Family Secrets Exposed

August 24, 2022 | Luke Miles

Family Secrets Exposed

These Redditors share their stories of what they discovered about their deceased loved ones. From unknown oddities to shocking secrets, these stories prove that even our closest family members have something to hide.

1. Onion Bread Sticks

My parents regularly made onion bread sticks for my great-grandparents. For someone not aware, it’s bread cut into strips and onion soup mix mixed in butter and slathered on before baking until crispy. And that's where this story takes a dark turn.

We found out after both had passed that my great grandma always kept one from each batch and hid it away in a Ziploc. She’d repeat until full and then start a new Ziploc. This went on for ten years. We visited every other month. Imagine finding 60 of those in varying states of decay.

Family SecretsFlickr, Nic McPhee

2. No Explanation

A year after my parents divorced, my father took early retirement, sold the house, and moved with his mother from Ohio to Florida. All of this was very sudden and rushed; he accepted the first offer that was made on the house. He passed 18 months later. In his effects, we found his medical records—and that's when we learned the heartbreaking truth.

He had pancreatic cancer, did nothing to treat it, and never told a soul. He found out, retired, moved someplace warm, and waited. I also found his medals from his time in the Marines, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. My father was the poster child for PTSD.

A few years later, Grandma and I had a real heart-to-heart. She said I never really met the real him, a piece of him never really left Vietnam. He expired a broken and depressed man and told no one he knew that his time was up.

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3. A Bond Between Brothers

So, about 40 years ago, my dad’s baby brother was in a BAD accident. He was driving a big rig through Alberta, and the stretch of highway he was on was raised up above the land around it. His cab ended up on one side of the road, his trailer on the other. He had to be air-lifted to the hospital. He was in a coma for days.

He couldn’t walk for a while after he woke up, but couldn’t remember he couldn’t walk, so kept trying to get out of his wheelchair and falling flat on his face—it was BAD.

My dad and their parents flew in from BC to be there for him. He pulled through, though had some minor brain damage. Went on to become a teacher, moved to Japan, got married, and had a couple of kids. Seven years ago, he went for a walk on New Year’s Day, but he never came home.

They found his body on the hiking trail. He’d had an aneurysm.

After his memorial service, my dad and I were staying up late into the night talking over some drinks. And the topic of his accident came up. Now, the first time I’d heard about the accident, I was a curious 10-year-old that had just noticed one of his pupils was bigger than the other. So I’d asked about it, and he told me the story over ice cream.

So when my dad brought up his hospital stay, I told him what I remembered being told: that when he finally woke up from his coma, he was alone in the room, but the room felt like my dad, and he knew he’d been there for him. My dad doubled over sobbing. He’d never known.

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4. Withdrawn Cousin

My cousin hadn’t totally withdrawn and become reserved like I thought. It was just around family. I had no clue what was going on behind closed doors.

His narcissistic mother forced him to hide his tattoos (which I also found out about when he was admitted to the hospital) under long sleeves, and our (also narcissistic) grandfather snapped at him when he was younger that he talked too much and was annoying. So my cousin just shut down and didn’t do much at family gatherings.

He was his normal, joking self that I knew and idolized as a kid when he was with his friends, though. It broke my heart.

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5. Surprising Ancestry

When my father’s mother passed, I found out where I actually come from. My father was doing the paperwork that comes with a family loss, and he tries to correct his mother’s maiden name. It turns out the form he was reviewing was correct.

She’d been born out in Saskatchewan to Ukrainian immigrants who suffered a lot of discrimination at the time. At 16 she hopped a train to Ontario, and when she got off, she told everyone her maiden name was something suitably WASPy, married a nice Canadian boy, had three kids, and never told anyone she was Ukrainian.

One of my aunts figured out something was up in her late teens when she found stuff written in Cyrillic in her mother’s personal papers, but her mother asked her to respect her privacy, and she kept her lips shut until her mother passed.

