No family is perfect, and most are harboring their fair share of mysteries and buried truths. Some of these secrets are pretty harmless, while others are dark as night. So dark, in fact, that you might wonder if they should’ve just stayed buried, never seeing the light of day. Sometimes rigorous research is required to unearth these bombshells, and sometimes all it takes is a particularly loose-lipped relative letting something slip after one too many glasses of wine.
But those strange family truths usually comes out in some form or another, and these Redditors were there to witness them. Here are some of the darkest, strangest and most scandalous family secrets you’re ever likely to hear.
1. Nothing Like a Morning Cleanse
My mom throws water on our first day of school. Like, we would walk through the door on the first day of school, and she would throw water from a cup into the lawn. She’s Yugoslavian, and it’s apparently a tradition from her youth. It supposedly symbolizes “cleansing you from your past.” I thought it was normal until my older brother pointed out when he graduated high school that no one else does this.
I wrote that she still does this because I’m in grad school. I don’t live with my parents, but my mom apparently still does it at the beginning of September even if I’m not there. I love my mom.
2. A Contract With Questionable Mens Rea
My grandfather had my grandma change her will to cut out my mom 2 years after my grandma had developed full blown dementia.
3. A Warm Welcome Anywhere
Toilet cozies (basically, clothing for your toilet.) I grew up with them and had to change the toilet every time I cleaned our hall bathroom. In college, I was shopping with a friend about to buy my own toilet cozies, when my friend said, “Ew! WHY would you put that on your toilet? Won’t it just collect germs and bacteria?!”
I thought about it for a moment and was genuinely mortified.
4. It Ain’t Easy Being Green
Every New Year, my dad buys a cabbage. It’s sort of like a this ‘good luck’ ritual for him to dance around the house with it and peel pieces off and place them on things for good luck. We’d all take turns dancing with it. I remember talking to a friend in elementary school about dancing with the cabbage for New Year’s and them thinking it was extremely odd.
5. Gone Fishing
My sister married a Norwegian man and moved to Oslo. We visited her last year. During the stay, her husband’s family threw a birthday party for him. They tied a string to the presents and hid them under the bed. The end of the string was tied to his foot. He had to sit on the bed and kick his foot while everyone chanted “fish!”
Clearly, we were lost, and my sister explained it’s a Norwegian custom. Her mother-in-law laughed and said in English for our benefit “No it’s not! We’re just a strange family!” My sister was shocked. “Are you kidding me?! We’ve done this for every birthday since I’ve been here!” Sometimes people are just crazy.
6. Run for Fun
Every day when we came home from school, my sister and I had to run a lap around our neighborhood. I had no idea other kids never did this and it exclusively was used to get my sister and me to burn energy, so my mom didn’t have to play with us as much outside.
7. He Sounds Stable…
My father, who didn’t want me and tried to get my mom to get an abortion, used to kidnap me and try to leave the state with me while also trying to brainwash me into loving him. He never paid his child support, but when he did he’d come “pick me up for the weekend” and would drive as fast and as far as he could until my stepmother would catch on and stop him.
The entire trip out he’d tell me about how my mother has never loved me, no one has, no one will and that everyone in the family tries really hard to forget me and the horrible shame I brought for being illegitimate. We’re a strange family.
He would tell me all about how my mom was a 40-year-old virgin who was terrible in bed, how she should be lucky he allowed her to have his child, how I should be so lucky that I look like him and not like a dirty beaner like my mom (which never made sense to me, she’s Native American not Mexican and he knew that so I never understood the racist comments because I didn’t know what a beaner was at the time).
He’d also scream about how much he hated me and wished he could take my birth back but then he’d turn around and say I was the love of his life and that no one will ever love me as much as he does because he’s my dad so I have to love him. Found out many years later that it was the heroin and meth talking. For many reasons, I never told my mom about these trips and she never found out.
8. Hold on, You Can’t Be Serious…
One of my younger brothers is currently dating our oldest brother’s wife. They were having sex in secret for three years before anyone figured it out.
My grandmother had 5 sisters. They were all super close. One of them got cancer (this was in the 1960s) and they all decided not to tell the daughter (who was 12 at the time) of the sick one that her mother was dying because her father had just died a couple months prior. So the daughter just woke up one day and the mother had died.
