Wild Family Secrets Exposed

January 24, 2024 | Luke Miles

Wild Family Secrets Exposed

From unknown oddities to shocking secrets, these family secrets prove that even our closest family members have something to hide.

1. Onion Bread Sticks

My folks often whipped up savory onion bread sticks for my beloved great-grandparents. If you're not too sure about it, it's bread sliced into long pieces, mixed with onion soup spread—which is simply onion soup mix and butter—slathered on top, and baked till crispy. But here’s where it all takes a surprising twist.

After both had moved on, we discovered an unexpected habit of my great-grandma's. She'd secretly save one breadstick from each batch they made and stash it in a Ziploc bag. She'd continue this until the bag was filled, and then she'd begin with a new one. This carried on for a whopping decade. 

Considering we dropped by about every two months, picture the sight of finding around 60 breadsticks in an array of ages and conditions.

Family SecretsFlickr, Nic McPhee

2. No Explanation

Just a year after my mom and dad split, my dad suddenly retired early, sold our home, and whisked away to Florida with grandma, leaving our Ohio roots behind. The whole thing felt rushed—he took the first offer on the house without a second thought. A year and a half later, he was gone. 

When we sorted through his things, we stumbled upon his medical records. That's when the truth hit us like a punch in the gut. Dad had pancreatic cancer. He made no attempt to get treatment and kept his diagnosis to himself. After finding out about the cancer, he simply retired, moved to the sunny state of Florida, and bided his time. 

Among his possessions, I also uncovered his military medals from the Marines, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. My father had been a textbook case of PTSD. In the years following his passing, grandma and I had a deeply personal conversation. She revealed that I hadn't truly known my dad—a part of him was always stuck back in Vietnam. 

In her words, he crossed the finish line of life as a broken, distraught man. He endured it alone, without letting those he loved know his time was running thin.

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3. A Bond Between Brothers

Around four decades ago, my father's youngest sibling was in a severe accident. He was driving a large truck through Alberta on a highway that was elevated above the surrounding terrain. His vehicle ended up split—the cab on one side of the road and the trailer on the other. They had to airlift him to the hospital, where he remained in a coma for several days.

Upon waking, he found he couldn't walk, but his memory was hazy and he kept attempting to stand from his wheelchair, resulting in several falls. It was a tough time. My father and their parents rushed from British Columbia to be by his side. He managed to pull through, although he sustained some minor brain damage. 

After that, he became a teacher, relocated to Japan, got married, and started a family. However, on New Year's Day, exactly seven years ago, he went out for a walk and he never returned. They discovered his lifeless body on a hiking trail. He had suffered an aneurysm.

Following his memorial service, my dad and I spent a long night chatting over a few drinks. When the accident was brought up, I shared my memory of first hearing about it. I was an inquisitive ten-year-old who noticed one of my uncle's pupils was larger than the other, so I'd asked him why. He explained the whole story over a scoop of ice cream.

So during that late-night chat, when my dad mentioned his brother's time in hospital, I relayed what I remembered hearing. I told my dad, "When he finally woke up from his coma, he felt dad's presence in the room, even though he was alone, and knew he'd been there for him". Hearing this, my dad broke down in tears. He had never known.

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4. Withdrawn Cousin

Contrary to what I believed, my cousin hadn’t entirely become introverted. It was only in the presence of family that he appeared withdrawn. I was completely unaware of what was happening behind the scenes.

His overbearing mother demanded he conceal his tattoos—a fact I only discovered when he was hospitalized—beneath long-sleeved outfits. Our equally overbearing grandfather had once reproached him for being too chatty and irritating as a child. Consequently, my cousin simply became quiet and seldom engaged during our family get-togethers.

However, when he was with his buddies, he was the same light-hearted, humourous person I used to admire in our childhood. It was heartbreaking to realize this.

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5. Surprising Ancestry

When my grandma on my dad's side passed, I discovered my true heritage. As my dad was sorting out the paperwork that naturally comes with losing a family member, he tried to rectify what he thought was his mother's incorrect maiden name. Yet, it turns out that the document he was looking at was accurate.