As a kid, your grandmother is just your grandmother. It was a big surprise to me, and I’m still kind of taken aback that I was suddenly a quarter of something so different than the other three quarters of my ancestry, who have been in Canada and the New World a very, very long time.

It’s funny, looking at pictures of her now as an adult. She’s the most Ukrainian-looking woman you’ve ever seen, and my father takes after his mother, and I have more of my dad in me than Mom looks-wise. I was once invited to a Ukrainian family’s BBQ, and some old woman grabbed me by the face and started pointing my head at people.

“Western Ukraine! Western Ukraine”! she cried in a thick accent. She then grabbed my date’s face. "Eastern Ukraine! Eastern Ukraine”! I had to tell her my date was Irish-Italian without any Ukrainian in her at all. Still, half-right isn’t too bad!

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6. Doing His Best To Help

My grandfather was a bank executive at a small bank in a farm town in Arkansas. After his passing, my mother opened his safety deposit box—and couldn't believe her eyes.

She found his hidden ledger. He made loans to people the bank had denied due to background, type of employment, and/or skin color. He made the loans from his own pocket.

Most of the loans were between $200 to $500. He charged a nominal percentage rate and everything he earned in interest, he donated to the church. My grandmother had no idea and was heart-warmed when she found out. He left us in 1972.

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7. Practically A Saint

My maternal grandmother, we found out after she had passed, was using 10% of her income to sponsor unfortunate kids all over the world. She had been doing it for the last 40 years of her life nonstop. We found letters of her giving those kids advice, and then keeping in contact with them pretty much their whole lives. She received pictures of them growing up, and having families.

Essentially, my grandmother had far more than five kids. She helped to raise more grandchildren and great-grandchildren than we ever knew. Most of the kids she sponsored were orphans. We spent the next several months after her death getting in touch with all these people. Some managed to attend her funeral. Some made a trip to where we spread her ashes and sent us photos of them there.

We knew she was a saint to us, but we didn’t know she was a saint to hundreds of children spanning four decades.

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8. He Wasn’t A Guy Everyone Loved

I’d always been told my paternal great-grandad was the kind of guy everyone loved, and a nice person. Turns out he only showed that side to certain people, and last year, my dad exposed him for he truly is.

He was a lying, narcissistic jerk who’d do anything to benefit himself. Apparently, he was a notorious swindler and would swipe things and sell them, and would make up huge lies to get himself some cheap momentary gain.

Like he purposely injured himself at work to get compensation. He would sneak onto public transport without paying, and if a conductor came around asking to see tickets, he’d get all Karen on them and rage about how disgusting it was that they were doubting him and painting him as a freeloader (which he was). He would threaten to get them fired until they left him alone.

He took my dad to a football game when he was a kid, but didn’t buy tickets and basically did loads of research about one of the team’s managers and when they arrived, he lied that they were friends of the manager and that he’d promised them free tickets because my dad was disabled (he wasn’t). But that wasn't the worst thing he did.

He also took his own wife’s wedding ring, sold it at a pawn shop, and told her my dad had done it. Just an uncaring no-good cheapskate.

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9. Not Entirely Hardened By Life

I packed up my godfather/uncle’s apartment. He never had any children. So I thought it was my duty to clean his apartment. He was one of those men hardened by life, yet for a few members of his family, he was the kindest man. The rest of the world, in his opinion, could back right off. So I find his wallet and open it—and I almost burst into tears.

A bunch of ID, appointment cards, and whatnot. In there was a picture of baby me and him on the day of my baptism. Even 13 years later on, it still makes me happy and sad.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

10. Penny Pincher’s Scavenger Hunt

Not necessarily life-changing, but my great grandfather had always been a penny pincher his whole life. He would do things like go with my great grandmother to go shopping, but he would sit at the front of the store and when it was time to check out, he would come up and pay to make sure everything was accounted for. We don’t know why because he grew up pretty well off.

We think he was just a stingy man regardless because he didn’t trust anyone with his money. He didn’t trust banks to hold his money. He had a checking account and was very strict about what went in, but he refused to have a savings account for fear that the bank might steal his money.

