The Truth Always Comes Out: Dark Family Secrets Exposed
There’s something about the family structure that encourages secrets. Husbands hiding things from wives, mothers from children, and generation from generation. No clan is left untouched, and even families that seem happy and normal on the outside will sometimes be hiding dark secrets behind closed doors. These people on Reddit spilled the beans on the things that their families have tried to keep hidden. Whether it’s a forbidden affair, a long lost relative, or a chilling double life, these people prove that nothing—and we mean nothing—is ever as it seems.
#1 Sister Swap
I found out that one of my aunts had an arranged marriage. She wasn’t actually the aunt who was supposed to be in the arranged marriage, but her sister was adamantly against marrying the guy. I guess my grandma somehow persuaded my aunt into replacing her sister’s part of the marriage. My aunt and the guy got married, moved away, and had kids.
They lived far away so I barely ever saw them. Only as I got older did I learn that the dude was abusive to my aunt, to the point where she still had some intense mental breakdowns long after he was gone. I guess her sister was right.
#2 Ancient History
My grandpa doesn’t know that his dad’s passing was caused by a drunk driver. He was only two when his dad passed, and can’t remember any of it. The only thing he said he knew was that he thought it involved a truck. I found the newspaper article about my great-grandfather’s passing when I started digging into my grandpa’s family tree.
#3 Dark Deeds
My Uncle Joseph is probably a terrifying criminal. He was a major suspect for the West Mesa Bone Collector. He has also been convicted of even worse crimes. One day, Uncle Joseph was just sort of out of the picture and no concrete explanation was given. At the time, I was young enough that I didn’t think to particularly wonder about the details.
#4 Scandalous Great Grandma
Great-grandma ran a “hotel” in the late 1800s near a train depot and army fort in the Oklahoma territory. Turns out it was a brothel. Great-grandma was a madam! She must have been good at it, because she left a lot of money to my grandma.
#5 Secret Sister
When I was a kid, I knew my grandfather was odd. He’d call me his grandson even when I was wearing a dress and clearly female, but my parents would tell me to ignore it. Then I found out that when my dad was a kid, grandpa had sold my dad’s sister Barbara to someone, and kept my dad and his brother because he didn’t want a girl in the family.
My dad found his sister Barbara around the time I was in middle school, through making some calls and getting access to records. They were reunited, and she’s my favorite aunt now. No one liked grandpa.
I’m not sure how my dad discovered this, but he found out he had a secret older brother, his parents’ oldest child (Ron, if I remember right, named after his dad). When Ron was preschool-aged, my grandparents were told he was mentally disabled. Horrified, they turned him over to the state and never spoke of him again.
Years later, they learned the truth. Word got back to them that the kid was not, in fact, disabled; he had “auditory dyslexia”(now called auditory processing disorder). He grew up to be a fully functioning, independent adult. He refused to have any contact with the family when my dad reached out. I don’t blame him at all.
#7 When Forgiveness Doesn’t Seem Like a Good Idea
When they were grown, my dad and his younger brother learned that their father had assaulted their sister on multiple occasions and threatened her to keep her quiet. She didn’t tell anyone until long after it all happened. Later, she reconnected with her father…and allowed him to meet and spend time with her children. She’s more forgiving than I am.
My uncle met his wife during the time he was using substances pretty heavily. She was an, ahem, “lady of the evening.” They have two kids now and they’re great parents, nobody would ever guess that they have a rather dark past. They haven’t let it visibly affect them at all.
#9 Long-Lost Son
I was the family secret. My biological parents started having kids as teenagers. For context, 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 abuse issues, etc. They decided that they were going to put me up for adoption when I was a baby.
A loving family adopted me quite quickly, and we 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. During my sophomore year, I decided to seek out my biological family. It turns out that my biological parents separated right after I was born. My biological mom is still in and out of jail 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 said 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.
#10 The Felon Granny
It’s disturbing in a way: My great grandmother went into the military after committing a crime, and in the military, she confessed to a judge. He punished her by extending her military contract and forcing her to serve in the war. I never knew what happened until way after she passed when I asked my dad about it. My jaw dropped when I learned the truth.
There was a man in her neighborhood who was touching kids and going after boys. My grandma beat the snot out of him when she saw him try to lift two boys.
#11 Baby In The Cupboard
My dad tried to run out on my mum while she was pregnant with me, because he’d been embezzling money from a photography club at his workplace (a government institution) 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. My mother’s brother and father caught him by pure accident as he was leaving the house, and 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 dead.
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, as not only would my dad have lost his job, he’d most likely have been jailed too. My mum 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, so there was no such thing as childcare for kids under four. Mum 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 in her classroom.
At mum’s funeral, some of her former colleagues were still coming up to me, saying, “Oh, it’s the baby in the cupboard!”
#12 The Victim
All the lies unraveled after my grandfather passed. My mom finally admitted that when she was a kid, he’d touch her. I was pretty shocked, especially since my mom didn’t seem to carry any kind of baggage from it, though of course, I don’t know what went and still goes on in her head. Something that made sense though was how she always made sure my brother and I always slept in her room whenever we stayed at Grandpa’s place, which wasn’t too often.
We were never alone with my grandfather, and we never had a warm or loving relationship with him. He was cold to us and we never really got attached to him, and we visited him maybe once a year. I think my mom felt obligated to have a relationship with him for some reason, but she was always very protective of us and my brother and I were never victims of his.
#13 Bad Grandpa
My grandfather is a killer. His victim was one of his co-workers when they were installing power poles on roads in Alaska before it was a completed town. He was investigated but they couldn’t prove it. I guess he did it because the guy wouldn’t pay a $5 debt owed for liquor brought in. My grandfather was a horrible human and he got away with everything.
Until he ended up with colon cancer that he didn’t get checked out and he passed of cancer weighing about 78 lbs. Alone.
#14 The Cheater
My sister’s fiancé passed very suddenly and very tragically from a heart attack. She was 20, and he was 23. It turned out that he had an underlying condition. In the months following his passing, she found out he had been cheating on her basically since the start of their three-year relationship. Some women were long term and knew about her, others were just casual one-night stands that probably didn’t know.
She kind of went off the deep end a little, because now she was not only mourning a man she loved; she also had to deal with this fact without being able to ask him for answers. Silver lining though; she ended up dating and marrying one of his good friends. They sort of bonded in the aftermath. He is the best thing that ever happened to her and vice versa.
They will be married for three years this summer.
#15 Paranoid Delusions
I had a brother who had some paranoid delusions (FBI, CIA following him, spying on his apartment, etc.). My brothers and I tried to get him help and he would just have no part of it. After a few years, it seemed like it had gotten better. He stopped bringing it up and we felt like it must have just passed. After he passed, we found his journal and it was just horrifying.
Right up until the night he passed, he detailed all of the abuse that they were inflicting on him. I can’t go into much detail—it’s hard for me to write about. Briefly, he believed that they were using some type of focused energy beam. They focused on different parts of his body at different times. Every noise that an appliance made was proof of electronic surveillance. Every bump on the wall or person walking in an adjacent apartment was a message from either the “bad” FBI agents or the “good” FBI agents.
It was just incredibly disturbing to read what an awful life he was living inside his mind while acting relatively normal outside.
#16 Hidden Truths
My mom was raised by her mom and her stepfather, who touched her inappropriately. Where was dad? He passed when she was 11, or at least that’s what my grandmother said. This would have been around 1961. Flash forward to 2015 and my sister is doing genealogy work on the family. She finds out my biological grandfather not die in 1961, he passed in 2005. But it gets worse.
