The Most Distressing Family Secrets

October 25, 2023 | Rebecca Wong

The Most Distressing Family Secrets

You can depend on your family for anything—at least, in theory. What happens when a family member decides to keep a secret close to their chest for years? For these people, the reveal of family secrets has resulted in laughter, while others have been left in tears. Read on to find out what these families do when their secrets are dragged into the light.

1. An Unexpected Friend

So, the story goes that my great-grandpa didn't really treat my grandma well. He worked as a mechanic or an auto repair guy, and my grandma often visited his garage. There was this guy who frequented the shop and lavished some extra attention on my grandma. 

One day, he gifted my grandma a delicate, really expensive-looking porcelain doll. With a stern look, he turned to my great-grandpa and warned, "Whatever happens to this doll, will happen to you". The surprising twist is that this regular customer was none other than the famous Al Capone.

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2. A Story Straight From Hollywood

About a month ago, I attended the funeral of a close school friend who had tragically passed in his early 30s. He left behind his wife and three young children. We stayed in touch casually over the years, and I had only met his wife a few times. 

When I arrived, I was struck by how composed his wife appeared, thinking that we all deal with grief in our unique ways. After expressing my condolences, I found myself catching up with several old college buddies. Later, my deceased friend's wife approached us, extending an invitation for drinks, as her parents were looking after her kids. 

Initially, I considered declining until she disclosed that she had a startling revelation to share with us. It turned out, she had discovered something shocking in the week after his passing, while sorting through his belongings. She wasn't as devastated as we'd expected because she had learned her husband had been leading a double life for over 13 years. 

We believed his tale of being the wealthy child of a former trucking company owner. Based on his lifestyle, it seemed plausible. Moreover, he had told us his mother passed during our college days. He made it believable by saying he was an only child. 

He also mentioned his transfer to Vanderbilt after leaving our college in our sophomore year, even sharing photos from the university campus. He said he received a master's degree from another prestigious school, which seemed feasible, especially when his company had professional dealings with mine.

However, none of it was real. His mother, who we'd believed was deceased, and his sister, whom we never even knew existed, attended his funeral. It was shocking for everyone, including his wife, who was previously convinced that his real mother was his aunt and his sister was a cousin. 

The lies seemed endless as his entire fabricated life was slowly exposed to us. It turned out, his claims about his academic achievements were false. He had transferred to an online college and earned a bachelor's degree, using photos from Vanderbilt to mislead us. 

His father's trucking company did exist, but it crashed and was sold off, contrary to his claims. The trust fund he so proudly proclaimed to have set up for the children didn't actually exist. On top of everything, he had lied to his wife about not having student loans, where he was concealing a debt of $78k. 

Unbeknownst to her, he had maxed out several credit cards. And the final blow—he had been unfaithful to his wife, spoiling other women with lavish dinners, casino outings, and hotel stays. It's no surprise that his wife was enraged, finding solace in the fact that she wasn't the only one deceived. 

It was like being in the midst of a dramatic movie plot. I had never imagined such elaborate tales could exist outside of fiction. Despite my sorrow for losing my friend, it was apparent that none of us had truly known him. Now, our focus is to support his wife and children in any possible way.

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3. A Surprising Windfall

A friend of a friend reached out to me for help clearing out his father's home. During the clearing, we stumbled upon a strangely positioned wall. As we demolished it, astonishingly, huge piles of tightly bound cash tumbled out. We added it up, and shockingly, it amounted to $1 million—all in $20 bills. 

Our best guess is, perhaps after a huge windfall from gambling, the dad thought to keep his stash safe from the prying eyes of the tax collector and his ex-wife.

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4. A Real Femme Fatale

My mom and her close friend were in their mid-twenties during WWII. After the war, her friend got mixed up in some suspicious dealings alongside a French army colonel. They were caught—the colonel was sent back to France, while her friend ended up bhind bars. My mom wasn't going to stand by and do nothing; she came up with a daring plan.

In a wild move, she charmed a guard to help her friend escape. Her friend then jetted out of Germany and headed to Australia. There, she married her Jewish boyfriend, who had left Germany beforehand. The two women stayed best friends, and when my dad retired, they moved to Australia. I only recently discovered this.

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5. His Lips Were Sealed

I had a mentor who was super smart. He held a PhD in Engineering, an MBA, and a Law degree—all from Harvard. Also, he was the most emotionally intelligent person I've ever met in my 30 years in academia. We got very close over time. We were so close he was even a special guest at my wedding. But there was always this one thing I never got about him.

Here's the thing. Every time we'd dine out in a big city, people would stop by to chat with him and often interrupted our meals. On one occasion, someone even picked up our entire bill without saying a hello. He never explained who these folks were and why this kept happening. 

Then, one day, I overheard a first name of a guy who gave him a big hug and thanked him for everything. I did some digging and found out this guy was an astronaut—not just a standby crew member, but someone who actually went to space. It blew me away. 