I mean it’s not completely messed up but it was a bad decision I feel.
10. A Kiss Called Wanda
My grandfather is part-Canadian and when we visit relatives in Nova Scotia, they make us kiss a trout.
11. Gobble Gobble at Four Angles
The Thanksgiving Turkey Box. We kids would decorate a big cardboard box, and my mom or grandmother—or the Great Turkey, for all I know—filled it up with little treats for the family. After dinner, everyone got their Thanksgiving gift. Usually, the kids got their chocolate advent calendar and a coloring book or something similar, adults got chocolates or a knick-knack. Never met another Turkey Box family. Truly strange
12. How the Mighty Have Fallen
I have no aunts or uncles anymore because of meth. It’s literally ruined my entire extended family who were mostly successful medical or education professionals. All I have is my immediate family. My aunt didn’t remember which of my 3 brothers I am.
Meth is terrible, kids.
13. Stealing Is Stealing
My uncles came by the house after my father died, got my mother (their sister) drunk, and then took a lot of my father’s things with her drunken permission. Things that were meant for my brother and me.
Those crooks. I never speak to them anymore for that reason.
14. What Goes Around Comes Around
Well, I have an uncle who always beat his wife, so on one occasion she got into her car and ran him over multiple times. Broken leg, foot, ribs, collar bone, etc. He ended up staying at my dad’s house for something like 9 months while he recovered. They got back together. He told her, “well ya finally got me back ya b****”.
15. Grandpa Drops a Bombshell
My dad was an only child whose own father went away to war when he was 3 and didn’t return ‘till he was 9. My dad was a painfully lonely child, neglected by his mom and raised by his grandfather. When he married my mom he suddenly had five brothers-in-law, two parents-in-law who cared about him, and dozens of aunts/uncles/cousins by marriage. He absolutely reveled in being accepted into my mom’s big, strange family, but he always regretted never having a brother or sister.
Then one day I was talking to my dad’s father—I think we were actually just talking about the weather when my grandpa looked away from me and started to tremble a bit. I asked him if he was okay and he very quietly said “your dad has a sister in France” and then he got up and walked away. We never spoke about it after, and to this day my dad (80 years old now) has no idea that he has a sister.
16. Cray Cray
My nan was born in East London in around the 1920s, her mother married a man with the surname ‘Cray’ and had her older sister before eventually re-marrying and having my Nan. My great-grandmother kept the girls’ names the same, as it wasn’t the ‘done thing’ to remarry and change names back then.
We would sometimes ask my Nan about the name and its ties to the famous gangsters and she would always say quite abruptly “No no, it’s spelled with a C, not a K.” Strange, as I always thought as my Nan was quite the gossip and this was very unlike her not to elaborate.
About ten years ago my dad found her birth certificate in the loft with the spelling of “Kray.” The only other thing we know about her stepfather is he was run down by a taxi in New York.
I’d love to find out more information about this as it all seems very odd. A strange family secret that my nan seems to have kept even from her own family.
17. Violence Is Not the Answer
My cousin tried choking me to death when I was like 6, he also loosened the bolts and put me in the coffee table, told me to lay under it, and hit it so it fell on me… Killed the nerves in my two front teeth and had to get them pulled out. But now that fat jerk can’t walk and has to wear diapers while spiraling into depression, so it all turned out well in the end.
18. Restraint Takes a Lot of Effort
My one uncle molested his two sons, and my aunt (my mom’s sister) stayed with him. She let her kids go live with my mom’s younger brother and his wife, who were already raising her daughter since her husband had kicked her out when she was 10.
My entire family has wished for years they could kill him. Became very hard not to when my grandma passed away and he and my aunt came around.
19. All the Better to Fall Asleep In
On Christmas Eve, the Sandman brings us new pajamas. When we go to bed, there is a wrapped package on our bed containing pajamas, a robe, or slippers. On Christmas morning, everyone is wearing their new pajamas.
20. Alternative Hymns
We listen to “Damn It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta” by Geto Boys on Thanksgiving instead of saying grace. My dad likes it, I have no idea when this tradition started.
