to talk about it.
My mom told me the whole deal then. She mentioned that my sister wanted so little to do with me one night that she literally left me on the doorstep and walked right over me to go on a night out. Apparently, the rest of my mom’s family didn't approve of her taking me in, and for that and a few other reasons, we moved across the country for a fresh start.
We don't really talk to them anymore for unrelated reasons. My "sister" also had another kid, someone I thought was my nephew but is actually my half-brother. We were basically raised like brothers. We used to play with my action figures and create elaborate plots and characters that would go on for days. I know my birth father's name, but I don’t really have any desire to meet him. I'm told that he was a bit of a player and that I probably have a few more half-brothers all around the country.
13. Endo Wasn’t The End
When my health started doing poorly, I asked my mom if we had anything going on in the family related to the uterus, and she snapped at me, saying, "I don't know anyone that has any major pain because of periods, maybe it's just you". I was forced to move out not long after despite not being able to attend work regularly enough and having trouble with money because of it.
A year later, I learned from my aunt that she had endometriosis, and one of their sisters had fibromas. She also informed me about an aunt on my dad's side that also had a lot of problems with cysts and endo. The aunt I was talking to is very disliked by my dad because of her health problems; he's always seen her as pathetic and weak. That's why nobody helped me out.
I confronted my parents about it and was told that if I needed help so badly, I could go see my aunts. I was later forbidden to talk about my health in the family home because it would make my dad really angry. I'm still in a blind rage about it. I can't even explain why they didn't tell me.
14. The Mistakes Of Youth
I was the family secret. My biological parents started having kids as teenagers. When my biological mom found out she was pregnant with me, she was 21, and I was their fourth child. They quickly realized they needed to get their act together. They were already struggling financially, had countless substance issues, etc. So, they were forced to make a difficult decision.
They decided that they were going to put me up for adoption since I was a baby. I was adopted by a loving family quite quickly, who lived only about an hour's drive from the city I was born in. Coincidentally, I ended up returning to that same city for college. In my sophomore year, I decided to seek out my biological family. It turned out that my biological parents separated right after I was born.
My biological mom is still in and out of prison to this day, but my biological dad was able to start a new chapter. He got clean and sober, remarried, started going to church, and built a legitimate career for himself. He told his new wife about me when they first met but didn't tell any of his children. My other siblings didn't know I existed.
Thanks to the internet, I ended up tracking down his work number and gave him a call. Later on, he told me that as soon as I said, "Hi, this might be really weird, but", he knew it was me. Apparently, ever since I turned 18, he and his wife were waiting anxiously for me to resurface. They knew the day would come eventually. That evening, they sat my siblings down and told them about me. It was difficult at first, but now I'm 25, and he and I have a pretty solid relationship.
15. They Put Education First
My parents forged my birth certificate and lied to me about my actual birth date until I was a teen. When I was close to kindergarten age, my parents found out that I was born two weeks too late to be able to attend kindergarten. I was born on September 15, and the cut-off was September 1. To them, this was unacceptable because they thought I was ready and another year of preschool and entering kindergarten at almost six would be too late.
They photocopied my birth certificate, covered the number five from 15 with Wite-Out, made a copy of the now fake birth certificate, and took it to a family friend who notarized it for a good sum of money. The elementary school had no clue it was a fake, so I got to start school early. From then on, they celebrated my birthday with me on the first in order to keep me from spilling the secret as a kid.
I didn't find out until I turned 15 and applied for my driver's license permit. Obviously, it's a crime to forge documents like this, especially for something like a driver's license, so on our way to the DMV, my mom rather anticlimactically handed me my paperwork and the real birth certificate and waited for my reaction. It was kind of a shock, and 16 years later, I still say a little happy birthday to myself on my now fake birthday.
As far as school goes, no one ever found out, and I ended up being home-schooled in high school anyway and getting my GED. I also found out by eavesdropping that my mom faked her knee surgery when I was 14 and actually got her bosom enlarged. She went from tiny to huge. It was the worst-kept secret. I had fun watching her pretend to limp with an Ace bandage on her knee when in actuality, it was her chest hurting.