I pressed him for details, but he told me it was better to let bygones be bygones for our own good. I took his word for it; he was never one for drama. After he passed, his family got in touch with me. They told me that over a thousand people wanted to host an event in his honor. 

It was puzzling for me, knowing him so well, yet having no clue why thousands wanted to celebrate him. But it finally made sense when they revealed, these folks knew him, though they didn't know each other. Here's what I discovered. 

My mentor had a hand in designing the U2 spy plane after a pivotal role in WWII where his strategy to optimize available armor plating made a game-changing difference. He carried a heavy burden, worrying that folks from his past might come back to cause harm to me or his family. So, he proudly took this magnificent feat to his grave.

All these people were part of the U2 project, yet they worked in isolation. That's why they knew him but were strangers to each other. Talk about leading an extraordinary life.

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6. A Painful White Lie

My parents had a love like no other, so it baffled me why I was an only child. On my 18th birthday, I finally learned the reason: my mom had an untreatable brain tumor discovered on the day I was born. Her doctors gave her no timeline, explaining she could live till 100 or pass the next day, but having another child was out of the question. 

In response to my dad's question about her life's wish, her answer was heartrendingly clear: she was determined that her daughter should never know the truth. She didn't want me living in fear, but ironically, I was the only one oblivious of the truth. Everyone in our community, all our friends and relatives, had known for 18 years. 

The truth hit me hard when I moved out for college. Tragically, my mom passed on the first day I arrived. The instant my dad and I entered my dorm room carrying the first set of packed boxes, the dorm room phone was ringing with the news.

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7. The Runaway

The unexpected unraveling of truth happened during the funeral of the grandfather of my best friend. He had left behind a letter that shed light on his life, a letter to be read aloud at his last farewell. The family had always believed that he was an orphan at birth, with no immediate living relatives. 

However, the revelations in the letter turned their world upside down and scribbled a new portrait of their dearly loved grandpa. In the letter, he confessed that he ran from his home after witnessing the exploitation of people by his father, a then wealthy pastor. 

Torn by the deceit perpetrated towards vulnerable people, he chose to adopt a new identity and travelled far away to embark on a fresh life journey. He also unveiled the existence of his siblings, many of whom were still around. 

After uncovering the atrocities committed by the patriarch of that family, none of his descendants wished to extend a line of communication with these newfound relatives. The malpractice of exploiting people for their hard-earned money seemed to be deeply rooted and persistent in that side of the family. 

Some of them were serving their time behind bars, while others lived lavishly, banking on the ill-gotten wealth, without ever doing any real work.

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8. The Worst Way To Reveal A Secret

This story is about someone I knew pretty well. We attended high school together, and later, coincidentally, we both worked at the same location. He'd drive me home sometimes as we lived nearby. One fateful day, while cruising around our neighborhood on his motorcycle, he had an accident and subsequently passed from internal injuries.

At the funeral, speaker after speaker praised him for being such an amazing son, fondly recounting his many virtues. As the eulogies progressed, something dramatic happened. A girlfriend of his came forward to share her grief. 

Suddenly, other women in attendance, each believing herself to be his girlfriend, suddenly realized they weren't the only ones in his life. This revelation turned the somber gathering into utter chaos. It was a jaw-dropping twist no one saw coming.

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9. Talk About Awkward

When Grandma passed in '99, organizing her possessions was our duty. Nestled under her bed, we discovered a mid-sized container filled with roughly 25 antique "personal massagers". This collection was a surprise, given Grandma's firm and devout Southern Baptist nature. Immediately, we presented the massagers to our mom to decide their fate.

Mom, who was rather straightforward, couldn't comprehend the items' purpose, assuming they were average vibrating massagers. She instructed us to put the container in the designated discard pile. Much to our surprise, this pile wasn't destined for the trash. Mom had other plans in store.

Fast forward around a month, I returned home from work to find a surprise yard sale underway. My mom, who was deaf, energetically communicated via sign language that she'd managed to sell the box of "Grandma's massagers" for $50. Plus, she'd unintentionally sold my retro bike. Not a great day, to be honest. 

But seriously—who even buys used personal massagers?

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10. A Real Penny Pincher

Back in the late 90s, my great uncle passed. He was living alone in a pretty run-down apartment in the Bronx, after his wife, who had severe dementia, had passed a couple of years before. Although we all offered him a place in our homes, he preferred to stay put. Mom kept in touch over the phone weekly, but he really didn't like us visiting him.

By the time we learned of his demise, he had been gone for a while already, and his body had been left unattended in the apartment. The place was so messy and filthy that people in protective suits had to step in—not just because of his body, but due to the state of the apartment itself. 

There were boxes packed with cockroaches, piles of old magazines that reached the ceiling, and an unbearable smell of decay. But buried within the mess was something truly surprising. Despite the terrible living conditions, we discovered he owned a significant number of stocks from major companies, purchased back in the 40s and 50s. 