So following his passing, it turned out that he had his money in different places around the house, but he hid clues in his journals about where it was. The journals covered almost 40 years and every single day no matter what happened.

My great uncle and his family ended up managing to find some of the money just by looking through the house, but they ended up having to use the journals when they weren’t sure. We’re fairly certain they finally found all of it, but who knows? But we had no clue that he was that concerned about somebody stealing money from him until after he passed.

Family SecretsFlickr, Hilde Skjølberg

11. Hidden Struggles

After my grandma passed on, I found out she had seasonal depression while going through her stuff. When I asked my mom about it, she confirmed and then told me that some days when it was bad weather outside, my grandma would burst out in tears while looking out of the window.

This still makes me so sad to think about—my adorable, happy grandma struggling and being sad. God, I miss her so much.

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12. The Greatest Gift

My dad lost his life suddenly of a heart attack almost four years ago. A month after that, I found a journal he wrote to me when he found out my mom was pregnant. It’s titled “To my daughter”. Its contents destroyed me.

He wrote about the first time he felt me kick, choosing my name, what was going on in the world at the time, and how excited he was to be a father and to know me. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten.

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13. Rockstar’s Unrequited Love

In 2006 after my aunt passed, I found a letter addressed to my aunt from Kirk Hammett, the guitar player from Metallica. The family knew that they had had a relationship. My grandma had this pop-up crystal Japanese thing (that she herself broke accidentally) on the fireplace.

We went to see Metallica in 1997 and had backstage passes (I was 12), so we knew a relationship of some sort existed. But reading this letter, Kirk was in love with my aunt. He had written dates and phone numbers correlating, so she could know which to call.

I can’t remember the year the letter was written, but it was before cellphones. He had talked about how much he liked her. My aunt, though, had not shared the same feelings back.

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14. Sneaky Grandma

I used to ask for copies of recipes of my favorites, but I could never make it taste right. I’d cook things with her that, when I did it without her helping, never tasted right. Always got the, “Oh don’t worry, it takes practice”. Thought I was just a terrible cook for years. But later, I found out the truth.

When clearing out her home after she passed recently, my dad found a secret stash of recipes very well hidden. Turns out all the “copies” she wrote for us were wrong, deliberately. I’m 43 and just started making these recipes again off her secret stash of recipes, and wouldn’t you know, I can make them so they taste the way they should.

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15. Secondary Button

After my cousin had a motorcycle accident, I cleaned out his apartment along with his brother. Nothing strange in particular, then went over to his computer to erase his history (as a bro should). Turns on. Linux OS. Encrypted. Asked for password. Then a loud bang just goes off.

The computer just dies. Turns out he’d set up the PC to self-destruct. I had failed to press some secondary button unknown to me. And there was a shell filled with pellets aimed at the hard drive, rigged to go off if the button wasn’t pressed. Obliterated the hard drive.

To this day, I wonder what he had on there to go to such lengths to keep hidden.

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16. Genius Electrical Engineering

The smoke detector started beeping. It’s a very old one, like from the 1980s. I open it up. No battery, and a bundle of wires leading through the wall into the garage. I go into the garage and trace the wires.

They lead to a modern smoke detector in the garage, and a 12-volt battery. He had connected the old smoke detector’s beeper to the new one, so he could hear it inside if there was a fire in the garage. My grandfather was a retired electrical engineer. When I saw that, I just shook my head and said, “That crazy old engineer”. Genius move, but the work of a man with too much time on his hands.

Family SecretsFlickr, The EnergySmart Academy

17. Letting Her Shine

No terrible secrets or anything here, just a sweet story that tells what kind of person my grandpa was. A family friend stood up to speak about my grandfather at his funeral. His favorite story, he said, was the time the power went out during a storm and they had to use candles to see by. Now, my aunt had been gifted a candle-making set as a child and made many beautiful candles that she couldn’t wait to light.