21. Make That Duolingo Count
We sing happy birthday in Polish.
We do not speak Polish.
22. Taking the Phrase “Cool Cat” a Little Too Literally…
My sister who ran away from home once put my cat in the refrigerator when she was in high school. What kind of a psycho does that?
23. A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Not a family member, but my sister’s ex-fiancé really charmed everyone in the beginning. We thought he was the sweetest southern gentleman you’ve ever met…
Fast forward a year later, he got my sister into drugs. They lost all their money and moved in with my mom. He would abuse my sister and my mom. My mom wasn’t really a hoarder, but she had a lot of things in her home. This man was a neat freak.
So while my mom would be at work, he would “clean” out the house by throwing her belongings into the trash can outside and setting it on fire. These belongings included my late father’s things that were sentimental, like his clothes. Also any and all picture albums of our family growing up. He threw away and burned everything. I have no pictures of my dad or myself from when I was younger anymore.
We had two dogs, one was a German Shepherd from when my dad was alive and one chihuahua we adopted. He took the chihuahua and threw her out the window on the side of the road. He let the Shepherd loose out of the house and called animal control about a stray dog. I think that hurt the worst because we had those dogs for years. My mom loved him in the beginning so she gave him my father’s wedding ring because they were going to marry, he pawned that for money. He also sold my laptop for drugs.
I blamed my sister for everything for a long time. I let her borrow rent money once, but little did I know that she was going to use that for drugs. She ended up leaving him, but they do have a beautiful child together. That’s the only good thing about the whole situation. He is and always will be a monster.
24. Different Country, Same Scummy Brothers
My dad bought his two brothers a house in India to live in. Both have two kids so it’s a pretty big family so a pretty big house. All he asked for return was to leave one of the rooms open for us so that when we go to visit, we have a room to call our own.
Less than two months after buying them this house, they tore down the room and both took parts of it to remodel and make it into their own. When my dad went to visit a year later, they wouldn’t let him into the house and tried to give him $50 to go stay in a hotel.
25. Open Season on Elderly Grandparents
One of my cousins stole my grandma’s jewelry and sold it for drug money. They also collectively stole my great uncle’s pension checks and gave him nothing. They put him in a small room in the attic even though he begged them for a bottom floor room because it was so hard for him to walk.
Another one stole a visitor’s wallet and threw it onto the neighbor’s yard (in India most houses have roofs that are open and connected). Cops were called, it was a huge thing but in the end nothing could be proved.
26. Art in Life, Life in Art
Every Groundhog Day, we go and get small gifts for each other for a dollar or less. Then we eat flapjacks and watch Groundhog Day.
For as long as I can remember my mom has buttered my nose on my birthday. I have no idea where this tradition originated. She’s also been so kind as to carry this over to my significant others. I’ve gotten wise to her and the sneaky way she tries to carry butter in her hand without me noticing, but then she gets me tipsy and I let my guard down and BAM! Butter nose.
Basically, my mom is a huge dork.
28. Always Aim Higher
We would jump at midnight on New Year’s to get taller. The irony being I am a 5’6” tall (on a good day) guy, my mom is a 4’10” tall woman, dad and brother are 5’8” and 5’9” tall or so. Clearly, this tradition does not work.
29. Don’t Hop on Pop
My Dad is narcoleptic. Every year when he inevitably passes out at the table during Thanksgiving dinner my sisters & I play our favorite game, called “What can we balance on Dad’s head?”
So far, our most impressive item is a coffee mug. I’m fairly proud of that one.
30. Stooping to New Lows
We have a really strange family dynamic.
One of my uncle’s sons basically stole a store from his cousin. The cousin’s family owned this small novelty shop, the son worked there for a long time. The family that owned it went away for vacation for a week and when they returned all the locks were changed. Cops came and couldn’t do anything because the paperwork for the shops was misfiled originally and the family didn’t technically own the deed.
They couldn’t afford a lawyer to fight the case. My immediate family hasn’t talked to these individuals and their families in a few years. I went to India a month ago and heard of all these stories from other family members. There is also a pending case where my dad owns a plot in India that we think the brother’s family is using to do some messed up stuff.