My grandma was born in Saskatchewan to Ukrainian immigrants, who were stigmatised in those times. At 16, she left home and rode a train all the way to Ontario. After arriving, she swapped her real maiden name for a more Anglicised one, got married to a nice Canadian guy and raised three children, all while never revealing her Ukrainian background.

It was one of my aunts who first noticed something unusual in her late teens when she stumbled across documents written in Cyrillic among my grandmother’s personal files. Requested by her mother to respect her secrets, my aunt remained silent about this until my grandmother's passing.

Growing up, a grandma is just a grandma. This revelation was a total shock to me. Now knowing that a quarter of my roots are so distinct from the rest of my heritage, which has been in Canada and the New World for ages, still blows my mind.

It's amusing to see the photos of her now. She was unmistakably Ukrainian-looking, and the resemblance between her, my dad, and now me is undeniable. Once, at a Ukrainian family's BBQ, an elderly lady grabbed my face, held it towards the crowd, and proclaimed "Western Ukraine! Western Ukraine!"

When she grabbed my date's face, she shouted, "Eastern Ukraine! Eastern Ukraine!" My date, who is of Irish-Italian heritage, doesn't have a speck of Ukrainian in her. Nonetheless, the lady was half-correct, which isn't too shabby!

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6. Doing His Best To Help

My granddad used to run a tiny bank in a rural Arkansas town. When he passed, mom went through his safety deposit box, and was astounded by what she discovered.

Inside, she discovered a secret ledger. It appeared that granddad had been lending money from his own pocket to customers whom the bank had turned down due to their background, employment, or race.

Most of his loans ranged from $200 to $500. He only charged a minimal interest rate, and interestingly, all the profit he generated from these loans, he gave straight to the church. Granny had no clue about it and was deeply touched when she found out. He passed in 1972.

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7. Practically A Saint

We discovered after my grandma's passing that she had been donating 10% of her earnings to support underprivileged children worldwide. For 40 continuous years of her life, this was something she quietly committed herself to. 

We stumbled upon letters where she gave these kids advice and maintained communication with them pretty much their entire lives. She even received photos of them growing and starting families of their own. In essence, grandma didn't just raise her five kids. 

She extended her maternal influence far beyond our family, indirectly mothering and grandparenting more kids than we ever realized, many of whom were orphans. During the months following her demise, we reached out to these individuals. 

Some were able to attend her funeral. Others journeyed to where we scattered her ashes and shared their photos from the visit. We always knew she was an angel to us, but we had no idea she played a similar role in the lives of hundreds of children over the course of four decades.

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8. He Wasn’t A Guy Everyone Loved

Everyone used to say what a great guy my great-grandfather on my dad's side was. But last year, my father finally unveiled his true colors.

He was a deceitful man who'd go to any lengths to help himself. It turned out he was a well-known scammer, often taking and selling things, and concocting massive lies just for small temporary advantages.

For example, he'd fake injuries at work for compensation. He'd ride public transportation without paying, and if he was asked for his ticket, he'd play the innocent victim, ranting about how offensive they were for accusing him of being a freeloader—even though he was one! He would even threaten to get them fired until they let him be.

Once, he took my father to a football game when he was a kid. Instead of buying tickets, he researched about one of the team's managers. Upon arrival, he claimed they were friends of the manager and that they were promised free tickets because my dad had a disability, which he didn't. But his wrongdoings didn't stop there.

He even sold his own wife's wedding ring at a pawn shop, shifting the blame onto my father. Talk about a heartless cheapskate.

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9. Not Entirely Hardened By Life

I tidied my godfather/uncle's flat because he never had kids. I felt it was my responsibility to clean it up. He was one of those guys toughened by life, but showed kindness to a select few family members. As for the rest of the world, he preferred they kept their distance. So, I come across his wallet and when I open it, I nearly break down in tears.

Inside are his ID, appointments card and other stuff, including a photo of me as a baby with him on my baptism day. Even 13 years later, that picture brings both joy and sorrow.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

10. Penny Pincher’s Scavenger Hunt

My great-grandpa was known for being frugal throughout his life. It was just his way to accompany my great-grandma shopping but he'd stay near the checkout, watching closely as the items were rung up to make sure every penny was accounted for. Strange, considering he came from a relatively affluent family.