He had five more daughters, one of which he gave the same name as my mom. So, my mom got cheated out of a potential relationship with her dad by her liar of a mom (who moved and remained hidden from her ex, my mom’s real dad). My grandmother moved down to Texas from Virginia to stay in a nursing home and to basically make my mom and dad’s life terrible.
We went to visit one weekend and she came over for dinner. I dropped the facts on her that we’d figured out she’d been lying for 50 years. She then had the nerve to act offended. My dad told her to shut up.
#17 The Siblings
I have nine siblings. We all share the same father. I only knew about seven of them until my dad passed. I found out that two of my “cousins” were actually my brother and sister. My father had cheated on his then-wife with her sister. So those kids were born out of wedlock. When my mother passed, I figured out that my sister (whom I thought we shared the same parents with) was fathered way before they met.
My only full-blood sibling is my twin. I’m only close to him and my sister. The other half-siblings get along well with us but we are not close.
#18 A Mother’s Greed
My friend’s mom got rid of her husband. She had taken a $200k life insurance policy out on him six months before he passed, and he passed from not taking his medication that he’d taken no problem all of his life. My buddy was away for the weekend so he wasn’t home when it happened. After his mom passed, we found out even more: She’d taken a life insurance policy out on my buddy at some point too, and she’d also forged his signature to sign over $100k my buddy’s dad had left to him.
She robbed my buddy blind and he had no clue. She took his inheritance from his grandma too that he’d had no clue about and gave a big chunk of it to her friends/his godparents who used it to buy a beach house… She also faked illnesses to get prescription pills and had little books filled with info on what she’d sold and how much she’d made from selling them.
#19 The Spy
I went through a nasty break up with my oldest kid’s mom that lasted several years. We were never married and she was crazy as heck, so she told the hospital she didn’t know our kid’s father just so she could have leverage over me. You know, like a sane person does. Years later and after several investigations into child abuse, she lost custody.
Over the next several years, we kept getting oddly specific complaints about things going on in my house and my daughter and her step mom specifically. Dumb stuff like matching clothes or details about how we do time out. Then my mom passed. When we switched her Facebook to memorial mode, I saw that she had been talking bad about me for years to my ex and was essentially spying on me for her and twisting information.
I’m guessing it’s because she felt bad for a mother that lost her kid, but it was still a jerk move. It’s been two years and I still refuse to visit her grave with my siblings; I haven’t shed a tear for her since.
#20 The Patriarch
My grandfather passed last spring. I found out he’d been verbally and sometimes physically abusive to his four sons, and horrible to my grandmother their whole marriage. My grandmother had been making plans to leave him with my father and uncles’ help when he fell and broke his back, so she stayed with him until he passed a few months later.
All of this was hidden from myself and the rest of the grandkids. My mom quietly told me a few days after the funeral. I’m concerned she only told me because my father may be doing the same to her, but she denied it when I asked.
#21 The Gift of Debt
After my father passed a few years ago, we learned that he had taken out about $40k of loans in my name. We share the same initials (and surname obviously). He forged my signature, and kept on applying for loans and credit, got approved and never paid a single dime back. Seeing as he was the main contact, no-one ever called me to ask me why I wasn’t paying my debt… so only after he passed, we got contacted by institutions informing us that my father owes them money, just to find out it was actually on my name…
So now my credit record is screwed due to years of payments not being made and I need to pay back all of these loans. Fun times, right?
#22 The OG Hot Priest
My grandfather had an entirely different last name than we thought, and he was actually a bad boy Catholic priest! After he shacked up with my grandmother and had a bunch of children with her, he just never told the rest of his family. They thought he was living the chaste life. Um, nope.
#23 The Journal
My mom passed 15 years ago, but I only found her rehab journal a few months ago. In it, she talked about how she was in love not with my dad, but some guy she met at a gastric bypass support group. I’m not sure if my dad ever read the journal and found out, but him and his husband are living the life now and I’m definitely not going to bring it up.
#24 The Linguist
My grandma passed last year, and after the funeral, the family congregated at my grandpa’s house to spend time together. My aunt asked me about my studies and I talked about some research I was doing on the Gaelic language. My grandpa, sitting in the same room, piped in, “Oh, I spoke that with Grandma and Grandpa [his parent’s names] back in the day” and I just kind of stopped and asked him if he was serious.
He was, and apparently none of my aunts or uncles had known either and were just as flabbergasted. He’d never spoken a word of it around them for 60+ years. Apparently, he didn’t speak it because my grandma worried that if they knew he wasn’t totally integrated to American life (AKA English), they might not have let them adopt my mom, aunts, and uncles.
#25 The Matriarch
We always thought something was up with my nan. She always kind of shunned any females in the family. Her sons and grandsons were like gold to her. Wives and granddaughters were treated like rubbish. Wasn’t until she passed a few years back that it came out that she had been abusing her sons and possibly some of her grandsons.
One of my uncles ended up going to prison for assaulting all three of his children, two sons and a daughter. Tore his family apart. When my nan was dying, our uncle never left her side; he organized the funeral and seemed more cut up over it than anyone else. He was the favorite son. Totally gives me the creeps.
#26 The Betrayal
She had been cheating on me all throughout our marriage. When the shock subsided, it was replaced by rage and betrayal. I lost it and I just started destroying and trashing everything of hers. The only thing I didn’t destroy or throw away was her urn. I gave that to her parents. I seriously thought about flushing her ashes down the toilet, but I decided not to.
I completely got over her in record time.
#27 The Grandparents
I recently found out that my grandfather did not treat my grandmother very kindly. He passed about 18 years ago, and my grandmother passed about seven years ago. Recently, I was talking to my dad (who always knew about how his dad treated his mom) and found out that he always put her down. On top of that, he always insulted her and my aunt.
I guess he wanted a son but was not too pleased when their first child was a daughter and their second child who was a boy was stillborn. I guess he blamed my grandma for that as well.
#28 The Lazy Step-Dad
My stepfather was getting more and more tired, falling asleep during the middle of the day, sneaking off for a nap… really ticked off my mother and I. We were helping him renovate a house at the time and we didn’t appreciate him always dozing off. A while later, he got diagnosed with bladder and kidney cancer, which had already spread too far to be treatable. We only really realized after his passing last spring that he was tired all the time because his cancer was already slowly killing him.
I didn’t always get along with him, and I regret a lot of things I said to him. I just thought he was being lazy, I never thought he’d be dead within three years.
#29 The Second Eldest Aunt
After my grandad passed, my great aunt told me that he was responsible for the passing of their baby sister. She said that when he was young, he picked the baby up, but because he was so small, he dropped her and she hit her head. When we went to clear out the house, we found a ton of family documentation, including birth and death certificates for the family.
It turns out the little girl passed as a result of whooping cough. I was like, what? It turns out that my aunt let my grandad go to his grave believing he was responsible for the passing of his baby sister. I can just never get my head around why.
A neighbor was a somewhat off guy who nobody really liked, but he was not hated either. He passed well into his 70s of natural causes. A young couple bought his house and every item in it, because his relatives did not want to clean it up. They discovered surveillance cameras everywhere, watching the whole street—which is highly illegal in Germany. And that was just the beginning.
Finally, they found a room which was hidden behind a concealed door. This room contained lots of surveillance documents and loads of Reichsbürger propaganda, basically a far-right conspiracy. He was one of them; prepared to retake Germany from the usurpers of the German Reich.