My dad hasn’t been to India in seven years because he’s just so sad to visit because of this drama. The funny thing is that my dad would have done anything for them if they didn’t screw around and steal so much. They both would have been so much better off if they weren’t such scum.
31. We’ll Have to Exchange Recipes Some Time
My sisters used to pretend to put me in the oven. Apparently (I was only about 3 at the time, I don’t remember) they put me in a wok and seasoned me.
32. What Are You Guys Thinking??
My parents would tell me the death of any old random from their pub asking if I remembered them (probably interacted with them once as a young kid), but didn’t bother to tell me about the death of my nephew’s dad. People are weird.
33. Grandma the Bootlegger
When I was growing up, I always heard stories about my dad as a kid hanging out in his mom’s tavern. The first time we visited his home town, he showed us his house, which is on a crossroads and split-level: front door goes to the top floor, “basement” (or lower floor) opens out the back, which then has a small road and parking area to the tavern.
It wasn’t until many years later that it dawned on me that my dad grew up during Prohibition and my grandma was a bootlegger. Mom has forbidden me from digging into it any further.
34. Fooling Nobody
My sister pretended to be me when she got arrested. Joke’s on her, she paid the fine and when it was discovered that they didn’t follow proper procedure, they refunded the fine to me! Karma…
35. Brother’s Keeper
I have an uncle who got a girl pregnant and then ended up in jail. While he was in jail, his brother (my other uncle) ended up marrying the girl and raising the child as his own. Now my first uncle is out of jail, and has to deal with the fact that his child is being raised by his brother. It’s awwwk-ward.
36. Fatherly Reappearance
My Bio dad showed up last summer. 27 years of never having contact with me, and he comes out of nowhere. Turned out he just wanted me as a bone marrow/kidney donor for his other son. I agreed to be checked if I was match. I’m not going to blame the 10-year-old kid for his father being a competitor for biggest jerk, but my family and I don’t talk about it. I went behind my mother’s back to talk him in the first place after he showed up.
37. My Sister, the Thief
That time my sister stole thousands of dollars from my father’s business while working there.
38. Alcoholism in the Family
A lot of people in my family are alcoholics. It’s okay to acknowledge that they drink a lot, but it’s not okay to call them alcoholics, even when they do things like routinely pass out on their front lawn, get a huge number of DUIs, drink so much Labatt that the company sends them a flag and a lawn chair, get fired from Fabricland for drunkenly screaming at customers then barfing on a quilt, or get pulled over on a motorized beer cooler by the RCMP. All those incidents can be discussed so long as no one mentions alcoholism.
39. Mom’s Nudes
It was Thanksgiving. My parents had recently returned from Hawaii. My dad wanted to show everyone the photos. He connected the digital camera to the giant flat screen TV and started up a slide show. Of my mother. Naked. In their bedroom. He scrolled through several and then quickly turned it off and said “whoops. Wrong cartridge!”
I was 21, and my boyfriend was with me for the holidays for the first time. My mom started crying. My boyfriend went silent. I just said “oh my god!” Somehow my 100 year old grandma missed the whole thing. We never speak of it. If it is brought up, my mother will yell “WE SWORE TO NEVER MENTION THAT!” And get red faced.
Hey y’all, my mom would be mortified that I told the internet. Let’s all agree to never mention it to her!
40. Underestimating Family Awareness
I thought it was that my aunt was hardcore into substance abuse. Turns out nobody knew. To be fair, I didn’t “know” per-se, but it was so obvious that I thought everybody knew but didn’t mention it. My family was blown away when she got busted going to Florida to buy pills so she could resell them here. I was like, “yeah, duh.”
41. Pro-Choice in Practice
That super pro-life cousins and aunt ran to get an abortion for my 16-year-old cousin when she got pregnant.
42. Do Not Mention the Parrot
The parrot from Hawaii. When I was in kindergarten, my family took a trip to Honolulu. While there, a man on the street asked if we wanted photos with his parrots. My sisters and I were jazzed up about it, so my parents said ok.
The man had each of us holding a parrot, or a parrot sitting on our shoulder as my mom snaps some pics. Then the man asked my dad to kiss the parrot. My dad was not about this. He was not going to kiss the parrot, but to make my family happy and to get away from parrot-man, he did. And that’s when the parrot chomped his lip. Blood and everything.