We suspect his questionable trust in others shaped his approach to money management, not trusting anyone else with his hard-earned money. Interestingly, he was skeptical about banks too. He ran a strict checking account but shied away from keeping a savings account, perhaps out of fear of banks swindling his money.

After his passing, we found out he cleverly hid his wealth in several spots around the house. Hints to these secret stashes were tucked away in his daily journals; entries spanning nearly four decades. While my great-uncle and his family stumbled upon some of the hidden money, they had to resort to the journals to decode the rest of the locations. 

We hope they've managed to uncover it all, but can't be too sure. We only learnt about his deep-seated fear of having his money stolen after he was gone. An unexpected revelation, really.

Family SecretsFlickr, Hilde Skjølberg

11. Hidden Struggles

When my grandma passed, I discovered she had seasonal depression as I was sorting through her things. My mom confirmed this when I brought it up. She shared that on days with bad weather, my grandma would often start crying simply looking out the window.

It's heartbreaking to realize that my sweet, cheerful grandma had to battle with sadness. I miss her more than words can say.

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12. The Greatest Gift

Nearly four years ago, my dad passed unexpectedly from a heart attack. About a month later, I discovered a journal that he wrote for me when he learnt my mom was expecting. He named it "To my daughter," and what was inside devastated me.

He filled the pages with memories of the first time he felt my kick, the process of picking my name, what was happening in the world during that time, and his anticipation about becoming a father and getting to know me. It's the most precious gift I've ever received.

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13. Rockstar’s Unrequited Love

In 2006, when my aunt passed, I stumbled upon a letter from Kirk Hammett, the guitarist of Metallica. It wasn't a surprise as we knew they had been in some sort of relationship. My grandma once had this intricate crystal Japanese ornament (which she accidentally damaged) sitting on the mantel.

We managed to see Metallica live in 1997—I was only 12 then—complete with backstage access, which solidified our suspicions about their relationship. And from the letter, it appeared that Kirk was seriously smitten with my aunt. He would handwrite dates and telephone numbers for my aunt to reach him.

I'm not sure when the letter was written, but it was obviously before the era of mobile phones. The letter was filled with expressions of how fond he was of her. But unfortunately, my aunt didn't reciprocate those feelings.

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14. Sneaky Grandma

I used to ask for recipe copies of my favorite dishes, but whenever I cooked them myself, they never turned out quite right. I'd cook those dishes with her, and if I tried it alone later, it just didn't taste the same. 

Despite continuously hearing, "Don't worry, it just takes practice," I started believing I was really bad at cooking. That's what I thought for years, until I learned the truth.

After she passed recently, my dad and I were clearing out her house. That's when we discovered a hidden collection of secret recipes. To my surprise, all the "copied" recipes she had given me were intentionally wrong. Now, at the age of 43, I'm trying these secret recipes and guess what? 

I can actually recreate those dishes exactly how they're supposed to be. Just goes to show, it was never about my cooking skills, it was about having the right recipes.

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15. Secondary Button

After my cousin's motorcycle accident, his brother and I cleared out his apartment. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until I got to his computer to clear his browsing history, as a good friend should. I turned it on. It ran on a Linux OS and was encrypted. It asked me for a password and then suddenly, a loud bang went off.

The computer just switched off. Apparently, he had designed his computer to self-destruct. I had missed pressing some additional button that I didn't even know existed. The inside of the computer had a loaded pellet shell, aimed directly at destroying the hard drive if this button wasn't pressed. And that's exactly what happened—the hard drive was blown to bits.

To this day, I can't help but wonder why he had gone to such lengths to protect whatever was on that hard drive.

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16. Genius Electrical Engineering

The smoke alarm started making a sound. It's pretty vintage, like from the '80s era. I pry it open. There's no battery, just a bunch of cables running through the wall into the garage. I follow them into the garage.

They connect up to a recent kind of smoke alarm in the garage, with a 12-volt battery attached. He'd rigged the old smoke alarm's notification to the new one, so if there was a fire in the garage, he could hear it inside. My grandpa, he was a retired electrical engineer. 

When I saw what he'd done, I had to shake my head and said, "That kooky old engineer". Brilliant idea, sure, but just shows the luxury of a guy with too much free time on his hands.