But considering that the family lived in an ancient, rustic, very wooden farmhouse, Grandma would never allow my aunt to light the candles. However, one night during a storm, the power went out and with no other option, they had to light my aunt’s candles. She was so proud of herself. She went around for weeks afterward talking about how she’d saved the family.

The family friend looked over at her, tears streaming down her face with a big smile. Then he dropped a bombshell. “This was the kind of guy Bob was. Forty years later and he went to his grave without telling his daughter he turned the power off for her to get to light her candles".

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18. Devoted Caretaker

My dad had the saddest story about this. My grandmother had nine kids, so they had a caretaker (living in an Asian country at that time, so it was affordable) taking care of them. She took care of the kids and stayed with them even when my grandfather briefly went bankrupt, working for free in exchange for meals and lodgings, just to be with the kids.

My dad’s family decided to move out of the country and she stayed back since she was too old to make the move. My grandfather bought her a house in her village, and still sent her money every month anyway, since she was like family. She would always send little trinkets for my dad and his siblings even though they were all grown up now.

They tried telling her to stop since international shipping was even more expensive in those days, but she kept doing it anyway. One day, the trinkets stopped coming and after that, they couldn’t get hold of her. They got worried, so my dad and one of my uncles flew to her village to check on her, only to discover the worst had come to pass.

She had passed. Since she had no relatives, she willed everything to my dad and his siblings. When they went to her house, it was horrible. She was living in absolute poverty. She slept on the floor, only had makeshift furniture, and no proper cutlery/dishes. They found a box with all her valuables and it only contained pictures of my dad and his siblings and most of the money my grandfather gave her.

She remembered how bad it was when my grandfather went bankrupt, so she wanted to make sure she had savings she could give to the kids in case it happened again. She herself lived in the most miserly way. The only luxuries she allowed herself was mailing little trinkets to my dad and his siblings.

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19. The Secret Recipe

Wow, my nana had a famous chicken stew. Wouldn’t share the recipe at all. After she passed, my grandfather admitted it was just canned creamy chicken soup, some veggies, and KFC chicken. I make it now, but no wonder it had a certain taste. It was KFC chicken!

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

20. The Real Sources

My family ran a multimillion-dollar company that we shut down shortly before I was born because my grandfather perished in a horrific accident. For years I thought the company was how we inherited our fortune and that’s what I told my friends. But that wasn't actually true.

Once I was old enough to inherit some of the money, my mom revealed that the company wasn’t worth nearly as much money as we have. Turns out my grandfather bought around eight substantial life insurance policies and lost his life a few weeks later. Most of our money comes from his passing and that was news I wasn’t prepared for.

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21. Sweet Love Letter

My grandfather passed almost two years ago. He suffered from Parkinson's for 15 years and that lead to other health issues. In the last few years, his cognitive abilities were very compromised. In a brief moment of clarity, though, he decided to do something special.

He wrote a long note for my grandma. It was a collection of memories from the time they got married, purchased a ranch, had children, and other life moments. It was very sweet and so precious. He didn’t give it to my grandma, so she discovered it many months after his passing.

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22. Nutter Butter Cookies

A bit late to the party, grandmother passed a couple of years ago. Before then, my dad helped her with her numerous medications and tried to keep her on a relatively strict diet. When we went through Gammy's house, we found almost a dozen (some unopened, some half-empty) boxes of Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies stashed all over the house (under pillows, under the bathroom sink, behind her dresser, etc.)

And one half-eaten loaf of bread in the closet. As Gammy was a woman who was so “good” for her whole life (no drinking ever, bills on time, raised two boys, and always had dinner on the table by 5:30, etc.), I like to think of the cookies as her own little act of rebellion.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

23. Grandpa Thought Wrong

My grandpa was a preacher in a little town in South Carolina in the early 50s. He preached at the white church most of the month and would go preach at the Black church once a month to give their preacher a break. He struck up a friendship with one of the guys at that church and eventually wore the guy down enough that he came to the white church for a visit.