To this day, over 10 years later, mention of the parrot will incite a 20-minute rant from my dad regarding parrot negligence, and then he gets so mad he has to go fix something in the garage. Do not. Bring up. The parrot.
43. Substituting Words for Suicide
The numerous suicides. It’s FINALLY getting to the point where they admit that these people even existed, let alone died. One of my great uncles killed himself before I was born, and if not for all the group photos and my great aunt being a decent human, I wouldn’t have ever known his name. My mom likes to pretend they died in “car accidents” or “heart attacks.” It made for some real confusion once I got older.
44. That Time in the Park
My wedding day. It was a 6-month marriage to an emotionally abusive woman that ended with infidelity, depression, and homelessness. I’m totally fine now, but I don’t ever mention it. So no one else does. My grandpa has brought the wedding up a couple of times for necessary reasons, but refers to it as, “that time we met you in the park.”
45. Dad’s History
That our father lied to our family about everything: where he grew up, lived, military background, other family, jobs. We found out after he died and never spoke of it again. It’s been 10 years since he died.
46. Alzheimer Difficulties
My grandfather remarried a woman who almost immediately developed Alzheimer’s and forgot who he is. He is now dating his first wife, while his actual wife is confused who anyone is. He refuses to divorce because the terrible family of his second wife bailed when they saw how expensive she was going to be, and my family had to get her care because she was too much for my grandfather to take care of (he is almost 90). I called out the relevant members of her family for bailing and was told I was being rude, which might be true, but I’m also darn right.
47. Doing the Right Thing
That my grandfather (on my dad’s side) was the only one to accept my oldest brother when he came into the picture. My dad married my mom when my brother was 3, long before I came along, and everyone looked at him like a nobody and told my dad that my mother was a loose woman.
48. Ignoring the Eating Disorder
My sister’s eating disorder. She eats a ton and goes on to vomit. She goes jogging for one hour or more per day (every day, no breaks even though her knees hurt like crazy) and refuses to eat any carbs, fruits and vegetables only. I seem to be the only one who realizes the magnitude of this. I seem to be the only one who thinks of this as a sickness, not as a “temporary phase.”
It’s been like this for 3 years already, and I have no idea when my parents noticed. Whenever I say something I get “shushed” at and later have to justify my “insensitive behavior” in front of my parents. So I just kind of gave up on arguing. Not sure what I can do to change things without disrupting the family.
49. Dodging a Bullet
My dad selling off his Enron stock before the scandal broke and the company collapsed. He got sick of everyone saying, “Looks like you dodged a bullet there,” so now we all just keep our mouths shut about his good timing.
50. Ignoring the Divorce for the Sake of the Relationship
A slightly happier story than most here: a few years ago, my sister and I reconnected after not seeing each other for 10+ years. The split was due to our parents’ divorce being an absolute disaster. Neither of us has any desire to reboot what wasn’t our fight to begin with, so we just don’t bring it up.
51. Merry Christmas
One of many is Christmas two years ago when my brother cried in front of us for the first time in his adult life, and then my dad started yelling at him over politics and my sister and I hid in the bathroom because we started crying too. When I came out, my dad started yelling at me, saying I had no heart. Then we had to open presents.
My grandfather had 4 different families at the same time. Eventually, they found about each other and they left him. Except for my grandmother, she stayed. He has a total of 22 children.
53. Wanted Man
My mom’s cousin’s husband (I forget the term for this) has twice been on the FBI’s top ten most wanted list.
54. Cowardice Was Key
My great-great-great something was on a raid killing Natives back around the whole Western expansion business and had his horse shot out from under him. He slit its belly open, gutted it, and hid inside until the rest of his party was killed and he was left alone. If my ancestors weren’t such cowards, I wouldn’t exist.
55. I Challenge You To A Duel
I found out that one of my ancestors was exiled from Russia for challenging an army officer to a duel (with swords) and winning. My ancestor worked in the czar’s stable, and the argument arose when the army officer insisted on riding my ancestor’s horse. The horse threw him off and the army officer shot it.
We’ve always been horse people.