Family SecretsFlickr, The EnergySmart Academy

17. Letting Her Shine

There are no shocking surprises or dark revelations here, only a heartwarming tale that portrays who my grandpa truly was. At his funeral, a close family friend decided to share a favorite memory of my grandfather. He told the time when a storm caused a power outage and they were forced to use candles for light.

Interestingly, my aunt as a child had gotten a candle-making kit as a gift and crafted numerous splendid candles she was eager to use. But given their home was an old, traditional, wooden farmhouse, my grandma didn't permit my aunt to light the candles, fearing a fire. 

However, one particular night during a storm, with the lights gone and no other alternatives, they had to utilize my aunt's candles. My aunt was so pleased with herself, sharing her accomplishment of 'saving the family' for weeks after.

The family friend glanced at her with tear-filled eyes and a broad grin. Then he revealed a surprising twist. He said, "This shows the type of man Bob was. He kept a secret until his last breath that he was the one who turned off the power that night; all so his daughter could have her moment lighting her candles".

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18. Devoted Caretaker

My dad used to tell a heartbreaking story. His mom had nine kids, and they had a nanny (since they lived in Asia back then, it was manageable). She cared for the children and remained with them even when my granddad briefly faced financial ruin, working for no pay but her meals and a place to stay, just to be near the kids.

When my dad's family chose to relocate overseas, she chose to stay as she was too aged to travel. As a gesture of appreciation, my granddad purchased a home for her in her hometown, and continued to support her financially each month, because she was practically family. She always sent small keepsakes for my dad and his siblings, even though they were all adults.

Despite their pleas for her to stop given the escalating cost of international postage, she continued to do it anyway. One day, the keepsakes stopped arriving, and soon they lost all contact with her. Worried, my dad and one of my uncles took a trip to her village to check up on her, only to find the worst case scenario.

She had passed. Having no family, she had left everything she owned to my dad and his siblings. Upon seeing her living conditions, they were mortified. She had been surviving in squalor, sleeping on the floor, using makeshift furniture, and lacking proper kitchen utensils. 

Among her possessions, they found a box filled with the photos of my dad and his siblings and most of the money my granddad had sent her. Recalling my granddad's financial collapse, she wanted to set aside savings to give to my dad and his siblings, should misfortune strike again. 

She chose to live extremely frugally, her only indulgence was sending those little mementos to my dad and his siblings.

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19. The Secret Recipe

Gosh, my grandma's renowned chicken stew was something else. She never shared the recipe, no matter what. When she was no longer with us, my granddad finally revealed it was just canned creamy chicken soup, a handful of vegetables, and chicken from KFC. I make it to this day, but there's no surprise why it had such a distinct flavor. It was KFC's chicken!

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

20. The Real Sources

My family once managed a highly successful corporation, but we had to close it around the time I was born due to my grandfather's tragic passing. For years, I believed our family wealth originated from this business, and that's what I told my pals. However, that wasn't really the case.

When I came of age and started to get a chunk of the family fortune, my mother lifted the veil on the real source of our wealth. The corporation, she explained, was not as profitable as our current wealth suggested. In fact, it turns out my grandfather had taken out about eight substantial life insurance policies just weeks before his unfortunate demise. 

Much of our wealth actually came from these policies after his passing, which was a revelation I wasn't ready for.

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21. Sweet Love Letter

Almost two years ago, my grandfather passed. He had been living with Parkinson's for 15 years, which caused other health problems. During the last few years of his life, his mental clarity was greatly affected. However, he had a moment of lucidity and decided to do something extraordinary.

He penned a lengthy note for my grandmother, a gathering of treasured memories from their life together. It covered everything from their wedding, buying a ranch, having children, and other remarkable times. It was incredibly touching and priceless. My grandma didn't receive it right away, she stumbled upon it several months after he was gone.

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22. Nutter Butter Cookies

Let me tell you about my grandma. She passed a few years back. Prior to her passing, my dad was in charge of managing all her medications and making sure she stayed on top of her pretty strict diet. When we were going through her house after she'd gone, we came upon nearly twelve boxes of Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies. 

Some were untouched, some were half-consumed, and they were tucked away just about everywhere —under cushions, under the bathroom sink, behind her chest of drawers, and so on. In a closet, we also stumbled upon a half-eaten loaf tucked away. 