#31 Ignorance is Bliss
I had the best grandpa growing up. Like the typical movie grandpa. He was perfect. He spoiled us like crazy; great corny jokes and he always had crazy silly stories. He always saved the day. Just the best man I knew. After he passed, one of my aunts told me and my little sister he had cheated on my grandma with her own sister multiple times. We never knew.
I wish she never told us.
#32 The Second Life
My grandfather was Polish. He fought in WWII in the Allied forces after escaping to occupied Italy. Later, he came to the UK and met my grandmother, with whom he had an unbelievably troubled relationship, and five kids. He passed when my dad was 14. My dad and his brothers found some old projector films in the attic. One of them changed everything.
It was a slideshow that appeared to depict my grandfather in a suit, next to a woman in a wedding dress, standing at an altar. The guy had been married already, in Poland. We don’t know what happened to his first wife, but now we know why he was estranged from his Polish family.
#33 The Mother-in-Law
My grandma passed when I was 10 years old. It took a decade but my mother and my other grandma (my mom’s mom) have started opening up for the first time about what a terrible jerk my grandma was. She was apparently the worst mother-in-law for my mom. My mom and dad got married at 21 years old because my mother got unexpectedly pregnant with me.
Apparently, my grandma visited my mother before the wedding and asked her to please not marry my father in church, because if you get married in church, that marriage is before God and you can only do that once. My grandma wanted her son to keep that marriage before God “for when he finds the real love of his life.”
There are many more stories like this about her and I was baffled.
#34 Psycho Granny, Qu’Est-Ce-Que C’est?
When I was about 31 years old, I found out my maternal grandmother, who practically raised me, offed my grandfather. I was doing research trying to build out a family tree and wanted to find out about my grandfather who passed about four years before I was born. We never really talked about him. I found an article about his passing in 1978 and had found a corresponding police report number for an arrest of my grandmother in the same year.
I didn’t immediately put the two together, but once I did, I put in a FOIA request for the case file. Apparently, my grandfather was in ill health, had a few strokes and needed A LOT of assistance; assistance my grandmother grew tired of. One day, he was sitting in his chair and she just snapped and stabbed him numerous times, killing him.
She was apprehended, tried, and eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity. She spent some time in an institution, only to be let out in 1981, the year before I was born, to move in with my family. As she lived in our home, she basically raised me from a child. She was the sweetest lady in the world and this SHOOK me.
When I asked my dad if it was true and how he could let her alone in our home with me as a child, his response was, “Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, you turned out alright.”
#35 No Love Lost
My father passed in the fall of ‘09. The day after the funeral while singing his praises, it turns out he completely disowned my siblings and myself in his will. Imagine being three children, paraded around by your uncles, telling stories about the “good times,” to then be told that he didn’t love you and you would receive no financial support. We were devastated.
Our mother was there, as she always has been. She is our rock. At that point, that’s when my sister and I decide to completely cut off our father’s manipulative side of the family.
#36 Grandma’s Good Graces
After my mother passed, at the wake, her oldest sister screamed at their father (my grandpa), “It should’ve been you!” Granted, she was grief-stricken and he’d been ill, so she could be forgiven. But then my grandma said something even worse. She went, “Thank God it wasn’t Mary.” Mary is my mom’s second oldest sister, who was the favored child of all my grandma’s other children.
#37 Back from the Dead
My grandmother had three brothers fight on the Eastern Front in WWII. A fourth brother was 13 years old, and a mandatory member of the Hitler Youth. He was conscripted to fight in Berlin against the Soviets. They gave him a gun, put him in an apartment building to fight, and a few hours later one of those Soviet rocket trucks came down the street and unloaded rockets.
Seeing this, without firing a shot, he dropped his gun, walked outside and surrendered. 20 years later, after my grandmother’s family had already had a funeral for him, he showed up back in town unexpectedly. Somehow (he has not explained to anyone how he did this) he escaped from a gulag in Kazakhstan and came back to West Germany.
He’s still alive, and he didn’t let the town take up his gravestone. His stone says 1932-1945 because, as he put it, “Werner went away in 1945, the man I am now was born in 1945.”
#38 The Certificate
I lost my father when I was 10 years old, and I was told he had a heart attack. Fast forward eight years; I was applying for a passport and needed parental documents. My mother was out of town so I went through the documents cabinet to get his death certificate. As I read it, I burst into tears. He passed due to HIV. It broke my heart, but my mother has always been kind to me so I decided to not tell her that I knew.
This was ten years ago and she still doesn’t know that I know.
#39 Dad’s Secret Life
Before he went into the army, my dad was, um, kind of wild. He was bi and secretly dated men, and he blew thousands of dollars 0n Hustlers-esque nights out. But the biggest revelation was that he had an affair with a married woman who was separated from her husband. When he came back on leave, she had their illegitimate son. He decided not to pursue anything with it since he was young and enlisted, and she had reconciled with her husband.
So, I’ve got a much older half-brother out there.
#40 Past Friends
For this story to work, it’s important that you know my name’s Alice. So when my father passed, I was sitting around at the wake, just kind of thinking to myself out loud. I told my mother, “It sucks that I never got a chance to meet the other Alice.” My mother was like “What are you talking about?” So, I told her that our father, her husband for the past several decades, named all three of his daughters after three of his ex-girlfriends.
All I know about the ex I’m named after is that she had red hair. My sister confirmed this and said she knew about it too. My mother just sat there dumbfounded, but she found it amusing in the end and was not hurt by it at all. It was just my father’s way of being kind to past friends.
#41 The Ally
After my nana’s passing, I found out that her marriage to my papa was a complete lie. It turns out that she only married my papa and had three kids with him all as a cover story for him being gay. This was during a time of LGBT violence in America. The kicker is, they really pulled off the married couple routine and I think they were genuinely compatible and happy together.
#42 The Hypocrite
I found out that my father (at least in part encouraged by my stepmom) had been fraudulently using my social security number on a variety of loans and credit cards. I’m a junior, so nothing was red-flagged for most of this stuff, apparently. I still am trying to clean up a certain amount of the messes he made, though things have tailed off since he’s been dead for over a decade.
I still struggle with the fact that the man who preached honesty and integrity to me as a child, and who beat the ever-loving heck out of me when I transgressed even slightly, would do something like this. I realized after his passing that he was both a narcissist and a bit of a sociopath, but still… it’s hard to reconcile at points.
#43 The Missing Magazines
My brother passed in a car accident when he was 16 years old. My mom shut the door to his bedroom after his funeral and no one could bear to pack up his belongings. After about a year my dad decided it was time to clean up the room, donate some stuff and decide what to keep. Me and our oldest brother were asked to do it, my parents just couldn’t.
I had been going in his room throughout the year, dusting and vacuuming and sometimes watching TV on his bed (not going to lie, I would talk to him in there) so I was ok with it. So, we get started cleaning up; it’s a slow process because we are looking at everything, talking etc. We get to cleaning out the closet, and my brother is pulling down books, and starts busting out laughing and crying.
He starts pulling down a bunch of hidden playboy magazines that our brother had been stealing from him. Not a huge bombshell, but our brother was pretty shy and quiet, not the sneaky kind that would steal. So, when my big brother’s playboys went missing, he assumed it was his idiot friends. It provided some comic relief we needed.
#44 Missed Moments
My father talked about how he was there with my mom for her last dying breath. It wasn’t true. My brother-in-law (who was abusive and crazy) was searching for his wife (my sister) because she had been away from the house too long. He called my father in a freak-out-panic trying to figure out where she was, assuming that she was somewhere cheating.