He had enough money to afford a nice place in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood, where he could've spent his remaining days comfortably. It was a shame, really. He was such a warm-hearted man, and we would've been happy to take care of him, even using his own money if he was okay with it. But I guess that's how it goes sometimes. 

In the end, the inheritance went to my granddad, who split it among the family about six years later.

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11. Never Underestimate Grandpa

Just a few years following my grandma's passing, we discovered something astounding about my grandpa. It turned out that he unknowingly had a son who'd been adopted over six decades ago. Since then, grandpa has had the chance to meet him a handful of times. This revelation even made the news—after which, another surprise popped up.

A different elderly gentleman contacted us, revealing that he too was a son of grandpa, but from another woman. This led us to probe grandpa about the possibility of even more hidden offspring. To our surprise, he provided us with a speculative list. We're pretty sure there's a half-Japanese child, and maybe even a half-Korean child from his WWII marine days.

But the best part of all? They've blended into our family gatherings seamlessly. What's even more heartwarming is knowing how much grandma would have adored these new family members. She would have no doubt wanted to adopt them all, fitting her dream of having 15 children. 

Grandpa may have initially been opposed to the idea of having children, but he now admits how delighted he is to have his lively brood of 11.

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12. When Motherhood Goes Wrong

I found out that my mom left her eight-year-old daughter at a school when we moved from England. After that, she denied having that daughter and my other half-sister. I also came to know she placed my two elder biological sisters into orphanages as she didn't wish to handle more children. My grandparents are the only reason they were able to reunite with our family.

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13. Speaking the “Bear” Truth

Turns out, my great-granddad wasn't, as the story goes, gobbled up by a bear on Mt Rainier during his time as a park ranger. Rather, he was having an affair behind my great-grandmother's back, and because of that, her brothers drove him out of town. 

He then resettled in Alaska, and no one had any clue what happened to him until we found his final resting place, many years later.

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14. Down To The Penny

My folks viewed me not as a child, but as an undertaking, dutifully chronicling every cent they spent on me from the cradle onwards. From holiday gifts to movie nights, even to quarters for the arcade—they tracked it all. Once I got hitched, they tallied gifts for the grandkids and contributions towards our home makeovers, and so on.

One day, as we were clearing my mom's place, I stumbled upon her diaries and a ledger bearing my name, a meticulous record of everything they'd ever given. I also found out she wasn't quite fond of my wife, constantly writing that I had wed someone she thought was socially beneath us. 

We found her copious notes scattered around the house, laying out instructions for us in case of her demise. They left me feeling disillusioned and upset. Among her directives was a restriction against my wife, her family, and friends. They were not to step foot in the house or claim any of her belongings posthumously. 

The irony is, the enormous task of unloading contents from their three jam-packed properties over six months was undertaken by the same people my mother had shunned—my wife and her family. They even helped me offload items we didn't want.

Meanwhile, my own family—the ones on my parents' side—only appeared when it was time for the final property auction. This entire experience drastically altered my perspective on my parents and their supposed love for me.

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15. Hold Your Horses!

My granddad was a lifelong farmer. Every critter under the sun seemed to take a shine to him. It didn't matter where we went, dogs would boldly approach him, horses would nuzzle up, all as if under a special spell. It seemed he had this uncanny ability to win them over—at least, that's what we initially believed. 

However, the truth finally came out. One day, we were tidying his closet and checking his pockets before laundry, ensuring no precious items were mistakenly washed. What we uncovered was quite illuminating: grains, dried meat fragments, doggy snacks, and even pieces of old carrot. 

The so-called natural charm granddad had with animals was not as it seemed. Turns out he had been sneakily 'bribing' the animals with food this entire time.

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16. A Hidden Treasure

My great-grandmother ran a hidden bar in Philadelphia during the Prohibition era. She saved all her earnings in gold form. Over time, she had the gold transformed into picture frames. These were then painted black and displayed all over her home. 

The secret of the gold frames only came to light following her passing when my uncle noticed their unusual weight while taking them down after many years. I had always found the black frames unattractive, but I never bothered to inquire about them.

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17. A Hidden Life

My great-grandparents survived the hardship of the Great Depression. This led them to hoard things most people wouldn't think of keeping. When they both passed, my mother and grandfather started to tidy up their home and get it ready for sale. During this process, they stumbled upon some letters that would change our lives. 

The letters revealed the story of another family—a previous one that my grandfather was part of. My mom managed to track this family down and we got the chance to meet them. They were all Black folks from the Midwest. 

As the story goes, my grandfather had gotten into a bar brawl and feared that he may have inadvertently caused a man's demise. He then decided to desert his family, leave the state, and began anew—but now as a white man, owing to his darker complexion.

It's understandable why he might choose to live as a white man in an age where people of color were facing numerous challenges. Though it may seem like my family should have had some suspicions, I believe the elders may have had their doubts. 

As we pieced together this information, we also discovered who in our family was unwilling to accept this truth.

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18. When Secrets Come Out

I just recently discovered that my grandma's boyfriend, who was part of our lives for about a decade, was living a secret life. In fact, we were the secret. It turns out he had a wife and his own children and grandchildren, none of whom knew about us. 