Now, my grandma was one of those who had always done everything right. She never drank, she paid her bills on time, raised two sons, and never failed to have dinner ready by 5:30 sharp. Given that flawless record, I like to think of her cookie stash as her own little way of breaking the rules.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

23. Grandpa Thought Wrong

My granddad used to be a clergyman in a small South Carolina town way back in the 1950s. He usually preached at the predominantly white church, and once a month he'd also speak at the African American church to give their pastor a break. He grew close to one of the guys from that church over time, and eventually persuaded him to visit the white church. 

You see, Granddad had always found these people to be totally welcoming. He was convinced that their attitudes mirrored his own, believing everyone to be a child of God and welcomed in church, no matter their background. As it turns out, he was completely mistaken.

This poor man walks in, is sent to sit in the very last pew and is completely overlooked. They wouldn't even serve him communion. Frustrated, Granddad descended from the pulpit, snatched the communion from someone's grasp, and personally served his new friend. Then, he retook the stand and vociferously proclaimed that God's love doesn't discriminate, causing quite a scene.

Later that night, a burning cross was found on his front lawn. With young kids and a wife to look out for, he couldn't protest as intensely as he wished to. So, in a fortnight, he relocated to his birthplace in Texas, where his belief in equality was more widely accepted.

For reasons I can't fathom, nobody told me this story before Granddad passed. He truly embodied class from start to finish, epitomizing what every Christian should strive to be, and yet so seldom are.

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24. Unsent Letters

My grandparent had passed, and I was staying alone in their house before the funeral. I was searching for something to write with in the typical drawer where you'd find such things. In the process, I stumbled upon a deeply sincere letter addressed to a family member.

Compelled by what I found, I spent the whole night rummaging through the house for more letters. I suspect this was their form of therapy. I confided in two people and shared the letters that concerned them. We mutually agreed to discard some of these letters, making me the only individual privy to their contents. 

These letters were illuminating and filled in some gaps that I had no prior understanding of.

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25. More Accomplished Than Anyone Thought

Despite having multiple master's and bachelor's degrees, and a law degree to boot, my uncle spent a considerable amount of time living with grandma. His career path was somewhat unconventional: He worked part-time assisting the elderly. This led some of us to perceive him as a loner who hadn't accomplished much.

There was a period where he served as a consultant. But, the unexpected loss of his boyfriend sent him spiraling, and he slipped out of public view. It was then that he moved back in with his mom, where he stayed until his unexpected passing a few years ago. 

On a side note, my grandpa was actually the teacher of his second wife. They didn't strike up a romance until he was 50 and she was in her 30s.

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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 the age of 30, due to a brain aneurysm. We didn't find out about his condition by going through his stuff, but through a conversation. It was his mom, his best friend, and I chatting shortly after his sudden demise. The conversation somehow drifted to the topic of his birth mom since he was adopted. 

His adoptive mom mentioned that he never seemed inquisitive about his biological parents. That's when his best friend revealed that my husband had, in fact, inquired about his birth parents at the age of 19. He had reached out to the adoption agency to know more about his biological mom, but he only did a brief exploration and found that she had passed at 37. 

He never brought this up with anyone else except his best friend. He often said that he believed he'd be lucky to reach 30, attributing it to his poor lifestyle habits (lack of exercise, unhealthy eating, smoking—though we know his lifestyle had no direct connection with his untimely demise and he was not overweight or sick prior to his passing). 

We never understood why he had such a certain belief. But, it makes sense if he linked it to his birth mom's early passing.

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28. The Ways He Was A Victim

I recently discovered that my father, who has sadly just passed, was being harassed and pursued during his final days. He wasn't one to reach out for help, choosing instead to disregard the constant calls from an old flame to his office and the attempts from his current girlfriend to evict him. 

Somehow, he ended up at her place and it's still unclear how exactly he met his end. Before his passing, he was left virtually penniless.

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29.  Salad Fork Packets

My aunt was a kind, spiritual lady who mostly kept her own company. When she passed, we discovered two peculiar things among her belongings. She had bible verses jotted down on index cards all over the place. Even stranger, she often wrote the same verse repeatedly. She stashed these piles of cards all around her flat.