While my father was trying to calm him down, my mother passed. When my father came back to my mother, she was gone. When my brother-in-law passed a few years later, I was surprised that my father didn’t seem that upset. Before my father passed a few years after that, he told me why. I was in my mid-30s.
#45 The Arsonist
My uncle on my mom’s side went missing around January 7, 2000. When my cousin Adrian went looking for him, he found him in his closet with a belt around his neck. After that, everyone pieced it together based on weird conversations and his behavior, that it was my uncle who had set fire to my family’s apartment’s front door about a week prior, December 30, 1999.
That fire left my family psychologically and physically scarred—and my mother dead. Apparently, my parents were fed up with giving him booze-and-smokes money.
#46 Didn’t See That Coming
One of my good friends was shot last year. He was one of the nicest guys I knew, he always called everyone he knew, checked up on them, made sure everyone was okay and was really supportive of everyone. Move forward a week or two after his passing, and someone was apprehended due to a murder that happened a few days before my friend’s.
Turns out the guy who was the suspect was the cause of multiple crimes (yet he had perfect alibis for everything); except we later found out that my friend was working for him and was getting paid 5-10k per person. No one saw it coming but everything soon made sense…
#47 Great-Grandpa’s Secrets
When my great-grandma passed last year, we found a photo album she had hidden in a closet. It was full of photos from WWII, and the images were utterly haunting. We don’t know for sure because she never talked about it, but from the photos, it looked like my great-grandpa fought for the Germans and they lived quite the lavish life during the war. We do know that my great-grandpa was captured in France and when the war ended, they came to Canada.
Neither of them ever talked about the details. My mom and I tried googling my great-grandpa’s name, although we suspect he changed it when coming over. We found records of his brother who passed in battle but none of him. As someone who loves history, I found it very interesting. For all we know, they could have been forced into joining.
Although my mom feels that they both supported that party just from what she remembers of their personality and the odd comments they would say.
#48 The Other Family
I had a cousin who passed a few years ago. I went to his funeral and was walking around hugging his wife and kids and giving them my condolences when a lady and two teenage boys walked in. Nobody knew who these people were, so of course, my great aunt asked. She claimed to be his wife and the two boys were his sons. Turns out all those week-long work trips he’d been taking weren’t actually work trips.
They were trips to see his OTHER family.
#49 The Boozer
My grandma (Dad’s mom) was one of my favorite people before she passed when I was 14 years old. She was extremely sweet, generous, and gave good advice. My brother and I stayed with her and were alone with her all the time, and she never mistreated us or in any way acted unusually. I found out only a couple of weeks ago at 33 years old that she was a severe alcoholic who would get drunk almost daily.
My dad said she would beat him and his brothers when they were kids, and as adults would still say severely psychologically abusive taunts while grinning at their faces. I never had even the slightest idea.
#50 The Inheritance
When my grandma passed, we discovered that the entire family was willing to screw over her daughter for a bigger slice of the inheritance by going to court with a bunch of accusations. It was just like Hollywood drama, but worse because it was real life. They all had the same (rehearsed) story, so guess what the judge decided… I’m not the type to be greedy for inheritance; my father is worth millions and I don’t care if I never see any of it.
The guy is a jerk and I’d rather be self-made. But the family tearing itself in half for $500k? Bunch of idiots.
#51 The Autobiography
My grandfather never talked about his life as a teenager; all he told me is that he was raised on the island of Java in the 1940’s even though he was German/Dutch in origin. When he passed, he left me the autobiography he wrote for after his passing. Apparently, his father was a radio engineer for the Dutch government building long-range radio stations.
He and his siblings were attending a boarding school in the Black Forest in Bavaria. His parents came to visit and discovered he had been forced into the Hitler Youth, and so they grabbed the three siblings and took them to Java. All was well until the Japanese invaded. The Japanese invaded Java and immediately made a beeline to their cottage, as their reconnaissance had told them my great grandfather was a radio engineer.
The Japanese then proceeded to take their family hostage in order to force him to build radio stations to support their invasions. My grandfather was separated from his family at the age of 16 and placed in 6 different prison camps over the course of the war. In 1945, at the end of the war, he was at a prison camp outside of Kyoto.
He was 6’3″ (1.9m), 22 years old, and weighed 83 pounds (37.6 kg). The day that the emperor of Japan surrendered and bowed to the Americans, the Japanese army was ordered to surrender to the nearest, highest-ranking Westerner. As my grandfather was the oldest person in his camp, he ended up in charge of the camp and its 300-troop garrison for three days until the US Marines arrived.
He wrote that he had spent those three days trying to travel to see Kyoto since he had been living outside of it for over a year, however, the Marines arrived one day before he was to go there. He was taken to the USS Missouri to be on deck as one of the witnesses to the signing of the Peace Treaty, and then taken to the Philippines to a US naval hospital to try to get him healthy again.
It was there he developed a life-long love of pancakes as that was what they fed him in order to get him back to a healthy weight. I had never known any of that until I read what he left me.
#52 Running from Demons
My friend was wealthy and successful; he had it all, and then one day, he told us the awful truth: He had stage 4 cancer. Passed shortly after that. I went to his funeral to find that he had actually taken his family’s entire inheritance, ran away, went AWOL and started a life in our country. That’s when I had met him. I didn’t know about his past.
His elderly parents and sister were distraught upon knowing this dude had married a foreigner and their money was stuck in a lawsuit with no sight of a resolution. It’s tainted my memory of him, I used to think he was a generous dude and kept a low profile because of wealth; now we all know he was running from his own demons.
#53 An Aunt’s Love Story
When I was 14, my aunt apssed very suddenly. She was only 37, but she had a lot of health problems (obese, substance issues, alcoholism, etc.) As a family, we tried our best to encourage her to get healthier, but disappointingly, she never listened to us. None the less, she was always happy. Smiling, laughing, and always complimenting me and saying how much she loved our family.
I never understood why someone with such cheer and utter happiness could end up in the situation she was in. While I was spending the night with a distant cousin of mine, we got into a deep conversation about my aunt. We both spoke our feelings about the passing, including my confusion for why she had so many problems.
My cousin looked at me with an “oh no, you don’t know?” kind of look. I asked what happened but she hesitated. She asked me to not tell anyone I heard it from her. I said of course and pushed her to tell me. She explained how when my aunt was about 17, her mom (my grandma) had just gotten married to another man.
His brother (let’s call him T) was very close with my aunt. Apparently, they went out to ice cream and looked at fancy cars that he promised to buy her. When my cousin was telling me this, I was confused, because it’s just an uncle and niece type of thing. Why is that so bad? Well, one night, my aunt had to spend the night at T’s house while her parents worked graveyard shifts.
My cousin didn’t exactly know what happened, but it was heavily implied and speculated that they slept together, or even worse, he assaulted her. This was because, after that night, my aunt asked to spend the night over and over again. She basically begged to see T every day. T and her parents eventually got tired of it and said that she wasn’t allowed to go over there again.
T never acted the same around her. He ignored her at family events, didn’t take her out anymore, and never brought her up or even talked about her in conversations. After that, my aunt struggled to find a real boyfriend and even tried experimenting with girls. She never knew what real love was, and it was obvious that it bugged her. She had been played with by this tool and left in the dust.
She eventually got a husband and had a kid, my favorite cousin that I love oh so much. But life wasn’t kind to her. And I guess drinking her life away was her way of coping. It hurts to think that she passed thinking that she was nothing but a waste, when in reality, she was a blessing to everyone who came in contact with her.