See, Grandpa had never experienced these people as being anything less than totally welcoming and he thought they all believed as he did, that everyone is a child of God and welcome in church, no matter who they were. Well, he was totally wrong.

So the poor guy comes in and is made to sit in the very last row and is totally ignored. They wouldn’t even bring communion to him. Grandpa got down from the pulpit, ripped the communion stuff out of someone’s hands, and took it to his friend himself. Then he got back up at the pulpit and yelled at everyone about how God loves everyone equally and doesn’t differentiate based on color and made quite a stink.

There was a cross burning on his lawn that night. He had little kids and a wife to take care of, so he couldn’t fight the way he wanted to. Two weeks later, he moved back to his hometown in Texas, where they accepted Grandpa and his beliefs in people’s equality much more readily.

WHY I wasn’t told about this before Grandpa passed, I’ll never know. He was a class act from beginning to end. What every Christian is supposed to be and so few manage.

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24. Unsent Letters

Grandparent passed. I was staying at their house alone before the funeral. I was looking for something to write with in the standard desk drawer you put that stuff in. I found a very honest letter written to a family member.

I felt obligated and spent the entire night checking every nook and cranny of the house for more letters. I think it was their version of therapy. I told two people and explained the letters that related to them. For some letters, it was agreed to destroy them and only let me be the person who knew what was in them. Some of those letters explained a lot and covered gaps I never could understand.

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25. More Accomplished Than Anyone Thought

My uncle had multiple master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and a law degree. But he lived with my grandma for a really long time, only working part-time as a helper for older people, so we always thought he was a loner who barely accomplished anything.

I guess he was a consultant for a while, but was devastated when his boyfriend died, so kind of fell off the radar and moved home with his mom until he randomly passed a few years ago. Also, my grandpa was actually his second wife’s teacher. They didn’t get together until he was 50 and she was 30, though.

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26. A Shallow Man

My great-uncle was something of a shallow man—if someone didn’t have money, he didn’t respect them. When my paternal grandfather and grandmother (this was when my father, uncle, and aunt were very young) fell on hard times, my great-uncle refused to let them spend the night, and the five of them had to take a crowded night train to a different destination.

My aunt was less than five at the time. I was surprised to hear this, and remarked to my father how my great-uncle always seemed to respect our family now. His response shocked me.

My father said, “That’s because we aren’t struggling”. In contrast to his childhood in that specific time. Admittedly, I wouldn’t really say that my great-uncle was someone I loved...but still, it changed the way I thought about him.

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27. He Predicted His Outcome

My husband passed young, at 30, from a brain aneurysm. Not something we discovered from going through his things, but rather from getting together for a chat. His mother, myself, and his best friend were talking shortly after he lost his life, and it got onto the subject of his birth mother (he was adopted). His mother was saying that he had never showed any interest in finding his birth parents.

Then his best friend admitted to us that my hubby had actually tried to find out when he was 19. He contacted the adoption agency for info on his birth mother, and looked into it briefly, only to find out that she had passed on at 37. He had never mentioned it to anyone other than his best friend.

He used to say that he was convinced he’d be lucky to make 30, due to his unhealthy lifestyle (no exercise, bad diet, smoking—although, as far as we know, his end was not really related to this and he wasn’t overweight or even unwell before his passing), and we could never figure out why he was so sure. I guess he must have just thought that based on the age his mother passed on.

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28. The Ways He Was A Victim

I found out that my recently passed father had been stalked and harassed during the last days of his life. He wasn’t one to ask for help, so he ignored the fact that his fling began to call his workplace and that his current girlfriend tried to get him kicked onto the street. She coaxed him into her house and it’s still not clear just how he lost his life.

He was rendered nearly penniless before his end.

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29.  Salad Fork Packets

My aunt was a nice, religious woman who mainly kept to herself. After she passed, we went through her stuff and found two odd things. One was that she had scripture scribbled on note cards everywhere. Weird scripture too, sometimes the same line over and over. And these cards were hidden all throughout the apartment in large stacks.