His wife apparently had serious drinking issues, which he tried to distance himself from. Eventually, he fell in love with my grandma. He passed unexpectedly during a family cruise when we were still children. Grandma had to attend his funeral in secret, sitting right at the back. 

I only came to know all this after questioning my mom about why we never attended his funeral. It's definitely heartbreaking, considering my grandma has been single since then and is now struggling with severe dementia.

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19. It’s Always The One You Least Expect

We had a family friend, a senior citizen known to all of us as the biggest penny-pincher around. He would create a big scene over every little thing, even when he wasn't picking up the tab. But a month after he passed, about fifteen different families came by. 

Turns out, he had been discreetly taking care of their rent, tuition fees, childcare costs and more. He was more of a saint than a miser.

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20. Hopping On The Gravy Train

My dear grandma passed not long ago. She had quite the reputation in our hometown for her outstanding culinary skills, especially her mouth-watering turkey dinners. Her gravy in particular was just to die for. A few years back, she had a heart attack which led her to let me in on some of her secret recipes—all but the famous gravy.

At first I was puzzled why she kept that recipe hush-hush. However, the mystery unfolded when she left us this spring. As I was cleaning out her pantry, I stumbled upon an entire bucket of KFC gravy mix. She was literally using this as the base for her spectacular gravy. Such a huge shock.

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21. Dark Voices

When we lost my grandmother, we came across her previous medical records. They revealed that she'd had a mental health assessment in the late 1970s, and it turned out, she was living with schizophrenia. In the interview recorded in her file, she described her struggles with imagined demons pressuring her to act out. 

She believed any wrongdoing on her part was due to these menacing voices. She was the most gentle, loving, and caring soul I've ever known. I was aware my mother didn't have the easiest upbringing with her, but only truly comprehended it when I read those documents.

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22. A Dark Family Surprise

My wife lost her father about a decade ago. She grew up knowing she had two half-brothers through her mom, who had married two times before marrying her dad. A year ago, my wife decided it was high time to systematically look through the family photographs passed down to her from her parents. 

It's worth mentioning that her mom was relocated to a care facility specializing in dementia a few years prior. While exploring these photos, she began establishing contact with relatives she recognized on Facebook, generously offering them duplicates of any pictures they featured in. 

However, there was one portrait—my wife alongside a young male, slightly older in age—which left her stumped on his identity. This prompted her to inquire amongst the family members she'd connected with. She was not prepared for the revelation that followed.

One relative disclosed that the boy alongside her in the picture was yet another half-brother, a previously unknown sibling. What's more, the newfound brother resided practically in our vicinity, merely 20 minutes away. My wife managed to connect with him via Facebook and they initiated a series of text exchanges. 

His mother had deliberately kept his father (my wife's dad) out of his life after their divorce due to personal bitterness. Heartrendingly, his mother would not allow any contact between her son and my wife's father, effectively preventing any form of bonding. 

Rather than dispute the predicament, her dad resigned himself to keep his distance from his son. After interacting for several weeks, the son, along with his family, visited us, and we hit it off quite well. My wife and her newfound brother, at the very least, text every week. We've since enjoyed dinner outings together and are contemplating a shared vacation soon.

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23. Should’ve Seen It Coming

Before my dad passed, I was his primary caregiver and also managed his financial affairs. I later discovered that my parents separated before I was even born, and I'm the youngest of four children. This, coupled with the fact that I have light hair and blue eyes, while all my siblings have dark hair and brown eyes, sparked my curiosity.

I began to question my mother and other relatives. Initially my mother denied everything, but my persistence led me to take a DNA test. When the test results proved another man was my biological father, she finally told the truth. Our discussion was quite fascinating.

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24. Pure Motor Madness

My Granny never got behind the wheel, or at least that's what I assumed. The topic wasn't really brought up. I remember being around 7 or 8, and I really wanted to go to the store to get candy. We were at my aunt and uncle's place where grandma lived. 

The local store stocked Bit-O-Honey candies which were hard to find back home. Nonetheless, no one would entertain my request to take me to the store. Eventually I said I'd ask grandma. Right then, my cousin chimed in saying, "Grandma doesn't know how to drive". 

To my surprise, grandma overheard and said: "I can drive alright. They just won't let me!" She seemed quite upset. However, that was the end of it, and aunt finally drove me to the store, so I pretty much forgot about it. Years later, with a fresh license in my pocket, I asked mom about the whole grandma not driving thing, and boy did the truth come out. 

Turns out, my grandma used to run cars during the Prohibition. She was quite good at it. In fact, she was so good that when the distillers got busted, she landed in a world of trouble. Despite the authorities never catching grandma red-handed, her license got permanently revoked by the state. 

Hence, she couldn't drive, not because she was unable to but because the state wouldn't permit her. Later on, she was given the option to appeal it, but accepting meant admitting guilt, which she wasn't ready to do. She told them to shove it.