The second peculiar thing was her collection of McDonald’s salad fork packets. She filled about five drawers scattered around her flat with these McDonald's fork packs.

Family SecretsFlickr, Marco Verch

30. Quirky Job Title

I discovered today that when my dad first applied for his IT job that launched his career and ultimately led him to work for IBM, his resume actually listed "Pizza Pie Engineer" as his then-current role. Guess what? He got the job! This revelation really gave me a chuckle today. I will always miss him.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

31. Vintage Collection

As my dad and I sifted through my mom's personal items after she passed, we stumbled upon four old-fashioned hat boxes and three round cases. I instantly recognized those as Shriners fez cases, owing to the two I had gathered over the years. And true to my hunch, we found three ornate, jewel-studded fezzes inside.

The hat boxes held an assortment of diverse, vintage hats, some of which were stunning hats made entirely of feathers. What baffled us was that my dad and I weren't even aware she'd been collecting hats. I'm an eBay seller specializing in vintage goods and spoke to her nearly every day, but she never breathed a word about these hats.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

32. A Bit Of A Hypocrite

My grandpa was like a big kid himself, running our town's local toy shop. After Toys "R" Us pushed his business under, he started working as a mall Santa and selling his own handmade dolls and puppets on Etsy. That's why we were pretty shocked when we discovered a hidden manuscript amid a pile of rejection letters. 

Its title was Putting Away Childish Things. It was a hefty 300-page exploration of Corinthians, where he expressed disappointment about American men not willing to part ways with their LEGOs and mature.

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33. Sentimental Value

A couple of weeks ago, I was busy clearing out my dad's house. I mean, I did a full-on, end-to-end cleanup. I discovered all the bits and bobs he used for making Halloween costumes. Anything that still had some life in it, I set aside. I even stumbled upon a few of his old costumes! But, the real tearjerker was this box we spotted in the attic.

You see, my dad has never been much of a softie—he would toss stuff without a second thought. Yet amazingly, I found every single card I had ever given him tucked away in this box. Birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas cards, all of them.

Not just the cards, but he also saved all our concert ticket stubs, and even the old bus passes we relied on before he bought a car (some even had pictures of a toddler me on them). I know these mementos are the kind things parents typically squirrel away, but discovering that everything I'd given him meant so much that he held onto them for 18 years... it was simply heartwarming.

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34. The Things You Can Find

When my great-grandfather passed, we were tasked with clearing out the house he lived in for many years. I'm not sure if he moved in before or after his wife passed, but regardless, he held onto a lot of her belongings. Stuff like a set of heavy-duty, bright orange suitcases, and numerous intriguing vintage handbags.

One of the more peculiar items was an old hairdryer, made up of a plastic bag with an attached tube and air pump. I wouldn't dare to use it. There were also various other household items. Judging by the dates on some of the objects, most items in his house seemed to be around 25 to 30 years old at least.

From radios to record players, televisions to lava lamps, and numerous other items like lamps, vases, and plates. We decided to keep a good portion of it, thinking it would be a waste to just throw it all away.

Family SecretsFlickr, Marco Verch

35. A Simple Woman

I wouldn't say it's strange, but lately, I've been going through my grandma's stuff. She didn't own many material goods. Only the essentials really. What truly stunned me was simply the absence of stuff. However, one chest of drawers, packed with five drawers, was chock-full of newspaper clippings, photos, and keepsakes from her beloved ones.

There, I stumbled upon something quite touching—a little self-written bio. In the "hobbies" section, she wrote, "Family comes first". I truly believe no one else will ever show me the love she did, so I'm striving gradually to instill her values into my daily life. She was a rather simple lady, but her influence on me was deeply impactful.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

36. No Reason To Attend

My grandma used to live in Florida while I was in New Jersey. Right after she passed, I was discussing with my Mom whether I ought to fly down there for her burial. Mom said the choice was mine and that nobody would resent me if I chose not to attend. The reason? Grandma wasn't as wonderful as you might assume.

She abandoned my dad and her other seven kids, leaving my grandpa to juggle two jobs and single-handedly raise eight children for nearly 15 years. One day, she packed her bags and disappeared.