56. The Hidden Kin
Found out through an angry vent given by my mother, that most of my cousins aren’t legitimate, and most of my aunts had lied to their husbands about the true father of their children. Also found out that there was a very large niche of the family I had never met and that no one really admits to—because they’re all inbred.
57. Violent Ends
My cousin is very serious about his genealogy hobby. He finds relatives we didn’t know existed and jets out to meet them, exchanging stories, tintypes, and the like. Back in 2007 he was visiting such relatives in Iowa and discovered that our ancestor committed suicide by cutting his throat with a pocket-knife while on board a U.P. Train, about six miles west of Kearney, Nebraska.
I have a transcribed account of the December 1881 newspaper story, which was unnervingly detailed. The headline reads, “THE SAD ENDING OF JIM HARRIS.” It is a very spooky, interesting read.
58. A Little Too Close To Home
We had a family Christmas dinner a few years ago where my aunt and uncles from both sides were staying over at our house. There were probably 10 or 11 of us at the dinner table, and everyone is getting along well like we always do. My cousin, around 14 or 15 at the time, brings up something about how he laid a massive poop earlier that day.
The kids laugh and the adults were like “That’s not table conversation.” Then I jump in and say “Haha, yeah, there are things we don’t talk at the dinner table, like politics and illegitimate children.” Every adult at the table drops their eyes to their plate and goes silent. I’m sitting there like “uhhhh,” what in the Woody Allen movie is so awkward about all this.
What I didn’t know is that my uncle had an illegitimate child many years ago and that’s always been a point of contention between my aunt and him. They also had been arguing about that earlier in the day, and all the adults knew it. Haha man, it was a joke. But seriously though, never make jokes about illegitimate children unless you are absolutely sure no one has one.
59. Drinking Discreetly
My grandmother just confessed to me last week that she was a borderline alcoholic and at age 50 started going to AA by herself—at the synagogue so she wouldn’t run into her Catholic friends—and quit drinking then. No one even noticed because she had hidden her drinking so well from her husband and five children. She didn’t tell her husband for almost 30 years and he was shocked. My mom, dad, and brother all don’t know yet.
60. Funny Stuff
Great grandma had an affair with a clown. An actual clown. And there was some question as to whether my grandpa was the son of said clown.
61. Grandpa Was A Bootlegger
My grandfather and his brothers were arrested during Prohibition for making and distributing bootleg alcohol as part of a major underground project. I discovered this while doing a school project at the library in high school which gave me access to old newspaper archives. I obviously searched for my last name. The first hit matched my grandfather and his siblings.
62. Grandma’s Ganja Operation
My grandma runs a marijuana ring in her small town. She’s about 75 and lives in the rural US. She doesn’t need to deal with cartels or anything because she grows it all on her own on her property. As far as I know, there aren’t any rival organizations in town.
63. Unholy Destruction
My ancestors were kicked out of a town in Kentucky for blowing up a church because they had a distillery underneath it.
64. Delayed Consequences
My grandfather died in the ‘70s of cancer but no one ever told me anything about him. Anyway, I was interested one day so I looked up him up and it turned out he was in the army—the British commandos, to be exact (he was Welsh). I did a bit more digging to see if any of his squad was alive, but I turned out every single one was dead, mostly of cancer. Eventually I decided to confront my gran and sure enough, there were the photos of him in a specific Japanese city after the atom hit.
65. Great Grandpa Got Around
My great-grandpa left China for Hawaii and made his money smuggling heroin and delivering it via air drop into the ocean. He managed to start two families here without either knowing about the other.
66. Well That Escalated Quickly
I found out my “uncle” is actually my cousin. My aunt got pregnant at 15 so my grandma raised him as her own.
Also, the more extreme one. Apparently, my great great (lots more greats) uncle was captured by Native Americans. So in order to escape, he managed to get his hands on one of their babies and threw it in a fire as a distraction.
67. The Rotten Branches Of The Family Tree
My granddad made hundreds of millions through his business and investments by the time he died. Most of it though only happened a few years before he passed. He never got on well with the rest of the family apart from my parents.