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25. Shady Dealings

About a decade ago, my mom made a surprising discovery. The man who she thought was her biological father was actually her mother's business associate. This man, who she used to fondly call her "uncle" and who passed when she was only seven, was actually her real father. 

She learned this fact not through any doubts of her own, but due to an astonishing revelation by my grandfather. You see, a few years before he passed, my grandfather confessed to my mom. He voiced his doubts about being her real biological father. 

This prompted my mom to dig deeper, and she ended up getting a DNA test, which confirmed this shocking truth. When my mom confronted my grandmother about this matter, my grandmother's reaction was a rather blase, "So it took you this long to figure this out?"

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26. Marriage With A Twist

When I turned 16, my mother and I faced dire straits; we lived in near-poverty and were about to lose our home. The property’s new owners planned to refurbish the long-neglected house we called home, which never really passed any inspections. With no shelter in sight, our situation seemed desperate.

Surprisingly, my mother’s long-lost uncle, my great-uncle, turned up and invited us to live with him. As kids, my mom considered him her favorite uncle, but they disconnected before I was born. Luckily, he resided just a few hours away and was seeking live-in assistance due to his deteriorating health. We thought moving in with him was our best option.

Despite his health challenges, my mother served as his caretaker, driving him to medical checkups, assisting in post-operative care, and more. She dedicated years to his well-being. In return, he nurtured not just us, but also some of my friends. Both he and my mother were the most compassionate, generous individuals I had known.

I'd always regarded him as a father figure. So when he passed shortly after Christmas and just before my 30th birthday, I was grief-stricken. He was admitted to the hospital on my birthday, and he departed less than a week later, unable to withstand one more operation.

I joined my mother in figuring out what to do next. He had left everything to her in his will—his house, savings, everything. Unfortunately, the will disappeared. After tireless searches, we were left empty-handed, but we did discover something else...

We found a marriage certificate establishing that my mother and her uncle were spouses for over ten years. Here's the narrative: one day, during his routine hospital visit for surgery, doctors discovered he needed another surgery. To consent, he needed to regain consciousness after the initially planned operation.

My mother, as his niece, had limited say in such matters. So, why not empower her legally? Excellent health coverage and retirement benefits were part of my great-uncle's package. His wife, my mother, could benefit from his medical insurance, being at an age where healthcare, dental, and vision were crucial. 

Additionally, she was also entitled to his life insurance, social security, and veterans benefits. Throughout his life, I was unaware I could call him my step-father. Fearful that I might judge or misunderstand their relationship, my mother kept it secret. Their bond was not physical. My mother would never have allowed it.

I comprehend now why they chose to not reveal this to me, but it's challenging to disclose it to others. It's not a shameful secret because their bond was anything but conventional. However, it is a reality that requires nuanced explanation, and there's always a chance it might not be easily understood.

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27. I Got Your Back… Not!

It's a bit of a strange tale, but my parents led me to believe that my mom's bad back was due to pressure I put on her spine in childbirth. This was the narrative my whole childhood. Then, in my teens, my older brother revealed that it was a result of my dad pushing my mom during a dispute which caused her to fall and require surgery. 

I lived most of my childhood under the misguided belief that I was responsible for my mom's back issues and they let me think so.

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28. Giving It All Up

My father surrendered a fully-funded math PhD fellowship to get a job and financially support an unexpected pregnancy—that was me. He wanted to be a teacher so badly, and he was innately good at it. Throughout the six decades we shared together, he never brought up his missed chance for the PhD or the fellowship. Not even a single time. 

I discovered this while rummaging through his documents after he passed.

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29. For The Love Of Books

When I was a child, I struggled with dyslexia. My grandpa probably had his own learning challenges, but he would never let that become an obstacle to my love for reading. As a youngster, he would read to me, and as I matured, he would also read my school assignments and trendy young adult novels I enjoyed, so we could chat about them.

We always got our books from the bookstore. However, when his health declined, and he wasn't able to read as he used to, he wanted to hand his store credit over to me. Over the years, his habit of daily reading and donating books back to the store—like a western a day after retirement—added up to a huge pile of store credit.

Now, consider that he also donated all his favorites collected over the years, and you're looking at a lifetime supply of discounts. Nowadays, whenever I'm visiting family, I stop by. The owner jokingly says I'll never be able to exhaust all the credit grandpa accumulated. I wasn't aware of all this, though. 

I only found out at the bookstore, which must have startled the other shoppers there. When grandpa passed, I had returned from college and went to the bookstore to gather some textbooks I needed for the upcoming semester. The lady who runs the bookstore filled me in about my "lifetime discount" when I was checking out. 

I'm not one to make a scene, but that news stirred the waterworks. Let's just say, the meltdown was real and dramatic inside that bookstore that day.

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30. A Sweet Surprise

My father's grandfather lived a fulfilling life until the age of 101. He was the epitome of good health throughout his entire existence. His diet was excellent, including practically no sugar. He had a regular exercise routine and his cognitive abilities and senses remained sharp even during his sunset years. 