In the end, I didn't attend her funeral.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

37. Needing Glasses

My mom passed in 2006. I was 25 years old then and she was only 46. She never really liked admitting that she needed glasses, so she would just pick up reading glasses from the dollar shop. It was pretty common for her to perch them on her head when she wasn't using them, then she'd often forget they were there. 

At times, she'd even do this with two pairs, and then she'd start hunting for a third one. While we were tidying up her belongings, we discovered nearly 30 pairs of these reading glasses. We decided to set them up on the mantle as a tribute, right next to her most cherished photo of herself.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

38. Unnoticed Hobbies

Last month, my grandmother passed, and that same evening, all the family members who could make it came over to her condo to cook dinner together.

As I moved from one room to another in her house, I found myself noticing little details about her that I'd never seen before. I was struck by the sheer amount of embroidery work she had done. I saw multiple copies of the family crest of her late Irish husband, images of birds, and floral designs on cushions. 

I also found a complete table set, adorned with ten napkins and placemats, plus a tablecloth, all showcasing traditional Swedish embroidery—a nod to her family roots. Additionally, on her dresser, I came across a small box of seed pearls that served as a stand for her collection of perfume samples.

Family SecretsWikimedia Commons

39. Missed Connection

My stepmom passed last January. We lost touch around 15 years ago, following my dad's passing. I discovered she was in town and keeping up with mutual friends who could have connected her with me. She had the chance to reach out, but she didn't. Had I known she was nearby and in touch with our friends, I'd have definitely given her a call. It's quite a lost opportunity to reconnect.

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40. Never Being Hungry Again

The most fascinating thing we discovered about my grandma was that she'd obviously never let go of her experiences growing up during the Great Depression. Her fridge was crammed full of food. Frozen steaks in there had probably seen the Carter presidency. And there were stacks upon stacks of cereal boxes.

Her basement would give any fallout shelter a run for its money, with its old stone foundation and walls stacked high with canned goods; everything from tomatoes for homemade sauce to beans to pasta. She had scattered food all around the house.

Meanwhile, she didn't have many other possessions. She lived relatively minimally in terms of material belongings. Her furniture was old as the hills. Her toaster oven could only be tweaked with a pair of pliers. But she seemed fiercely determined to never face hunger again.

Family SecretsPicryl

41. Beautiful Graphite Sketches

After my dad passed, we discovered stacks of his sketchbooks buried in our basement. They were filled with stunning pencil drawings of animals and landscapes he'd encountered during his time in the forest (working at the lumber mill). My sister and I, both artists ourselves, had always wondered where our talent originated from until that moment.

The discovery was incredibly moving. I wished that I had known about his talent while he was still alive so we could have shared in it, but my dad was always a reserved and silent man.

Family SecretsFlickr, Arturo Espinosa

42. Mutual Appreciation

My beloved wife of 21 years has left us. While sorting through memories, I came across various well-wishing notes and cards that caught me off guard. I was taken aback to discover countless occasions where she had told her friends and others about her warm-hearted and loving husband—me. 

All these years, I was under the impression that I had scored way higher than I deserved when I married her. Imagine my surprise realizing she thought of me in the same high regard.

Family SecretsPexels

43. The Chestnut Tree

When I was younger, there was a gigantic chestnut tree next door. As a kid, I would gather chestnuts and "sell" them for a cent apiece. My grandma was my most loyal customer, although my mom also bought a couple of times. 

When my grandma passed, while going through her belongings, we stumbled upon two chestnuts wrapped in tissue paper inside her desk—two from the many chestnuts I had sold to her. I still have those precious chestnuts with me to this day.

Family SecretsPexels

44. Stock Markets And Ramblers

My grandpa was a wealthy guy and liked to dabble in stocks for his own enjoyment. We only figured this out when we stumbled upon paperwork for all sorts of stocks he owned, all shoved into an old, worn out briefcase in his attic. 

My dad, who's one of three siblings, had to cough up a lot for inheritance tax, but the money left over was still enough to buy a home outright! My grandpa was also big into hiking, but this only came to light when a crew of 30 hikers showed up at his funeral. Even at 89, he'd be out in his shorts, braving any weather to lead his hiking group. 

I just wish he had shared more bits of his exciting life with us before he left us.