I wish I could tell her how much I love and appreciate her.
#54 The Godfather
My mom’s cousin passed when I was seven. My mom and him were extremely close, he was even the godfather of my little sister. She took his passing pretty harshly. I was always told he fell asleep at the wheel. What I found out as I got older was that he had been on and off various substances. He took the wrong concoction and ended up passing out at the wheel while driving.
My mom doesn’t like to talk about much understandably. I just found it so shocking that he had this completely different side to himself that no one really knew.
#55 The Mistress Part 2
My father had this secret mistress and when he passed, she had the nerve to show up at his funeral. It was really terrible, but not as terrible as all the stuff we found out later. It turns out that my dad paid all of his mistress’ bills, including her college bills for when she went back to school in her early 30s.
The college thing really hurt my mom as she always wanted to get an education for herself but there was never money, or so my dad said…
#56 The Garden
There was a woman in my town, and after she passed, people were clearing her garden and found what they thought was a model skeleton. Yeah, it wasn’t. It was her husband, who went mysteriously missing in the mid-90s. Apparently, she was fairly well-liked in the town and she told everyone her husband ran away with another woman.
She had a really well-kept garden with hard-to-grow orchids, etc. and put a lot of care into it, but was very secretive about it and wouldn’t let visitors in there because they might “trample the flowers”.
#57 Bad Nana
My nana always gave me a kind of uneasy feeling when I was around her—and I didn’t adore her or anything, but I definitely thought of her as just a regular old lady up until her passing. Then, after she passed, my mom confessed to me. My nana used to be a religious zealot, so much so that she would scream at her for hours for having her fly down, or wearing slightly-tight jeans, because she was “inviting the devil” or something.
She would take my mom and her brother into the backyard and force them to brutally beat each other with sticks. And when my mom’s brother passed in a car accident, my nana openly mocked him at the funeral, stating he deserved to die (because he drank underage, I think? Not while driving, he didn’t drive drunk. Just… in general).
She was a monster. My mother had to run away at 18 years old. My nana only “calmed down” when my mom had kids, because she’d wanted “grandbabies” and being the forgiving person my mom was, she let her back into her life, on the promise she never did to us what she’d done to her. My mom may have forgiven her, but I haven’t.
She didn’t really change, on the inside… and looking back I can see just how much my nana’s abuse shaped my mother’s life/mental health for the worse, how she never ended up recovering in the end. Awful. I wish I could tell my mom what I know now about trauma and all that. I wish we could really talk about it now that I’m an adult, but it’s too late for that now.
#58 Family Drama
My cousin, only a few months older than me (in her mid-30s), passed tragically in really unexpected circumstances. We weren’t hugely close, but it was a real shock and has really messed up her immediate family. About six months after she passed, I found out that my police officer brother had randomly pulled her over and breathalyzed her. She was well over the limit.
She had drunk driving charges brought against her. This was about a year before she passed. But because she and her family are kind of stuck up and “perfect”(not the type of people to accept that they might be alcoholics), they tried to claim my brother made the reading up because of a (non-existent) family grudge and tried to have him charged with misconduct and fired.
It wasn’t successful but it made his life pretty miserable for a while. Her family don’t know I know, but you can imagine that I’m pretty conflicted over telling them how messed up they are versus recognizing the impact her passing has had on them and not adding to their troubles.
#59 The Work Incident
I’ve never actually told anyone this. My dad passed about 20 years ago when I was 15 years old. He worked putting in skylight glass for big buildings like malls and stuff. Anyway, according to the details, one of the crates on the forklift was tipping and he tried to stop it; no one came to help and it crushed him. That’s what we kids were told…
It wasn’t until three years ago I found out through a guy Dad worked with that no one was even there on the job but said guy and my dad. They were closing up shop. My dad had been discussing things like suicide with this guy. When the guy turned his back… my dad shot himself. There was no forklift accident. He wasn’t crushed.
The guy made it look that way so we kids would end up with an inheritance and a lump sum payment. I freaking cried for days. Thank you Clark, for setting all that up. You didn’t have to change our lives for the better. But you did.
#60 Crazy In Love
My great aunt was a nurse at a mental hospital about 100 years ago. She fell in love with a guy who had been committed there by the State. She helped him escape, and they ran off together to another part of the country. Romantic, right? Wrong. It turns out that the guy was a psychopathic killer, and he got extradited back and put in prison.
My aunt, a sweet old soul, lived to be 99 years old, and I never knew anything about her past until decades after she was gone.
#61 Unknown Twins
My dad was discharged from the military for going AWOL. He had found out his ex from when he was around 15 had had his children back then and had never told him about it. I have two siblings who are twins. I don’t know their names or what they look like, but they’re out there somewhere, and they’re only three years older than me.
#62 Dark Secret
I always thought that my paternal grandfather, from Denmark, was one of three boys born to my great-grandparents. However, I found out that there was a fourth brother that no one would talk about. Eventually, I learned the chilling reason why. It turns out that he was assassinated in WWII by his own men when they found out he was actually a German sympathizer who’d been trying to act as an agent provocateur.
He woke up one day, was greeted with an armed escort, taken out to a tree line, and shot until they ran out of ammunition. They didn’t bury him or bring his body back. The family got a short letter from the army saying he was KIA, then a family friend who was in the army and in the know sent a letter filling in a few details, just enough so they knew why they weren’t getting a body to bury.
His name was never spoken again until my grandfather was in his 90s and starting to mentally slip away.
My grandfather tried to kill my dad with an axe. He literally showed up to his place of work and went looking to cut him down. Somehow, my unprepared dad fought him off with his bare hands. Grandpa escaped—but the nightmare wasn’t over. He came back the next day to finish the job with a gun, but my dad didn’t show up to work, so my grandfather turned the gun on himself in the parking lot.
I still can’t completely grasp that this story, and the circus of insanity that surrounded it, were real.
#64 Letting the Past Lie
My great aunt and uncle had a baby when they were still in the dating phase. They were in love, and getting married was a sure thing down the line. However, coming from a very conservative society in the Middle East back in the 50s, they had to give the child away to an orphanage. Once that was done, they got married and eventually had four other children.
That first child grew up knowing his origins, but was only allowed minimal contact with his family. He still isn’t invited to family events, and has a family of his own. When my great uncle passed, I was told he was amongst the mourners who came to the cemetery to pay respects, but none of my cousins including myself know what he looks like. My dad and his siblings and cousins all do, but they did not introduce him to us.
It’s sad how he’s punished for something that isn’t his fault.
#65 Great-Grandparent Histories
On my mum’s side, my great-great-grandfather offed his brother’s wife. Apparently it caused a rift in the family, because some relatives believed he did it (he did), and others thought someone else had been responsible. I also know that my great-grandmother was in Poland during WWII and came home one day to find her entire family just gone.
They were rounded up and sent to camps while she was out. She survived by working as a maid in Austria. After V-Day, she and some of her family that had survived ended up working on the anti-communist black market selling meat and underwear.
#66 When Bachelor Parties Get Out Of Hand
My one cool uncle, who came to our house every Christmas and Thanksgiving, was always really great and pleasant. He had a bunch of cats and dogs at his house and got married to my aunt shortly before I was born. One day, my mom and I went to visit him and my aunt at their house, and there was this girl there. I think she was a year older than me, so about 15.