He sustained his independence, walking and catching buses all on his own, up to his very last day. Unfortunately, he left us due to some medical complexities following a hip fracture he sustained from a fall on a staircase. After his departure, the task of tidying up the house and sorting out his things fell upon my family. 

In the process, my father came across a hidden treasure tucked in a drawer—a bunch of chocolate bars and their wrappers. He was so committed to maintaining his healthy image that he would sneak in a secret sweet treat away from the eyes of his family.

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31. Hoarding The Wealth

I recently discovered that my biological father earned a six-figure income. Despite this, the tight-fisted man only handed my mom—who was jobless at the time—around $40 every fortnight for child support. 

He should have been providing us with several hundred dollars, and even worse, he completely stopped contributing this small amount towards my upkeep when I was about nine or ten years old. 

To say I was taken aback is an understatement. Particularly because whenever I visited him, we hardly had proper meals. McDonald's or some convenience food from 7/11 was usually our go-to. I can even recollect a day when our entire three meals came from there! 

Despite being cash-strapped, my mother, on the other hand, made an effort to whip up a meal whenever she could.

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32. Age Is Only A Number

My Grandma was actually around 13 years older than we had believed. She had a pretty good reason for not being honest about her age. Apparently, she was trying to conceal a previous marriage before she met my Grandpa. Back in her time, it was frowned upon to marry a woman who had already been married once before. 

We were under the impression she was roughly 85, but in reality, she was 98.

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33. A Love I Never Knew

My dad passed in April after a tough battle with an aggressive form of cancer. He'd beaten it once before, but had to endure intense treatment to do so. This led to him losing his voice and weight, and being forced to rely on a feeding tube to eat. 

Seeing him like this was hard, but when he said he only had a year left, I couldn't help but hope he'd pull through. We had a decent relationship despite my parents being divorced and me not living with him. We didn't connect as often as I would've liked, and I sometimes felt like a bother to him.

When he passed, I was en route to him with a final letter to express my admiration for him but missed him by just half an hour. Later, I was told by my grandma of a box he'd left for me. Both my stepmom and mom knew of this box but didn't disclose what was in it.

I chose to open it myself, and I'm glad for it. Inside, I found all the cards I'd given him as a child and letters my mom wrote about me. What struck me most was their shared affection—her deep love for him, and him trying to be a better person for us. 

Reading these letters by myself in a train station brought tears to my eyes because I realized I'd never been a burden to him. After his passing, my stepmom also gave me a box with personal items from my dad's home office. 

There were pictures of me as a baby, artifacts I'd given him over the years, and other mementos like a clay figurine of his guitar, a guitar pick box, and a cross-stitch of the Judas Priest logo. Seeing these, I felt the warmth of his love and knew that he truly treasured me.

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34. An Ice-Cold Truth

Everyone knew Grandma for her incredible iced tea blend. She made it unlike anyone else. We all believed it was a family secret, passed down over the years—at least, that's how it seemed to me. 

Many years after her passing, we discovered the secret ingredient in her recipe: a can of frozen iced tea, blended with a can of frozen lemonade, and then mixed with water and slices of lemon.

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35. Keeping It In The Family

A couple of years ago, my great-grandfather passed, and not long after, his wife—my great-grandmother—followed him. Through my grandma, I discovered that before my great-grandfather's passing, his wife had sneakily transferred my grandmother's inheritance into her own name. 

When she subsequently passed, her side of the family ended up with all the funds. My grandmother tried to get help to fight for her share, but in the end, she gave in. The hassle and heartache were just too much to bear. Unfortunate as it is, some people can be incredibly selfish.

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36. A Shocking Revelation

I learned that my dad received honor medals for bravely rescuing his fellow crew members when the USS Benevolence ship took a dip. I always knew my dad served in the Korean war, but it was something he seldom shared. It was at his funeral when I discovered the quality of his rank in the Navy. 

They played the Taps, performed a salute, and requested my mom to hand over his navy dress uniform. They returned his uniform, neatly cleaned and pressed, just the day before the ceremony. We were also given a flag to honor him, and they saluted my mom respectfully. 

There might have been more poignant moments, but the day was heartbreaking enough. Seeing so many naval officers there was a wakeup call. It felt like I was discovering a whole different side of my dad that I never understood.

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37. A Not-So-Holy Event

My aunt, a former nun, left the convent after getting exploited. Despite having no obvious income or job afterward, she somehow amassed around 300k by the time she passed. Mind you, this was the '80s, so that sum would be in the ballpark of 500 to 600k today. Quite a heap of cash, yet, due to an unexpected twist, we wouldn't receive a single cent.

My aunt intended to fund my brother's and my own college education. However, the Catholic Church unexpectedly intervened with some legal trickery, insisting the money belonged to them since she didn't formally exit the church—even though she hadn't been a part of it for nearly two decades. 

I ended up paying my own way through college. A round of applause for Jesus.