Family SecretsFlickr, Glenn Nelson

45. Local Newspaper

My mom passed in a car crash when I was 15. Throughout her life, she put others first, never expecting anything in return. She had lost her job and undergone major surgery before she passed, so we were pretty strapped for cash. She passed in early November. A couple of weeks after we lost her, we got a call from our local newspaper.

Every year, they select families that they help during the holiday season (I honestly don't recall the exact type of help), and my mom had reached out to them before her accident. When they picked us and learned of her passing, they were even more eager to help. They wrote a lovely article about her in the paper.

What's always stayed with me is that even with all she was dealing with, her family was her main concern. I miss her every single day.

Family SecretsPexels

46. Musical Instruments

While sorting through my grandpa's possessions in 2010, we found out that he had a keen interest in learning various musical instruments. He owned a few classy guitars, an electric piano from the 80s that likely cost him a pretty penny, and a trumpet. He even had a collection of tutorial books for each instrument.

When we asked grandma about it, she shared that he did give it a shot but would often become frustrated and store them away for extended periods.

Family SecretsPexels

47. Making His Last Days Count

After my great-grandpa passed, we stumbled upon his credit card bills. Despite his humble lifestyle, living in a modest bungalow with just a cat and an old TV, the statements stumped us. We even had a laugh, suggesting we should search for an 80-year-old lady draped in diamonds and furs. Then we discovered a note.

It turns out, when diagnosed with his terminal illness, he applied for credit cards from every bank possible and started splurging, as per a shaky old man's definition of splurging. He treated the entire senior citizen group to a seaside vacation, opting for a posh hotel over the usual budget B&B they had to penny-pinch for. 

He purchased odds and ends for family members; his generosity was kept on the down-low, so it was news to everyone that he invested in three washers within a week. He even began sipping on the high-quality beverages. 

Considering his materialistic possessions were next to nil—rented house, makeshift furniture—the legacy he left behind was purely sentimental and not monetarily valuable. After ensuring his daughters wouldn't be responsible for his debts, he decided to have a jolly good time.

Of course, his plan would have been a disaster if he'd survived beyond his forecasted time. It was a bit offbeat, somewhat mischievous, yet during his last six months, he sparked joy and left the world sporting a smile.

Family SecretsPexels

48. The Weirdest Apartment

It's my time to stand out. Let me share some bizarre things I've unearthed in my mom's house till now. First off, neatly folded sheets stained with dried blood in the bathrooms. We had to purify the cupboards with bleach afterward. But that wasn't the worst part.

We also found her ex-boyfriend's teeth, not in the usual dental case, but stashed in a jewelry box. We came across documents she had sent her attorney during the custody battle with my dad nearly 20 years ago.

The second document was filled with reasons why I was supposed to stay with her. At the top of this list was, "Daughters need to live with their mothers exclusively". So far, we've found eight thousand photos. Nothing of significant value. My mom was fond of disposable cameras and would preserve all snaps from each camera.

Family SecretsPexels

49. Holding A Grudge

When my aunt passed, we discovered numerous little notes, haphazardly stashed throughout the house. They were lists of perceived slights and wrongdoings by people, for things as petty as "incorrect yard cleaning" to "buying incorrect groceries," even stretching to "being envious of my life" or "resenting my family's superiority".

The note about my mom was especially harsh, which was absolutely crushing. They were inseparable for most of their lives, until my aunt's unhealthy habits transformed her. She left this world as a resentful, spiteful person, surrounded by those who cherished her past self, yet were repelled by the person she had turned into.

Family SecretsPexels

50. He Liked Digging

We stumbled upon three bonus rooms. Seemingly, my uncle enjoyed tunneling underneath his house, creating a vast subterranean space. It boasted 10-foot high ceilings strengthened with steel beams, walls crafted from painted cinder blocks, and excessively robust steel doors in every room.

It appeared that he was keen on ensuring the house would never collapse into his vast excavation. He even installed drains at the center of each room, probably to prevent flood damage. It was shocking, since from the outside, it was just another home in a regular neighborhood, with an unlikely secret beneath.

It seemed possible that he'd lived exclusively in this underground nook for a considerable stretch of time; the evidence was in the ample handmade wicker furniture and creepy clay sculptures...

Family SecretsFlickr, denisbin

Sources:  Reddit

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