16. Sacrilegious Secret
My very religious mom was three months pregnant when she got married. She never lied about it, I just didn't do the math right until I was about 20. She mentioned it was almost her 22nd anniversary, and I said, "You mean your 23rd", and she just said, "No....my 22nd". The "talk" my grandmother had with her went something like, "No one will want to marry you if you aren't a virgin".
She figured she was engaged, so that was a moot point. Her mom was mad and wouldn't talk to her for a while. Her dad, who was a Deacon, replied, "Well, you aren't the first, and you certainly won't be the last, so it is what it is".
17. The Second Time Around
My dad is my mom’s second husband. The first marriage was not necessarily hidden, it has just become forgotten and was never spoken about in front of my siblings or me. When I figured it out and asked my mother, she explained that she married rather young, following the Asian tradition of arranged marriages. Her in-laws were strict and demanding, which left her unhappy and wanting more in life than becoming a housewife. She divorced and started studying abroad, where she then met my dad. They’ve now been happily married for almost 21 years.
18. Fallen Idol
My grandfather had an affair with an English woman back in 1941, when he went to study there, and fathered a daughter with her. Unfortunately, he showed his true colors when he left them both and came back home. Eighteen years after his passing, my aunt, grandmother, and mother found out about it after my aunt saw the daughter in a picture. They contacted her, and both parties shared their connection to my grandfather. She said he left her and the mother and didn't even try to contact them again. It was really sad because I looked up to my grandad, and this really dampened his image in my eyes.
19. This Secret Was Buried
I was lied to about what happened to the cat I had back when I was about 14–16. They told me he probably ran away. At that age, I was fully emotionally capable of handling the truth. I only found out about a month ago that he got run over by my grandpa, who lived in the house across the street from us. They buried him in his backyard. My cousin let it slip when we were talking about my mom getting a pet.
20. Two-Sided Tale
The secret that was kept from me was that my biological father is really, truly, an amazing and upstanding guy. My mom always told me horrible things about him, like that he tried to off us, and then her brothers wanted to "take him into the woods". She also said that he left because he couldn't handle me and would get angry at me when I was learning to pull myself up on stuff.
She made him out to be a monster for not paying child support and for suddenly breaking contact when he remarried and had more children. Meanwhile, I bawled my eyes out every night for years because I wanted a dad and not the horrible person she married years later. I constantly asked why my letters to my real dad were never answered—she probably never sent them.
I grew up with a HUGE complex about not being wanted, which was made worse by my mother. She made it very clear that she thought I was the biggest mistake of her life, and she still says that to this day. She is the definition of a harmful parent. I always wanted to reach out to my dad but was too scared. I finally did and was thrilled. My mom kept prying, trying to find out what we were talking about because she knew she was being exposed.
I had to ask my maternal grandmother a few things to verify the accuracy since they were wildly different from what I was told growing up. It was only then that she laid out the whole grisly truth. Turns out my dad had desperately wanted to stay in my life. The man even offered to pay my mom's rent so he could live next door. He tried many times to contact me and sent me gifts that I never received.
My paternal grandmother was key in all of this. For whatever reason, my mother allowed me to stay in contact with her and fly out and visit her. There must have been some sort of agreement about keeping my father at a distance because he was never mentioned. Yet, in her will, she wrote that I got a certain amount of dollars from my father's portion of the inheritance.
She didn't write anything for any other grandchildren. The saint that she was, she was making one final attempt to reunite us. So, I flew out for my paternal grandmother's funeral and met my dad for the first time. His current wife and my aunt told me at every opportunity about how much he felt lost without me, how he had desperately wanted me in his life, and how he had repeatedly said that there was a giant hole in his heart without me.