The second was McDonald’s salad fork packets. She had maybe, like, five full drawers throughout the apartment stuffed to the brim with McDonald’s fork packs.

Family SecretsFlickr, Marco Verch

30. Quirky Job Title

I found out that when my dad applied to a job in IT, which kickstarted his career and eventually led to him working at IBM, he wrote on his resume that he was currently a “Pizza Pie Engineer”. He got the job.  I just found this out today and it made me smile. I’ll miss him forever.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

31. Vintage Collection

While helping my dad go through my mom’s things after she passed, we came across a stack of four old hat boxes and three cylindrical cases. I immediately knew that the cylindrical cases were Shriners fez cases because I already have two that I had collected years ago. Sure enough, there were three beautifully bejeweled fezzes in those cases.

The hat boxes contained a collection of different vintage hats, including several amazing completely feathered hats. The strange part was that neither my dad nor I knew that she had even bought any hats, let alone that she had amassed such a collection. I’m a vintage seller on eBay and we talked almost every single day, yet she never mentioned anything about them.

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32. A Bit Of A Hypocrite

My grandpa was an overgrown kid who owned the local toy store in town. After Toys “R” Us ran him out of business, he became a Santa at the local mall and sold handmade puppets and dolls on Etsy. So it came as quite a surprise when we found a manuscript buried beneath a mound of rejection letters entitled Putting Away Childish Things.

It was a 300-page riff on Corinthians where he shamed American men for refusing to put away their LEGOs and grow up.

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33. Sentimental Value

I cleared out my dad’s house a couple of weeks ago, like a complete top-to-bottom purge of everything. I found all the stuff that he used to make Halloween costumes with and kept everything usable. Found a couple of his old costumes as well! But the thing that got to me most was a box we found in the attic.

Now, my dad has never been a sentimental man—he regularly got rid of things without remorse—but in this box was every card I had ever bought him. Birthday cards, Father’s Day cards, Christmas cards, everything.

He had kept every single one, along with ticket stubs to every concert he’d taken me to, and he’d even kept the old bus passes that we’d used before he had a car (featuring photos of a five-year-old me). I know this is probably the usual things that a parent keeps, but it was so lovely to know all of these things I gave him meant enough to him that he would collect and keep them over an 18-year period.

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34. The Things You Can Find

When my great-grandfather passed, we had to clean out his house, which he had lived in for YEARS. I don’t know if he built and moved into the house before or after his wife passed. But either way, he still had a lot of stuff of hers. Like a set of suitcases (gawd-awful orange, hard, super heavy), a few of her handbags (various styles, all vintage, and interesting-looking), stuff like that.

The weirdest was an old hairdryer. It was basically a plastic bag you put it over your hair with a tube off of it and a little air pump. I would never put that thing on my head. Then just general other stuff. Actually looking at dates of things, there were very few things in his house that were less than 25 to 30 years old.

Radio, record player, TV, lava lamp, lamps, vases, plates, etc. All kinds of stuff. We actually kept quite a bit because it would really be a shame to let it go.

Family SecretsFlickr, Marco Verch

35. A Simple Woman

It’s not weird, but I’ve recently had to clean out my grandmother’s house and she really didn’t have much of anything in terms of material possessions. Just basic necessities. I guess the most surprising was just the complete lack of things. But there was one dresser with, like, five drawers that was overflowing with newspaper clippings/photos/mementos of all her loved ones.

In it, I found a little biography that she had filled out about herself and under "hobbies" she had written, “Family comes first”. I honestly don’t think there will ever be another person who loves me as much as she loved me, so I’m trying day by day to incorporate her values into my own lifestyle. She was a very simple woman, but she had the most profound effect on me as a person.

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36. No Reason To Attend

My grandmother—she lived in Florida (me in New Jersey). The day after she passed, I was talking to my mom about if I should fly down there or not for the funeral. She told me that it was up to me, but no one would be mad if I didn’t. Why? Because she wasn’t as great of a person as you think.