My mom and I asked who the girl was, and my uncle said, “Well…I just found out a few days ago that I have a daughter, so…I guess this is your cousin!” It was crazy, but then we learned the story of how she was born, and my jaw straight-up dropped. It turns out that before my uncle and aunt got married, my uncle had a pretty wild bachelor party in which a “lady of the evening” was hired…one thing led to another, and my cousin appeared 15 years later to find her father.
She was so sweet, and my uncle was actually really good about the whole situation. He even started paying child support to my cousin’s mom, his idea. My aunt was also very forgiving. I’ve never met my cousin’s mom.
#67 Meddling Grandmother
My uncle got his high school girlfriend pregnant, and my grandmother drove her to the clinic for an abortion, agreeing to pay only if the girlfriend didn’t tell my uncle that she was going to abort his child. It tore him up when he found out, but that hardly excuses his next actions. My father got my mother pregnant around that time as well, and she was also (not too discretely) offered the same deal by my grandmother. My mother refused with a few choice words.
My uncle found out, tracked my mother down, and punched her in the stomach for “daring to take what was ripped away from him.” My mother subsequently miscarried who would have been my big brother. My mom, the saint that she is, forgave him and tried to help him get some therapy. He rejected her help and joined the army instead.
I didn’t find out any of this until I was an adult, which really messed with my head since my uncle had always been really close to me, right up until I came out of the closet. I think he somehow thought of me as the daughter his mother had forced his girlfriend to abort.
#68 Why Didn’t He Just Pay The Tickets?
My uncle was in prison for arson and burglary for 15 years, but growing up, I was always told that he was just in jail for “not paying tickets.”
#69 Valuable Discovery
We have a set of plates that our family uses ONLY on Easter. My mom always fusses about how they are great-grandmother’s pre-WWI family heirlooms. As someone who is interested in this kind of stuff, I looked up the maker’s mark and found out they were 1940s kitsch, at best. I haven’t told anyone about my discovery, because I have my eyes on another set of china, and I want to seem magnanimous when I “compromise” with my sister to have the good china.
#70 Rapacious Randy
My family could have been worth millions. My great-grandfather had built a company from the ground up called Johnson Corrugated. They made corrugated cardboard for shipping boxes. Great-grandfather wasn’t very nice, but he did build the family empire, so we still see him in a good way. My grandfather was supposed to inherit the company 30 something years ago…until Uncle Randy happened.
My great-grandmother was still alive after her husband passed, and so she was technically the owner of the company. She was also blind and deaf. Uncle Randy visited her, impersonated my grandfather, and had her sign away the entire company over to him. He gave half of the $15 million to his son, who fled to Europe after mortal threats. Uncle Randy passed within a month after fleeing the family, from cancer. Nobody went to his funeral.
My grandpa is now 80 and can’t retire because he’s been fighting this in court for the past 20 years and owes about $300,000 in legal fees. I found this out after stumbling onto a stack of legal documents in my grandpa’s attic. We still don’t know where Randy’s son is, to this day.
#71 When Grown Men Take Dares
Growing up, I always noticed an odd tension between my dad and my aunt. Any time we’d have get-togethers, she would try her best to distance herself from him. Fast forward to age 12: I went to have a sleepover with my cousin (I did so frequently) and my aunt had to work. So, being a couple of bored kids, we started snooping around where we shouldn’t have been.
I went into her bedroom and started to sift through all her stuff, and after some digging, I found what turned out to be a suicide note. In it, she described how she couldn’t handle the trauma my father had caused her. Me, being confused and concerned, brought the note to my mom, who then brought it to my grandma, who then confronted my aunt. The truth was devastating.
It turns out that my dad had assaulted her several years ago, and in addition, gave her HIV and Hepatitis B. My mom and dad had been divorced for about three years by that time. After discovering this, my grandma and mom confronted my dad. They then learned that he had intentionally given himself HIV because he was dared to by one of his addict friends.
#72 An Amazing Woman
My grandmother had a sister who passed in the 60s. She was never married, and she was a nurse in the army in WWII. When my grandmother turned 100, we were looking at old albums together, chatting, and she was telling me old stories. I went up on a chair to get another album for her, and I found a little book at the back of the closet. It had pictures of my father’s aunt in an army aircraft, a fighter plane, and of a few other people. On one page, there were written just a few words: “Yours, for all eternity.”
My Gran absolutely panicked when I was holding that book. She said that nobody had ever seen it, and that she had promised to take it to her grave. She then told me that she believed that her sister had met someone in the war (man or woman, we don’t know), and that he or she was dead. My aunt decided that she would never fall in love again.
I never told anyone before a few weeks ago, when my father asked if there was anything missing from Gran’s house that I would have wanted. The book has gone, because nobody thought it was important when the house was cleaned out. And I really think my Gran would have been happy about that. She lived to 102, having survived WWI and II. She’s my hero.
#73 Dark Father
I was always told that my dad left me when I was born, and technically that’s true, but I was told my dad was someone completely different. I got a little suspicious about the whole thing because my cousin, who apparently didn’t know the whole cover story, told me that my dad had blonde hair and my mother had black hair, and that’s where I got my black hair. Strangely, everyone else told me my dad had black hair.
When I had to use my birth certificate so I could join the military, more evidence surfaced, and the mystery deepened: the name of my father said Alexander Smith. My last name is Smith, but my family told me that I got my name from a baby book, so that’s why my last name was different from everyone else’s in my family. I then spent a couple of days doing research on Alexander Smith.
He was born in Russia and changed his name when he got here, and I’m 70% Russian so that makes sense. What really sold it for me was that it said his mother’s name was Natasha Kelovich—which was my grandmother’s name. I confronted my family about it and they revealed that he was my dad, and they told me what had really happened. To put it bluntly: after I was born, he decided he didn’t want any kids, so he tried to smother me in my sleep.
Luckily, my brother and my uncle stopped him, and he fled. They called the police, but they didn’t find him fast enough. He returned in the middle of the night and set fire to our house, which took the lives of our family dog and an old lady in the process when the fire jumped to another house. After that, he was sent to prison for life, never saw the outside again.
They said they wanted to keep it a secret so that I didn’t know my dad was a psychopath who tried to kill me. They were planning on telling me through a letter when I joined the military, but I figured that out before-hand.
#74 Clandestine Vacation
When I was three years old, mom and her mother took a month-long vacation together. That was the only trip the two of them ever took just by themselves. It was also the only time my grandmother took a vacation without her husband. Dad’s parents looked after me in the meantime. The day mom returned, she handed me a pair of maracas.
She and her mother told everyone they had been to Spain, but they didn’t bring back any pictures or tell any stories about it. In contrast, grandma was full of snapshots and anecdotes about her other travels. When I was around eight years old and asked mom about Spain, she quoted old movies: right out of My Fair Lady, she answered, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”
She never showed me a passport stamp. For all I know, she never even had a passport. When I was in college mom claimed that she had never traveled overseas. When I reminded her about that month in Spain, she fell silent. Apparently she had been hoping I’d forgotten. There had been other hints that something was off.
During childhood, she tried to donate those maracas to charity a couple of times. I insisted on keeping them, but they disappeared when I was ten or eleven. Shortly before they vanished, she saw me playing with them and told me they weren’t really maracas. This started an exchange where I asked her what the correct term was, and why she had always called them maracas until then. She gave a couple of evasive responses before falling silent.
None of this added up until decades later, when I finally made a dark realization. I realized her trip to Spain took place shortly before abortion was legalized where we were living, and that something like 30% of women in the United States have had an abortion. My best guess is that she and her mother either drove to Canada or flew to the UK and spent the month shuttling between medical clinics and a hotel room.