They were able to say what we were too emotional to tell each other. My mom should have known that the sudden stop in child support and contact meant that something was seriously wrong. She should have reached out to learn what was happening. She probably did. He was stuck in a really rough situation when his then-wife was struggling mentally and wanted him to have nothing to do with me.
He used a secret account and payphones to be able to send what he did. He tried and went above and beyond. My maternal grandmother knew the situation. All this came to light when I was about 27–28. Now I know it all. It changes how I view some things. Unfortunately, my complex about being unwanted is very deeply rooted, and I still cannot function socially very well. As it turns out, I consider my dad's family to be where I belong. I wish I could erase my mother and keep the rest of her side of the family.
21. A Semi-Truth
My wife and I were reminiscing about our childhood pets one day. When I shared how hard it was when my cherished dog had to be put down, she got to thinking. All of her childhood dogs were hit by semis. Normally, the thought of a dog getting loose and being run over by a semi-truck wasn’t that far-fetched, however, it had just clicked with her that her childhood home was in the countryside down a long gravel road.
The nearest highway was really far away. She decided that the next time she talked to her dad she would find out what really happened. After all, she was now an adult and could handle the truth that a seven-year-old couldn't. But the truth was darker than she ever imagined. Her dad just sort of smiled and said, "Oh honey, I never lied to you. Your childhood dogs were indeed hit by a semi...a semi-automatic".
22. Spam Of A Lifetime
I found out my dad was previously married before my mom, and that my brother and I had a half-sister. I found this out because my sister found me on MySpace. My mom claims she knew about the marriage but not the daughter from it. One day, I got a MySpace message asking some personal questions. I assumed it was spam and ignored it.
There was another message soon after that made me think it was an actual person and got me to pay attention. I politely told them to leave me alone. Then, the person messaging me said that she thought we might be related. I had to laugh because this was a good farce, in my opinion, and it really had me thinking. The problem was that the person was obviously Asian, but I was not.
Finally, after a few back-and-forth messages, this person asked to call me. I figured, "What do I have to lose? I can entertain myself for a bit at work and see how the deception plays out”. I figured she would just ask me to wire her money, but I was wrong. I got the call, and she knew my name, my brother's name, my mom's name, and most importantly, my estranged father's name. I never really spent time with my father, so this was surprising.
Her voice was really familiar, but I couldn’t place it. It turned out my father was in the Army overseas and met a local woman. They fell in love, he moved back to the US with her, got married, had a kid, and got divorced. The ex and her daughter moved back overseas, THEN he met my mom, and they did almost exactly the same thing, producing my brother and me.
However, he never told my mom anything other than he was married once before. We never knew about our sister and due to the divorces, we never really saw our mutual paternal family. My sister came back to the US and went to school here. Her family told her that she had two younger brothers in the city we lived in. Over time, when she started her own family, she wanted to know us and started using MySpace and Facebook to find us, eventually succeeding.
As if the shock of gaining a sibling during my break at work wasn't enough, she put me in touch with my paternal grandmother, with whom I hadn’t had any contact since I was a toddler. That same day, towards the end of my work shift, I called the number my sister gave me. An old woman with a southern accent answered the phone. I said "Hello," and introduced myself.
Before I could say anything else, she said, "I love you so much. I never stopped thinking about you and your brother, and I always prayed I would get this phone call". This whole episode was the beginning of my relationship with my sister, her extended family, and my paternal grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Despite the thousands of miles we live away from each other, we all share some strikingly similar personality traits, features, and mannerisms.
23. Tracing The Steps To Her Illness
My mom's youngest sister passed of epilepsy when she was 21—or so I always thought. On New Year’s Eve, however, my mom told my cousin and me how she became an epileptic. When she was around two-and-a-half, she fell down a flight of stairs. She missed every step except the bottom one. She had a gash going across her forehead, from temple to temple, and my grandfather butterfly-taped it shut.
The effects were instantaneous. She wasn't right in the head after that, and when she was 15, the epilepsy began coming through. My grandpa thought she was on dope, but she wasn’t. She was just sick. I also found out she had a kid somewhere along the line but gave it up for adoption.