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38. Keeping It All Hidden

I discovered a surprising, softer side to my brusque, straightforward grandpa, who was once an OSS agent. Dad stumbled upon a large collection of dated photo albums detailing his and his siblings' youth and their everyday family happenings. These had my grandpa's unmistakable handwriting adding endearing comments to each picture. 

The images of Grandma, too, were all accompanied by incredibly affectionate captions.

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39. A Guardian Angel

In his lifetime, my uncle often came across as a silly joker. While he occasionally rubbed me the wrong way, there was an intelligent wisdom about him that made me pay attention when he spoke. His occupation as a truck driver ultimately took his life. 

After losing his closest sibling, my dad admitted that my uncle had been invisibly supporting us all along. Although he wasn't always physically present, my uncle was the main person my dad turned to for advice about me and my sister. 

Additionally, he massively helped our family financially and played a significant role in keeping my dad off substances for numerous years. He was the glue that kept our family from falling apart for such a prolonged period. The only image I had of him was as my fun-loving, quirky uncle. Now, I miss him deeply.

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40. Some Secrets Shouldn’t Be Kept Secret

One day, my grandpa believed he was experiencing a heart attack. But, since he's really old-fashioned, he chose to keep it to himself and tested his luck by sleeping it off, hopeful it would subside. The next morning, he woke up, still feeling the symptoms, and thought, "Yep, it's definitely a heart attack". 

But, instead of sharing this with anyone, he preferred to set out on his own to the hospital. That's commitment to secrecy.

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41. A Fulfilling Life

During the burial of my 92-year-old grandpa on my dad's side, there were four women spotted on a nearby bench, engaged in an animated conversation. They were not interacting with family members, but they were unmistakably present for the funeral. 

As it came to light, these women were all romantically linked to him—they were his mistresses and girlfriends. Interestingly, they were all aware of each other's existence and they seemed to get along just fine.

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42. A Tough Survivor

I always knew that my great-great-uncle Tom was a highly recognized WWII veteran, yet the exact details of his service remained a mystery to everyone. After his return home, he chose to remain silent about his time in the army. When he passed, we discovered his journals that contained detailed accounts of the dreadful experiences he had faced.

Uncle Tom served as a Gordon Highlander, frequently tasked with missions that would, unfortunately, leave him as the last man standing. His final mission involved capturing a hill occupied by German forces. He, along with his squad, valiantly battled for a whole week to gain control of the hill, eliminating any resistance on their path. 

After holding their position for another week, they were reassigned and replaced by the English Grenadier Guards. For his bravery and service with the Gordon Highlanders, he was awarded not one, but two Victoria Crosses.

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43. Living A Double Life

He held a high-ranking position as the executive vice president of sales at a property business, leading him to travel roughly half the month. He was a husband and a father living with his family in Florida. However, after his unfortunate demise, we discovered he had a second family in Texas. 

They weren't officially wed, yet he was a father to two additional children there. In the two-week period each month, when everyone assumed he was busy with work trips, he was actually living with them.

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44. A Twisted Family Tree

This is my mother-in-law's tale. Her dad migrated from Italy to my homeland in the 1930s. Initially, he had left his wife back home, with the hope of accumulating enough resources to bring her over. However, plans drifted, and he ended up marrying a local woman and fathering three children, my mother-in-law being one.

His life journey ended in the 1970s. Fast forward to the 1990s. A call comes in one day with the caller speaking in Italian. They introduce themselves as her cousins, having discovered her existence through some of our local folks traveling in Italy. 

Recieving the call comes as a surprise, but a pleasant one because she'd never had the chance to connect with anyone from her paternal lineage. They make arrangements to visit as soon as possible. Upon their visit, as the bonding and introductions are progressing, a startling revelation emerges. 

The "cousins" are not actually cousins, but her half-siblings. Apparently, the wife her father had left was later married to her grandfather, and they had children. Hence, these visitors were both her half-siblings and technically also her uncles and aunts.

This revelation was news to her, and her father had seemingly not known either—I can only envision the awkwardness it would've caused if disclosed while her dad was still around. Despite the shock, she holds no resentment. After all, she never met her grandfather, and now, she's excited to embrace these newfound family members across the sea. 

They still catch up regularly over calls.

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45. You Can’t Hide The Truth Forever

There's an interesting tale circulating in my stepmother's family, concerning her grandfather. Apparently, he unintentionally caused the death of his sister's husband by pushing him down a stairs, after discovering him hurting his sister. As per the family's story, he was then whisked away to Italy to lie low until the drama cooled down. 

Upon his return to the U.S, he resumed his normal life. However, a recent shocking revelation surfaced when a family member stumbled upon a 1922 newspaper clipping about the incident. Contrary to the family tale, the story told by the newspaper unveils a more gruesome reality. 

It turns out, my stepmother's grandfather had actually pierced the man straight in the heart during a heated argument, after he was released from a reformatory. It really casts some doubt on how effective these institutions were.