As a result, he left everything to charity in his will. Of course, the family weren’t happy about this and wanted to get rich from his hard work, so they lawyered up and fought for years to get the money. Unfortunately, they eventually won—not all of it, but most—taking millions from needy charities and spending it on houses, cars, holidays and gambling. Lots and lots of gambling.
Needless to say, we don’t talk to that part of the family.
68. Granddad’s License To Kill
Granddad was a professional murderer for the Brits. It got my family out of the old country after WWII, but it estranged our branch from the whole family for 80 years and counting.
He turned out really awful—abusive, drunk, and a terrible father. But he is the reason we live in here now, and didn’t spend three generations under the Soviets. He died the same month I was born, so I never met him, but I’ve spent five years compiling family stories and writing a book about our weird folks.
69. Still In The Picture
One of my cousins up and left after he stole a lot of money from the safe at the family business.
Only my grandmother and I know that he moved to the UK, where he works as a mechanic or something. How he moved there we don’t know, but he regularly calls my grandmother to talk to her. Even sent some money back.
70. Hoffa Was Here
My grandpa was a big dude. Roughly 6’6″ tall and 300lbs. He was a very close friend, confidant, and bodyguard for Jimmy Hoffa. For many reasons, my grandma finally was able to convince—read: force—my grandpa to leave the Teamsters, the lifestyle, and move to northern Michigan.
It’s not really a secret at all in my family but rather something that no one really talks about. Everyone knows Grandpa was very close to Hoffa, there just isn’t a lot of details.
71. Roast In Every Sense of the Word
We have a family roast every Sunday, but it is much more than just the food we eat. Generally, it ends up much like a celebrity roast where one member of the family gets ridiculed and has hilarious (embellished) stories told about them for then hour while everyone else laughs.
It’s always in good humor and my mum is usually on the receiving end every second week, but when I can’t go, the week feels like it’s missing something without the joyous 6 PM Sunday banter.
72. The Sacrificial (and High-Fat) Lamb
For Easter dinner, my aunt and uncle would always buy a stick of butter molded into the shape of a lamb. Before we ate, it was my job to chop its head off.
73. The Family Coat of Arms
My husband’s family exchanges weapons every year for Christmas. Knives, swords, guns: if it’s deadly, it’ll end up as a gift.
My first Christmas with them, I was terrified. I’d only been dating him for about six months and he was opening up a giant box of knives in front of me. And so was his brother. And they were passing the knives around the room like it wasn’t dangerous.
I got used to it after a few years. The joke became that I wasn’t one of them until I got something sharp and dangerous for Christmas.
This last Christmas was my first as an official member of the family. They made me open the very first gift, which was a sweet little assisted open pocket knife. My very first weapon.
It was their way of welcoming me into the family.
74. Dads Do Take Sick Days
My dad pretends to be sick and we all just go along with it and cancel our plans.
75. You Gotta Pay the Troll Toll
When I was in high school, we had a kitchen troll. It was a tiny troll figurine that we would hide in the kitchen. If you found the troll, you had to hide it again. We got pretty creative.
76. Having a Gas
Whenever anyone in the family is sad (me, my mother, or my sister), my dad will drop whatever he is doing and take us for a drive. He’ll drive for as long as it takes for us to feel better. Doesn’t matter if he’s in a deep sleep, working, or eating dinner. He’ll drop it without a second’s thought.
77. All About “You”
We skip 99.9% of the “Birthday Song” at parties and get right to the best part, “YOUUUUUUUU!” No joke. Mom lights the candle, everyone holds their arms out toward the birthday boy/girl and we all sing “YOUUU” and then the candle gets blown out.
I thought it was corny at first, but it cuts to the point, saves shy singers any embarrassment, and we get to the cake sooner.
78. Our Own Private Getaway
My sister and I were never close growing up but we both shared a common goal, which was to open a Christmas present early. For the record, I think she was about 10 years old and I was about 8. We made up a fake holiday on December 17.
It was to celebrate the people who make socks in the winter to keep our feet warm. We made a few fake holiday cards, we wrote a song, and we did some stupid dance with it to convince our parents to let us open a present before Christmas in honor of our new “holiday.” They said they were so impressed that we worked so hard together as a team just to open a gift that they decided to let us. We celebrated this stupid holiday every year with an early present. My family still gets my sister and I presents every year for this, and we are almost 30.