She left my father along with seven other children for the better part of 15 years, leaving my grandfather working two jobs and raising eight kids alone. Packed a bag one day and didn’t come back.

I didn’t go to the funeral.

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37. Needing Glasses

My mother passed in 2006. I was 25, she was 46. She never wanted to admit to needing glasses, so she would just buy reading glasses from the dollar store. Often, she would push them up into her hair when not using them, then forget that they were there. Sometimes she would do that twice; two pairs in her hair, looking for a third pair.

When cleaning up her things, we found almost 30 pairs of reading glasses. We placed them on the mantle as a display next to her favorite picture of herself.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

38. Unnoticed Hobbies

My grandmother passed on last month, and that evening, all the family members who made it in time gathered at her condo to make dinner together.

I went from room to room remembering her and noticed a lot of things I hadn’t before—how much embroidery she did, like all the copies of her late Irish husband’s family crest she’d done, birds, flowers on cushions, and a whole table set with ten napkins and placemats in addition to the tablecloth in traditional Swedish embroidery (where her family is from).

She also had a small box of seed pearls displaying perfume samples on her dresser.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

39. Missed Connection

My stepmother passed in January. We’d fallen out of contact about 15 years ago, after my dad had passed. I found out that she was in town and in contact with family friends who know how to contact me. She could have called. And she just didn’t. If I would have known she was in the same city and in contact with our friends, I would have called her. That’s one heck of a missed connection.

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40. Never Being Hungry Again

The most interesting thing we found out about my grandmother was she had clearly never recovered from living through the depression era as a kid. Her fridge was jam-packed with food. The freezer had steaks that had to have been there since the Carter administration. She had boxes and boxes of cereal.

Her basement was like a fallout shelter; cobblestone basement with walls lined with canned goods, like tomatoes to make sauce with and beans and boxes of pasta. Food “hidden” throughout the house.

And her house had basically no other things. She didn’t keep a lot of stuff. Her furniture was ancient. Her toaster oven had to be adjusted with a pair of pliers. But she seemed pretty determined on never being hungry again.

Family SecretsPicryl

41. Beautiful Graphite Sketches

When my pop passed, we were going through boxes in the basement and found piles of his drawing books. They were these beautiful graphite sketches of wildlife and scenery he’d seen while in the woods (he worked for the logging mill). My sister and I have always painted and sketched, but we never knew where the skill came from until that moment.

It was very emotional. I wish I could have known and talked to him about it when he was alive, but he was always a very introverted and quiet man.

Family SecretsFlickr, Arturo Espinosa

42. Mutual Appreciation

My wife of 21 years passed. Going through stuff—including “get well” notes and cards, I saw how many times she told friends and others what a loving, caring husband I was. For all these years I thought I had “married up”—way above what I deserved. Surprised to see she felt the same about me.

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43. The Chestnut Tree

When I was a kid, the house next door had a huge chestnut tree. I used to pick chestnuts up and “sell” them for a penny each. My grandma was the only one who ever bought them, except maybe twice my mom did. When my grandma passed, we went through her stuff and in her desk, and lo and behold she had two chestnuts wrapped in tissue paper. Two of the many that I had sold to her.

I kept them and have them to this day.

Family SecretsPexels

44. Stock Markets And Ramblers

My grandfather was a millionaire. He played the stock market for fun in his spare time and we only found out when we saw the paperwork from all the stock he owned in a battered suitcase in his loft. My father is one of three kids and we had to pay masses of inheritance tax, but it was enough money to buy a house outright!

He also loved rambling, but I only knew when 30 ramblers turned up at his funeral. At 89 he was out in shorts, in all weathers, leading the ramblers group. It was a shame he didn’t share more of his life with us before he passed.

Family SecretsFlickr, Glenn Nelson

45. Local Newspaper

My mother passed in a car accident when I was 15. Her whole life, she had looked out for others, and never expected anything back. Before the end of her life, she had lost her job, and had a major surgery, so money was tight. She passed at the beginning of November. A few weeks after her accident, my family was contacted by our local newspaper.