24. Religious Freedom
A great uncle of mine, who is now deceased, was involved in a high-stakes case that went to the Supreme Court level and made case law. It was later adapted into a plot line of The Sopranos. I learned of this when I was investigating my family history via Google in order to analyze their immigration history to claim Polish nationality so I could earn working and residence rights in Europe.
My great-uncle was an Orthodox Jew living in the United States. When he married his wife, they made a binding promise that in order to get a divorce, the couple must formally do it in a religious ceremony in a synagogue. If they didn’t, then under Jewish law, they aren't technically divorced, and neither party could remarry.
After 22 years, my great-uncle and his wife got a divorce in a civil court. However, he refused to go get the official religious divorce, leaving his wife in a state of marital limbo. His wife met a new man she wanted to marry but couldn't marry in a Jewish ceremony without it. My great uncle's wife sued him in order to compel him to get a religious divorce.
25. Hoping For A Happy Ending
My grandmother recently passed. At her wake, a woman I had never met or seen before showed up and spent a lot of time chatting with my uncle—the same uncle who, at 62, had never married. Ever since I was old enough to know what it was to be gay, I just assumed he was and was not open about it because of my grandmother. Obviously, this woman was just a close friend or something. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the heartwarming truth.
Turns out the woman was my uncle's first love. They had met many moons ago, he decided he loved her, and wanted to get married. He told my grandmother that, and she forbade it because the woman was Jewish and we were not, so he broke it off. More than 40 years later, they were still close—she never married either.
Not only is my uncle apparently not gay, but he also seems particularly good at holding a grudge. I'm no longer secretly hoping he has a boyfriend somewhere but that the two of them, who have been holding out this whole time, can finally be happy together.
26. Third-Party Adoption
I found out that my cousin is adopted, and her "mom" isn't even my uncle's first wife. My uncle couldn't have kids of his own, so his original wife left him. As a single man in Korea, he adopted his friend's sixth daughter because his friend didn't want another girl. He married another woman shortly before coming to America. We're all adults now, and this came out fairly recently when her "step-mom" got angry and, while ranting, alluded to the fact she was adopted. It was a pretty crazy revelation.
27. My Family Was Faking It
A few Christmases ago, I overheard my mom and aunts talking about how the family thought I was a problem child and had made the worst mistakes. I was about 23 or 24 at the time. In my eyes, my family had always been extremely supportive and loving toward me. So, it was a horrifying shock to hear that they all thought I was the worst of all seven kids and cousins.
I don't know if it was because I was extremely depressed around the age of 19 or if they just had high hopes for me that I didn't live up to. I am a relatively skilled artist and pretty smart, but I never finished college, and maybe they thought I'd be some bigwig by now or something, I don’t know. I am a happy, functioning adult in a nine-year relationship and have a job I actually love. I guess if that's not good enough for them then it's their problem. It definitely changed how I view my whole family, though.
28. The Truth Was In The Picture
I found out that my grandma was actually my step-grandma. When I was about 14, I was looking at an old picture of my father as a toddler with his mother and said, "Hmm, that doesn't look like grandma". My mother then told me that my dad's mother passed when she was in her forties. One would think maybe Dad would've brought that up at some point in my life, but he didn’t.
I wasn’t lacking for a grandma, so it didn't matter that she wasn't blood-related. But I really wouldn't mind knowing more about my biological grandmother. My dad barely remembers and never talks about her, so it’s a little frustrating.
29. Double Discovery
I have a half-brother from my dad, and I’ve known about him since I was five. He’s 15 years older than me and was from before my parents even met. However, I learned that there is a possibility that I may have two more siblings, also from my dad. I found out from my mom when I was 15. My dad had received a call from a woman he knew a long time ago, way before he met my mom.
She told him that her twins, who were now adults, were probably my father’s children. This turned into me learning that my father also has half-siblings and other “half-relatives”. My mom only told me because she was trying to make my father out to be a bad person to justify her two-year-long affair.