Mom, dad, and I had been living in a one-bedroom apartment at the time. Mom and grandma probably decided she couldn’t afford a second child. Dad never guessed a thing. Incidentally, my mother is a lifelong Republican who’s also adamantly pro-choice. Mom never had substance abuse problems, and her marriage was going well, so mental health treatment doesn’t seem likely either.
Although she and dad were on a tight budget, a month-long trip was no stretch for my grandma; she and my grandpa were country club people. My mother has never been a reliable narrator, and her mother has long since passed. The big tipoff is my mother’s adamant support of abortion rights. It’s neither her political leaning nor within her personal temperament to take abstract stances in favor of rights, but she’ll champion issues she knows firsthand.
#75 Expensive Sweet Potatoes
My grandmother gifted me a very old bottle of whiskey worth up to $4,000. She had no idea what it was worth and just thought it was neat because my grandfather’s name was inscribed on it. It turns out she found a whole crate of them in the basement, and had been using them for cooking sweet potatoes for years.
We were born and raised in the Philippines. After moving to the US, my mother has always been about “Pinoy pride” and making sure we weren’t “contaminated” by Western culture. She also hates (with a passion) being confused for anything except Filipino. In my late 20s, we found out that we aren’t even Filipino! We’re Japanese.
My mom was hiding the truth because she thought it was embarrassing to admit. That’s why she didn’t mention it when we were kids, and as we grew older, it became more and more awkward to bring up. I think she emphasized Pinoy culture with us so much because she was worried about getting called out. We now greet her with “Konichiwa” to mess with her.
#77 Scamming Granny
My family found out with my grandpa passing that my grandma was never married to him. She refused to marry him because her main goal was to live on Social Security and never work a day in her life. She claims she only said they were married when she got pregnant with my aunt because she didn’t want to be seen as an unmarried pregnant lady.
She did end up living off Social Security, but recently the government found out, and now they may sue her. She’s a horrible person who only cares about money, so this is karma.
#78 My Aunt, the Bootlegger
When my family came over from the “old country,” prohibition was just starting. They knew how to make moonshine from living in the old country. So, my great-aunt became very involved in bootlegging and made a whole bunch of money. We have all these great photos of her all dressed up in furs and fabulous clothes from back then. This great-aunt never had any kids, but my grandmother had eight kids.
My great aunt put a significant amount of money in a trust for my mother and her siblings that was supposed to pay out when my grandmother passed. My mother had an older brother who was a lawyer. They put him in charge of the trust and a whole other bunch of family money. It appeared he was doing well for himself. He had nice cars, went on ski trips, had very nice boarding schools for his kids….
Well, eventually he started to fall apart from alcoholism. If the trust from the bootlegger aunt had been properly managed, it should have been worth around $1.5 million. At this point, there were five siblings left, so that was nothing to sneeze at. People started asking about the money, and there was almost a fist-fight between my uncles at my grandmother’s funeral.
Turns out, the vacations and private schools were paid for by the trusts, and not because my uncle was a successful lawyer.
#79 Online Discovery
While using a certain DNA service, I was contacted through the website by a first cousin. However, I did not recognize this cousin. Turns out, this cousin was put up for adoption at birth years ago by my aunt. My aunt only told my mother, who told me after I started digging to figure out how this person and I were related.
My aunt is horrified that I found out about her child, and now avoids me at all costs at family gatherings. I honestly don’t care that she had a child and put the child up for adoption.
#80 It Started With a Snowstorm…
When I was around two, my mom’s mom was watching my sisters and I while my parents were at work in the city. For some reason, she refused to let us see our parents after that for any reason, and we ended up staying with her for around half a year. All that time, we had no idea my parents were living a waking nightmare. Turns out our parents had been trapped in the city for two days because of a horrible snowstorm, so my Nanny had gone to the courthouse and claimed they had abandoned us.
She took temporary custody of my sisters and I, and my parents had to wait six months to be deemed “suitable” parents so that we could return.
#81 Affair With The Mailman
During WWII, my great grandmother had an affair with the mailman while her husband was away at the front and ended up getting pregnant. To save her marriage, she decided to put the child, my grandfather, up for adoption before her husband came home. Nobody ever found out. Somehow (and I have no clue how), she managed to keep it a secret until she was on her deathbed, when she finally told her two daughters, who were born after my grandfather.
Sometime later, in the early 1990s, they hired a private investigator to find their long lost brother. When they found him, they waited in the parking lot for him to get off work, and broke the news to him that they were his sisters. My dad told me he remembered going to a Christmas party with them as a child, but that was about it, they lost contact after that.
I’ve never met them, but the story still fascinates me.
My uncle held “gender reveal parties” in 1990 before they were cool. As in, he would go to restaurants, reveal his “gender” to unsuspecting people, and then run away. He took a plea deal and agreed to leave South Dakota and never come back. My father got drunk and told me this—I did not want to learn about this.
#83 Was There a White Pointy Hat?
After my great aunt passed, we found KKK letterhead stationery and some other paraphernalia that indicated she’d been doing secretarial work for them.
#84 Squatting Aunt-Turned-Cultist
I had an uncle who was trying to sell a really nice house of his, and after a year and a half, he called his agent to figure out why it wasn’t selling. It turns out that my aunt had taken all of the For Sale signs down, and had been living in the house the whole time. When confronted about it, she sold off all of the furniture and stripped the house of wiring and pipes before ditching out.
This same aunt hands out business cards with “Reverend Dr.” before her name because she got some certificates online. Now, she owns her own church and all of the church members live on this giant property in Virginia. Sounds like a cult to me.
#85 Dealing Dad
My dad used to be a major dealer when he was in his 20s. He was delivered over 100 lbs of weed a week, and that was just the beginning. He was never caught, and eventually stopped because his stash house got robbed. He took the cash he had made and moved to a different city and started over. He never told my mom, and the only reason I ever found out was that one day his buddy came over, and my dad gave him a package that looked like it should’ve been in a 1950s mailbox.
It was wrapped in brown paper and hade twine tied around it. He didn’t realize I was standing in the door, but decided to confess everything to me instead of just telling me some lie and sending me away none the wiser. We now laugh about it every chance we get.
#86 Salacious Sisters
My sister appears to have husband-swapped with another couple. Both of the couples in question seem to have children that look like they belong more with the other family. My other sister appears to have a secret, lesbian, side relationship with a woman with whom she’s constantly attending work retreats (when no such work retreats are actually going on).
#87 Wild Woman
My father found out from an obituary a few years ago that he had an aunt who he never knew existed. He asked my grandmother about it, and she revealed that her parents had put her sister in an institution when she was in her teens (in the 1940s) because she was “too wild” and just NEVER TALKED ABOUT HER AGAIN. Even when he asked her about it, she didn’t want to discuss it with him. Eventually, she gave him that bare minimum, saying only that she was very wild and their father had had her sent away to an institution.
I’ve never been able to find the obituary—but this is a very strange and dark part of our family history.
#88 Gang Family
I discovered that my family was taking part in some really bad stuff involving Mexican gangs, like distribution and some worse stuff. I found out when my brother’s dad was found dead the day he got out of prison. My mom was talking to my aunt about it. They were talking in Spanish, but they didn’t know that I was learning the language (we never learned Spanish as my siblings and I grew up, so they would talk in Spanish if they didn’t want us to pick up on what they were saying).
Anyway, after that, my uncle went to where the crime had taken place and, after about a month or so, a couple of other people that our family knew were reported missing or dead. Later, I asked my mom about it, and she said that our family has been part of this shady stuff since before my grandmother even migrated from Mexico.