Each year they picked families to receive assistance during the holidays (it’s been a bit, I don’t remember specifically what kind), and my mother had written in before her accident. They had picked us and wanted to speak with my mother. Needless to say, when they found out what had happened, they were more excited to help. They came out and wrote a very nice article about her in the paper.

It’s really stuck with me that despite all the things she was going through, her primary thought was about her family. Miss her every day.

Family SecretsPexels

46. Musical Instruments

Going through my grandfather’s stuff back in 2010, we discovered that he was really interested in trying to learn to play different types of musical instruments. He had a couple of really nice guitars, an electric piano that must have cost him a fortune back in the 80s, and a trumpet. He also had a bunch of how-to books on each instrument.

We asked Grandma about it and she told us he tried, but would always get frustrated and put them away for long periods of time.

Family SecretsPexels

47. Making His Last Days Count

After my great-granddad passed, we found credit card statements. And we couldn’t work out what on earth he’d spent the money on—he lived in a little bungalow with a cat and an old TV. We kept joking we should look for some 80-year-old fancy woman with diamonds and furs. Then we found a letter.

Turned out, when he got his terminal diagnosis, he took out cards at every bank that would have him and started living it up, for creaky-old-man standards of living it up.

Took the whole OAP club to the seaside and paid for everything, staying in the nicer hotel instead of the B&B they usually scrimped and saved for. Bought various bits and pieces for family members, most of which didn’t like to talk about money, so no one knew he’d bought three washing machines in a week. Started drinking the good stuff.

Because he was never going to have any “estate” to leave—the house was rented, the furniture was plywood. All that there was to inherit were sentimental things rather than anything that could be sold for money. And so, after very carefully checking that his daughters wouldn’t have to pay any of it back, he decided to have a good time.

It could have backfired if he’d lived longer than his diagnosis, and it’s a bit naughty, but...he had a great last six months, and left this world with a smile.

Family SecretsPexels

48. The Weirdest Apartment

This is my time to shine. Let me list a few crazy things I’ve found in my mother’s house so far. Firstly, dried blood-soaked sheets neatly folded in the bathrooms. We had to clean out the closets with bleach afterward.

Then we found her former boyfriend’s teeth, not in a typical teeth plastic container, but in a jewelry box. We also discovered the papers she sent her lawyer during the custody dispute with my father almost 20 years ago.

The second paper was a list of reasons I was supposed to remain with her. The first reason listed was, “Daughters need to only live with their mothers”. Eight thousand photos so far. Nothing really good. My mom liked disposable cameras and would keep all of the photos from each one.

Family SecretsPexels

49. Holding A Grudge

When my aunt left us, we found notes scribbled on scratch paper hidden all over the house. It was lists of what people had done to wrong her, things like “didn’t clean the yard correctly” and “didn’t buy the right beverage at the store”, all the way to “jealous of my life” and “can’t stand that my family is better than theirs”.

My mother’s was especially brutal, which was heartbreaking. They were friends for the majority of their lives, until my aunt’s unhealthy habits changed her. She passed a bitter, hateful woman surrounded by people who loved what she used to be, but couldn’t stand what she had become.

Family SecretsPexels

50. He Liked Digging

We found three extra rooms. Apparently, my uncle liked digging under his house and had created a huge underground area—10-foot ceilings reinforced with steel I-beams, painted cinder block walls, and these ridiculous steel doors in all the rooms.

It looked like he was taking things very seriously to keep his house from caving into the hole he dug. Even had drains in the middle of all the rooms in case of flooding, I guess. You would never suspect it, as it was just a house in a normal neighborhood. All sorts of crazy stuff down there.

Looked like he might have spent a few years straight-up exclusively living down there; lots of handmade wicker furniture, and creepy clay sculptures...

Family SecretsFlickr, denisbin


Sources: Reddit, , , , ,

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