30. Grandma Almost Got Rid Of Me
My mom was almost forced to abort me by my grandmother. Apparently, while my mom was married to my dad, she cheated on him with his best friend after he had slept with a woman a state over. This also led to me having a sister I have never met and didn’t know about until I was 20. My mom got pregnant by the friend, and my grandmother took my mother to get an abortion.
Everything was then all hunky-dory for a couple of months. Then, things took a strange turn. My mom took this weird hiatus, and she was pregnant again. Everyone thought it was the best friend’s, even though she and my dad were together that whole time. But to Grandma, it was personal. She found out, was mad, and worried about what everyone in the community would think of her family.
She demanded my mother abort it. My dad stepped in to claim me after finding out. I was with my dad on a camping trip, and he told me all this. It turned out my brother knew for years beforehand. My mom told him about it and asked him not to mention it. We were both also raised by our grandparents, so it made Thanksgiving very awkward.
31. Like Looking In A Mirror
When I was 59, my parents visited. My mother couldn't get it out, so my dad explained that she had run off with an older school teacher when she was 15, been the subject of a large and well-publicized search, and eventually returned pregnant. Her daughter was adopted and never spoken of. I believe my dad knew since he's known her since she was three.
This all came up because my half-sister found them! It was pretty amazing. We get along well and like many of the same things. Looking at my mother and half-sister next to each other is astounding. Their movements, clothing choices, hobbies, many aspects of speech, and something fundamental but hard to describe, are all essentially identical!
32. Lost In Translation
I found out my cousin's dad isn't really his dad, but he doesn't know. It was news to me when we took a trip to Mexico, and his mom kept his passport away from him the whole time. During that trip, all the cousins were passing together through immigration and customs, and my aunt gave me his passport to hold. She told me not to give it to him or show it to him.
When I saw it, his last name wasn't his dad's last name, which I always thought it was! I told my sister and other cousins about it, and they apparently already knew this. My mom told me not to tell my cousin about it. I was the last of the cousins to find out. The poor guy adamantly believes his current dad is his biological father.
I can only assume that his mom refused to teach him or let him learn English so he wouldn't learn the truth. He is 30-something years old, and whenever he wants to open up a credit card or bank account, his mother has to go with him to "translate" his paperwork.
33. Dad Got Around
My dad cheated on my mom multiple times. He was even living a double life with a girlfriend in a different state. I found out about his philandering ways when I was 16. It was around 1am, and the authorities called my house. They didn't bother to ask for my mom, but they did inform me that my dad had been taken into custody that night for soliciting a hooker. Years later, after my mom passed away, my dad admitted to his double life but still maintains his innocence for the night mentioned.
34. Unidentified Family Offspring
I was the oldest of three kids, or so I thought. At my grandma’s funeral, when I was 30, I met a nice woman who had grown up on my grandma’s street. She was fawning all over me and talking about how beautiful I was and such. I mentioned her to my mom later, saying, “Nice lady....a little weird”. My mom then thought it was as good a time as any to tell me that the woman was the mother of my older half-sister.
Apparently, my dad got the girl down the street pregnant when they were 16. They were from Catholic families, so they made a heart-wrenching decision to put the baby up for adoption at birth. It apparently ruined this woman’s life. She’s been trying to track down the child on adoption sites and celebrates her birthday every year without any luck. It is truly crazy to know you have an unidentified family member out there. I hope to somehow meet her someday.
35. It Was A Setup
I found out several years ago that my grandfather was set up to be held up and was murdered. This was in the late 70s on the Lower East Side. It was my aunt’s sister who set him up. He used to run numbers in the bars on the LES, and she knew he’d have a bunch of dough on him. He was stabbed and later passed from the wounds. He blasted one of the assailants during the incident. My aunt went full bipolar, and during a routine family event four years ago, she told me everything.