Suddenly, it all made sense. I always wondered why we would have to move every three to six months, why my uncle and grandma always had respect from countless people I’ve never seen before, and why they were given so many freebies from strangers. People seemed to know me before I’ve ever even heard of them. My siblings and I are not involved anymore, but four of my cousins are.
#89 Jer-ry! Jer-ry!
My “grandfather” was my great-uncle and my “great-uncle” was my grandfather. To make this less confusing…let’s say there are two brothers, John and Harry. John has a good job in America and is back visiting the old country. Both brothers are at a football match and meet my grandmother, Rose. Now, Rose is really into Harry, but John is the one with the job in America, so when he asks her to marry him and go with him to Boston, she agrees.
So John and my Granny marry, and she has three of his kids. Sadly, it ends up being not a great marriage (go figure), and they haven’t had another child for 10 years. Meanwhile, Harry has come to America and is living with the family…when all of a sudden, grandma is pregnant with my father. Fast forward to much later, when Rose gets drunk and admits to someone that she “really loved” my father’s father.
John had always treated my father poorly, so we were able to put the pieces together. I’m pretty sure John and Rose weren’t sleeping together by this point, so he definitely knew the paternity of my father, but being a good Catholic, he just put up with it. So, there’s my Jerry Springer-level family secret.
#90 Hypocrite Parents
I ended up going to community college with my extraordinarily uptight father and stepmother’s dealer, who we will call Andrew. The real kicker is that my stepmother is a counselor who works primarily with addicts. I only let them know I knew once they had really made me angry; I was a very timid and passive person back then.
I threw out the slow burn one day by calling out, “Oh Andrew ******** says hi!” and then leaving.
#91 Double-Life Dads
I was always told that my dad was a mild-mannered internet entrepreneur and that my grandfather was a happy-go-lucky retired used-car salesman. I have literally never in my life seen my dad even so much as raise his voice, and to this day, my grandfather is the nicest, sweetest, most thoughtful man I’ve ever met. I was in my early 20s before I found out the truth. It was right after my dad was caught two states over trying to do a six-figure deal.
I met my grandpa for lunch to try and help me make sense of this, and he told me everything. My dad was a big-time dealer, with clients in five or six major cities. He got into it using my grandpa’s contacts: as it turns out, my grandpa used to break people’s legs and rob stores for the Detroit Mafia in the 60s and 70s.
To this day, we don’t talk about it very much. When my dad got out of prison, we went on pretending like nothing had happened. I brought it up for the first time to my grandpa a few days before Christmas. I had watched The Irishman and started thinking about how my grandpa ran with the Detroit Mafia at the same exact time Hoffa disappeared.
I brought up the movie, and he said he hadn’t seen it yet, so I kind of prodded him. He waved his hand dismissively and said, “I heard the same rumors everyone else heard. I guarantee the only people who know what happened are whoever was there.”
#92 Pilfering Papa
I just found out two years ago that my dad has a younger brother. My nana was a single mother in the mid-60s and put the brother up for adoption. Not long after she gave him up, she met and married my papa, so my dad was raised as an only child. My papa was a safecracker in the 30s/40s (I’m not exactly sure when), and at one point had a cop help him and his friends load a stolen safe into a stolen ice cream truck. My papa had also spent 19 years in jail.
I always assumed it was because of the safe cracking, but nope—it was so much worse. He was “leaving” the military during WWII in the middle of the night, and broke into a lady’s garage to steal a car. The lady caught him and he shot her. He turned his life around during his time in jail before eventually marrying my nana.
#93 One-Punch Grandpa
One day, I asked my mom why grandpa hadn’t stayed in his hometown and taken over the farm. It turns out that once, when they had had a bunch of local kids over to hang out, grandpa couldn’t find his sister. He went looking for her and went around the corner of the barn—where another guy was attacking her.
Grandpa grabbed the guy, gave him one punch to the head—and the guy passed as a result. He served 10 months in jail. After that, he decided to move a whole 10 miles away to another town. The ironic part is that my grandfather’s name is Pleasant! He’s referred to as one-punch grandpa now. This dark secret is not mentioned by the family, but somehow, kinda cool.
#94 Like the Brother Never Even Existed
My brother who passed. We never, ever talk about him. It’s so strange, growing up I knew I had a brother and I knew he was hit by a car walking home and passed, but I don’t know anything about him aside from that. I’ve seen his pictures, I know what he looked like. I don’t know anything about his personality, his likes or his dislikes, the type of music he listened to. I once found his comics in my mom’s closet when I was younger, but that was about it.
It is almost like it’s just a story and he wasn’t a real person. It wasn’t until my grandfather passed about 11 years ago that my mother and I walked to his grave. She broke down into an inaudible mess, and it really hit me for the first time ever that he was a real person, as crazy as that sounds. I don’t understand that pain of losing a child, but it hurt to see my mom mourn like that, almost as if it had just happened.
The only time since then he was ever mentioned was by my dad a few months ago. Out of my mother, father, and sisters, I’m the tallest. My dad told me how the only one of us who was taller than me was Jimmy, and how he always seemed to keep growing, how he probably would have towered over me. I almost cried. I wish I got to know him.
#95 He’s a Biter
When I was about 14, my mom took me to a tattoo shop to get her nipples pierced. While the procedure was happening, she turned to me and said something so disturbing that I’ve never forgotten it: “Your dad bites harder than that.” I could have lived without that info.
#96 Snooper’s Regret
Recently, my mom used my husband’s phone to make a call—to the man she was having an affair with. The phone had auto record on. And that was how I found out she’d been in that relationship for 17 years, and tried to have kids with him as well. My dad found out about it years ago and almost ended the marriage as a result.
What he doesn’t know is that she continued the relationship up until last year, and only recently broke it off because the loser CHEATED on her with someone else. She’s also a raging narcissist.
#97 I’mma Head Out
When I got back from Iraq, my dad broke some bad news to me—he and my mom were getting a divorce. Shortly after, he told me the chilling reason why. They had financial troubles and my mom sent me care packages quite a lot. Apparently, that put them into bankruptcy, and if I hadn’t joined it wouldn’t have happened.
I never really wanted to join the military anyway, and it messed me up big time.
#98 The Harsh Truth
My mother was in a fatal car accident when I was three. I found out from a newspaper article years later that it was her fault. She wasn’t paying attention and crossed the yellow line and ended both her life and that of the person in the other car.
#99 The Mistress
I received a phone call from my late husband’s girlfriend the day of his funeral. She was phoning his cell phone which I had turned off while he was in the hospital. She told me that my husband had been paying her rent for the last year. The bank had recently foreclosed on our house. I had no idea he was unfaithful to me, but she knew all about me.
#100 Way to Leave Us Hanging
A long time ago, back when I was still in middle school my mom’s best friend passed. She wouldn’t tell me how she passed. Only that it was sudden. When I asked why we weren’t going to the funeral she told me that there wouldn’t be one because “her body was being donated to science.” I didn’t ask any more questions. That was the last time we ever talked about her.
Well, five months ago my mom handed me her phone to find the number for Domino’s and as I’m scrolling through her contacts I come across the phone number of the dead best friend. Biggest “what the heck” moment of my life. The next day I called it from a pay-phone at Waffle House and she picked up. I instantly recognized the voice and accent. She’s not dead. Second biggest “what the heck” moment of my life.
Turns out, my mom had been lying all these years about her BEST FRIEND BEING DEAD. It was beyond messed up.