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46. A Christmas Miracle

Back when I was just five in 1988, I found a Nintendo on our doorstep, a gift supposedly from Santa Clause. It was neatly tucked inside some newspaper and added a layer of mystery since my parents hadn't an idea of who'd gifted us such a memorable present. 

My dad, especially, was quite curious about it and held a strong feeling that a close family friend might have done it. That Nintendo undoubtedly became our most treasured gift that year, and it accompanied us throughout our entire childhood, making countless fun memories.

In 2004, we sadly lost my dad. However, on the last Christmas, my mom unveiled a fascinating family secret. Turns out, she was the secret Santa behind that Nintendo! She had secretly purchased it knowing my dad, a bit of a control freak, wouldn't have approved of it. 

She knew it was something we’d love and enjoyed surprising us on that special Christmas day. And she managed to guard this secret for an entire 30-year span. Hats off to you, Mom.

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47. Home Away From Home

In 2003, my mom received an unexpected letter about a life insurance policy from a chaplain we didn't recognize. After a bit of investigating, my mom uncovered a shocking truth. This chaplain, it turned out, was her biological father—only his surname was completely different from ours. But the biggest surprise was still to come.

Apparently, this man was actually a Catholic priest, and he had served as a chaplain for many years. Yes, one of those who is meant to live a life of celibacy. So, in a surprising twist, we discovered that my grandparents had met during WWII and had consequently become parents to four children. 

After the WWII, however, he chose to relocate to the East Coast and live a separate life. Sadly, my grandmother passed a few years prior to this discovery, so we couldn't get all the details from her. Nevertheless, it's a bit mind-blowing to find out that there's a whole other family branching from ours that we previously had no idea about.

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48. A Secret Superhero

My uncle was once a prisoner in WWII, although he seldom shared details about it. Much of it remained a mystery, until his funeral, when a group of strangers arrived—about a dozen. Following the usual speeches about his warmth and wit, one amongst the unfamiliar faces took a stand and shared a story so poignant, we'll never forget it.

This story revealed how my uncle, a cook during his captivity, had saved her life in a concentration camp. He was not just any cook, but a very talented one, so much so that German officers would request his culinary services. He leveraged this unusual position to liberate a number of Jewish prisoners. 

When his cooking influence began to wane, he switched gears, teaching himself barbering. Once he mastered the skill, he continued the rescue mission, setting free more prisoners. All the strangers gave their accounts of this remarkable man, who saved their lives discretely from the shadows of the concentration camp. 

It was a revelation to all of us, including his wife. No one knew except for these survivors. The somber funeral transformed into a true celebration of a life lived with valor and kindness. What blew me away was the sheer number of lives he was responsible for. Countless people are alive today, living their lives, who might have never been born, if it wasn't for him.

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49. A Scandalous Past

A week before my younger sister got married, my dad asked me, both of my sisters and my mom, who's his ex-wife, to gather at his place. He said there was something "critical" he had to share with us. We all jumped to the conclusion that he had some life-threatening illness like cancer, which got us super worried. 

But when we all came together, he tearfully confessed that he had a five-year-old son who lives in the neighboring town. The downside to this news? The boy was conceived and born while my parents were still a couple. Dad said he wasn't sure if the boy was truly his until he recently got a DNA test done. 

He then showed us a snapshot of our half-sibling, who is a spitting image of him. My mom was shattered by the news, despite them being divorced already.

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50. A “Shameful” Family Secret

My great-grandma never seemed to like me for the craziest reason. You see, I was born out of wedlock, and my parents parted ways when I was three. When my dad's new girlfriend became pregnant, my great-grandmother threatened to cut him out of her life unless he married her.

My father, consequently, married my soon-to-be stepmom, who was a single parent. My great-grandma treated my step-brother and stepsister like gold, but me? Not so much. She made a point to avoid any relationship with me. At family Christmas gatherings, I'd return home in tears to my mum, puzzled why great-grandma gave me the cold shoulder. 

Throughout the entire four-day stays, she'd shower my brother and sister with affection (they had moved abroad at that point), completely sidestepping me. It wasn't until after her passing that I learned the extent of her disregard. I was the only grandchild left out of her will—omitted among about seven grandkids and a multitude of great-grandkids. 

My dad did share a portion of his own inheritance and some family treasures with me, as if to maintain the illusion that great-grandma didn't completely despise me into adulthood. Her dislike was so profound that I'm only now beginning to meet relatives that were unaware of my dad, siblings and grandmother were under strict orders not to even discuss me with others. 

So as far as a few who had briefly met me as a baby were concerned, I'd vanished. It's taken 36 years for me to stop being a hidden family secret. I was in the dark about all this till just a few years back. My stepsister revealed it; she knew, from our childhood, how much our great-grandma despised me, made evident through her harsh words behind my back. 

My grandmother's partner recently confirmed it, and it was my own mum who finally broke the news to me after the last Christmas we ever spent together. All of this hatred just because I was an "illegitimate child".

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Sources: Reddit, ,

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