36. My Cousin Spilled The Beans
I have an enormous family and live in a decent, average-sized city. My cousins and my nieces, who are my age, and I all ended up at the same private school, which was small. When I was 13, I was at dinner with my nieces and family, and one of them told me one of our cousins was talking about me and spreading rumors. Turns out my niece revealed a shocking secret: I was adopted.
I went home and told my mom about it. She denied it, and we never spoke of it again. I eventually started to learn about genetics in my 8th grade class and started asking my parents questions about the way I looked. Some months later, my mom was pretty hammered. It was just her and me at the house, and my dad was gone.
She came into my room and confessed to me that I was adopted. I have five siblings, and all the people old enough to have remembered my adoption were told not to tell me. My parents wanted to tell me together when I was 18. However, this cousin’s family and mine had a lot of drama. I have my theories as to why my cousin, who would not have been old enough to remember my adoption, was eventually told.
37. Russian Revelation
I was recently let in on a shocking family secret. After my paternal grandfather was released from Siberia circa 1953, he couldn't find his family. They had moved to Poland 11 years earlier when he was placed under arrest. So, he met someone else, and they had a daughter. Months later, he found my grandmother. She then went to Russia and convinced my grandfather to leave this woman and baby daughter and come back with her to THEIR three children.
He did and never heard from the other family again. Nobody ever mentioned this to any of us until last year, when my father casually mentioned it as an, “Oh, yeah, by the way, you might have a half-aunt living somewhere in Russia”.
38. Filet Of Fishiness
When I was a kid, we went to California on a vacation. My father's company paid for us to stay at the Ritz Carlton. I was probably about eight or nine years old, and they sent me on a deep sea fishing trip for the day, and I caught a fish. We brought the fish back to the hotel, and because the Ritz Carlton is such a high-class hotel, they offered to filet the fish and bring it up to my room via room service, which they did.
Thirty years later, I found out that the fish I caught was no good, and they just used one from the hotel. What makes the story funny is that every few years, I would bring up how cool the hotel was on the vacation to filet my fish, and my family just kept this story going.
39. Double Dealings
My great-grandfather led a double life—he had two families. He kept them apart, and neither knew about the other. Both families lived on the same street, had the same number of members, and all of the members had the same names. He kept this up until he passed, and then everything came unraveled. My half-family was surprised when my relatively well-off great-grandfather bequeathed everything he owned to another family with the same name.
Even today, the disparity between the two families is clear in terms of social and economic wealth. The other side has been bitter about it for generations, and rightly so. My grandmother had kept relatively quiet about it until someone in our family started digging through Ancestry.com. After many interesting stories, both sides agreed to meet again a few years ago. We are now in touch fairly regularly.
40. The Truth Came Out
I was about 15 when I realized that my grandfather was gay and that he wasn't allowed to discuss or reveal this to my siblings or me. The thing about this situation was that he wasn't really great at hiding it. I was just that oblivious and believed the excuses my parents made. He used to volunteer at a theater, which explained what my parents dubbed his "Halloween" closet.
In reality, Grandad was into drag. He worked at a health clinic helping HIV/AIDS patients, which totally explained the books on his bookshelf, like Men on Men. I figured the books helped him relate to his patients or something. Then there was the giant two and half-meter (eight-foot) painting of a shirtless fireman over his bed. I actually don't remember how I explained away that one.
One day, my boyfriend mentioned something offhand about my grandfather being gay, and it was like a lightbulb the size of the sun went off—the rainbow bumper stickers, the books, the fireman painting. He passed a decade or so ago, and I wish I'd been closer to him. He did a lot of really amazing things for the gay community that he lived in, and I didn't even know about most of it until after he was gone.
41. All In The Family
I found out that my grandmother used to be my dad’s wife before she was my grandmother. My father’s mother, my true grandmother, passed when my father was 21. My grandfather never remarried. My father married a woman named Robin and had two children—Jason and Clay. My father and Robin divorced shortly after Jason was born.
Soon after their divorce, my grandfather married my dad’s ex-wife, Robin. Nobody spoke of this until my grandfather passed, and my two half-brothers showed up at the funeral. It was weird to find out I had 49 and 46-year-old brothers. Thank God Robin and my grandfather never had children, otherwise I’d have a tough time finding birthday and holiday cards, specifically for Bruncles and/or Auntsters.
42. Cleaned Out
While we were giving her last rites at the hospice, I discovered that my grandmother's house wasn't looted by strangers. It was my crazy estranged aunt, who everyone assumed was still locked up at a mental facility. She took everything—jewelry, heirlooms, handmade cedar trunks full of handmade quilts, my grandfather's medals, cash, savings bonds, the will, the safe, toilet paper, and the light fixtures.
The absolute worst part was that she had everything hoarded into her rental apartment, had a psychotic break, doused the entire house in gasoline, threw a Zippo down the stairs, and climbed in bed. Obviously, that made for a deadly situation. The fire department rescued her by cutting the window out of the second story. All six trunks—one for each of the children—were destroyed.
The entire complex of about six apartments was a total loss. They didn't know she had everything until the Marshall contacted my mother. Thousands of dollars and priceless heirlooms were just gone because of one woman's crazy selfishness. My grandmother had written her out of the will years prior for attempting to poison her.
That's the reason I never saw her after I was about six. I didn't find out until my oldest cousin, who knew Grandma had left us all cash boxes, asked me if I ever received mine. I said "no", and she said, "Well, you can thank Aunt Crazy again for that one".
43. Learning From The Past
My dad was an addict. I knew he drank a lot, and my mom and my dad's side of the family both told me he just had a drinking problem. But they were all hiding a shocking secret. My parents divorced when I was about six years old, and he lost his life while drinking and driving a few years later. I don't remember how it came up, but my grandpa—Mom's dad—thought I already knew, so he casually mentioned it when I was about 16.
When he saw my shocked and angry face, he explained the history and why we lost our dog, truck, TV, etc., when I was younger. There was a dealer who was trying to get his payments back. Many years later, I've never done dope, and I'm sure never to binge drink or drink multiple days in a row. Addiction runs strong in my family, and I've been able to stay safe knowing that.
44. Sister Swap
I found out one of my aunts had an arranged marriage. She wasn't the one who was supposed to be in the arranged marriage, but her sister was adamant against marrying the dude. I guess my grandma decided to persuade my aunt to replace her sister in the marriage. My aunt and the dude got married, moved away, and had kids. They lived far away, so I barely ever saw them, but only as I got older I learned that the guy was terrible to my aunt, to the point where she still had some intense mental breakdowns long after he passed.
45. The Baby In The Cupboard
My dad tried to run out on my mom while she was pregnant with me because he’d been embezzling money from a photography club at his workplace where he’d been treasurer. It was all about to come out because the club needed the money, so my dad decided to cut and run. Unfortunately for him, things didn't go according to plan. My mother’s brother and father caught him by pure accident as he was leaving the house.
My grandad, a burly Scottish coal miner, got him by the throat and told him if he ever pulled a stunt like that again, he’d be a goner. My dad, according to the story, wet himself right there. My grandad paid the money back to the club so that no one found out because if they did, not only would my dad have lost his job, he’d most likely have been imprisoned too.
My mom could never trust him with money again, and so although they had a joint bank account, she had them limit his access and made a separate account to control the bills, etc. She went back to work so she could always support herself, which in those days in rural Scotland was really uncommon. In that area, most women were stay-at-home moms.
My mom went back to her job as a primary school teacher, and I spent the first few years of my life sleeping in a basket in the stationery cupboard of her classroom because there was no childcare back then. At my mom’s funeral, some of her former colleagues were still coming up to me, saying, “Oh, it’s the baby in the cupboard!"
46. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
My aunt is now an incredibly successful scholar and author, but when she was a kid she was very slow to start speaking. Until she was about seven, she couldn't form words in a way that others could understand. She could read and write, she just couldn't talk. I had a great aunt who I always loved. She and my grandmother—her sister-in-law—never got along.
I just figured it was because they had very different personalities. But it was all because of a shocking secret. It turned out the reason my grandmother didn't like her sister-in-law was because when my aunt was a kid and couldn't talk, my great-aunt pushed hard for my grandparents to just put her in an institution for the mentally challenged. I only found out about that this past Christmas. My great-aunt had been deceased for ten years, but it was a shock to learn something like that about her.
47. Who Knew?
When I was a kid, I remember my dad reading me The Grinch after I begged him to, and he fell asleep in bed next to me. The next day, my mom said he was in the hospital, and he had been there for a little while. I remember visiting him and asking why he wasn’t home. It wasn't till I was in my teens that I realized the horrifying truth of that night. My dad had taken sleeping pills that night and had almost lost his life in the bed beside me when my mom found him unresponsive. He survived, but the knowledge that I could have woken up to my deceased father has always stuck with me.
48. She’s Alive!
I grew up with an older brother and sister. I was the baby by quite a few years. I loved them both but always got along with my brother better. Around the time my sister had gone to college and my brother was heading off to college, I stopped getting visits from him and nobody would talk about him. No matter how much I asked, neither my parents nor my sister would talk about it.
All his pictures were taken down, and my extended family knew nothing. I honestly thought he was no longer alive or my parents had chopped him up into pieces and hid him in the floorboards. The brutal truth made me see my parents in a whole new light. It turned out that my brother is transgender and was now my sister. It took until I was about 17 or 18 for my parents to finally tell me.
My other sister still won't talk about it. I'm just so happy she's alive, well, and actually happy now. We get to see each other more often, and we're even closer now. I don't know if I'll ever forgive my family for hiding it from me. I never got the choice to be there for her or for her to be there for me. I still can't believe they did that to her.
49. The Horror Of It All
My dad’s friend took his life in front of him. My mom ended up telling me about it a few years ago, but I never knew the details of it until this Christmas when I finally heard the story from him. It happened back in the 60s in Mexico, when my dad was about 16 years old. They had a couple of hours between classes and were free to go anywhere.
One day, my dad went with some friends to this one kid's house. This guy came from a very wealthy family, and months before, his little brother was hit by a car. It was a very serious accident, so his parents paid to take him to Houston, TX, where he would have better care. His mom was with his brother, and his dad worked all the time, so he was never home. So, they had the house to themselves.
They were at that age where it was cool to just sit around and smoke and drink coffee, so that's what they were doing in the living room of the house. They could have never forseen the tragedy that came next. The kid said, "Hang on, let me show you something cool". He went upstairs and came down with a revolver. At first, he pointed it at my dad and everyone and squeezed the trigger. It was empty, so it didn't do anything.
It scared them, but they all realized he was joking. Then, he took a slug that he was holding in his other hand and put it in the chamber. He spun it around, closed it, then put it up to his head and squeezed it. There was a click, but nothing happened. Then they saw as he pulled the hammer back again, and the cylinder cycled where the slug was in the chamber, and he did it again.
This time it made a bang. His body fell limp behind the couch where they couldn't see him. After he didn't get up, they looked over the couch and saw the blood. One of the other kids had a mom who was a nurse, so he ran across the street to get her. It was too late. My dad spent the rest of the day being interviewed by the authorities and was finally let go when it was clear that he had no involvement aside from being there.
50. His Childhood Was Secret For A Reason
I was the only one who didn't know what happened to my grandfather. When I was young, I was always curious about why I only had one grandfather. Anytime I asked my dad about his dad, he would just brush me off or dance around the subject. As I got older, I realized it was a touchy subject for my dad, so I just never asked. I assumed he had passed, but the truth was far more tragic.
Then, one day when my older brother moved back home, we were talking and he told me what happened. When my dad was about seven or eight years old, he came home from school, and his father called him into the living room. He told my dad that he loved him and then blew himself to bits in front of my father.