79. An Elephant Never Invests
We have lucky elephant statues throughout the house. Each one has a dollar bill wrapped around the upwards facing trunk. My grandmother insists that this is a Puerto Rican tradition that brings prosperity and good luck. However, the elephant cannot face the windows or doors because it signifies money leaving the home.
80. You Can Count on Silence
We always have a massive argument at Christmas and don’t speak for six months.
81. Sandwiched in the Annals of History
We end phone calls and emails with the phrase “Ham and jam.” Dad’s a military historian.
Operation Deadstick was the British glider-borne assault of the Orne and Caen canal bridges, more commonly known as “Pegasus Bridge.” During the real operation, the Commander was issued with two codewords to be radioed back to England to report the outcome.
The capture of the Caen canal bridge (Pegasus) was codenamed “Ham” and the Orne canal bridge (Horsa) was codenamed “Jam.” When both bridges were captured the message was sent back to England—“Ham and Jam”.
Every conversation is the preservation of small but important bridges between us.
82. Step into These Treats
Yes! My family has its own holiday called Squirrel of the Night. It’s celebrated yearly on March 9. If you leave your shoes outside your bedroom door the night before the Squirrel of the Night will come and fill them with nuts and candy. This is allegedly to thank my mother for her service to Sciuridae-kind because she rescued a chipmunk once when she was little. We’ve celebrated yearly since I was a baby.
I’m pretty sure my parents came up with the idea one day while stoned.
83. Can You Ever Be Too Blessed?
We say “God bless you” to any bodily noise, not just a sneeze. I’ve done this to my friends too and they just look at me like I have two heads.
84. Little Dancers
We have this little hula girl statuette that gets passed around the family at Christmas.
Every year someone has the little hula girl and is tasked with stashing it somewhere in another person’s house/luggage for them to discover it. They then have to keep it on display in their home for the entire year until they can stick someone else with it.
The only catch is that no one ever talks about it, and nobody has any idea when it started.
85. War for Your Eardrums
My family listens to Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds album on Christmas morning.
Usually, my dad and I are first up, so we play it really loudly to wake my brothers up.
It’s my favorite bit of Christmas.
86. Off With Their Heads
Supposedly my family picked the wrong side in the French Revolution and sided with the French royalty and had to flee to England after some of them lost their heads. Money buys favor, and they were given land in Scotland by the crown.
All was well and good ‘till they ticked off the church. Some of them lost their heads and had to flee to Canada. Now we wait to tick off the Canadian government and see who loses their heads and where we have to go next. My grandfather has a French family crest and an English coat of arms garment that no one wants to talk about, I only found out about them after helping him move after my grandmother died.
87. Mysterious Inheritance
My grandma inherited several hundred thousand dollars from her stepdad.
The juicy part is that to this day, no one knows how he got it. No one even knew he had that kind of money until he died. Since I’m from the South, my guess is rum running or something like that but we don’t know and likely never will.
88. A Real Man Always Comes Seasoned
Not so much a tradition, but my dad really has this thing for cayenne and a container of it would always be on the table. He would put a little bit on almost everything. I also really like it and do the same thing but apparently having a cayenne shaker on your table is weird. I found out when I was at a friend’s and asked for it and they were very confused and went and got it off the spice rack.
89. Our Own Private Feed
The family newsletter.
My uncle ran a family newsletter, people wrote in and contributed articles, recipes, etc. He snail mailed a copy to the extended family—we’re a very large family—every month.
The only other person I ever met that had a family newsletter is my wife.
90. Familial Fascism
Me: “I went to Rome this summer!”
Grandpa: “That’s great! I was in Rome once.”
Me: “What did you see when you went?”
Grandpa: “Oh you know… I just marched where they told me to march.”
Hint: he’s not American.
91. Famous Last Words
My kids are grown, and we live in different parts of the country.
Whenever one of us gets on a plane, we call each other and say, “I regret nothing.”
Creepy, but fun.
92. Beast Wars
A little over a decade ago my mother found an old high school art project while packing up boxes in preparation to leave my childhood home. This piece of “art” was terrible. It was a hand-sculpted toothbrush holder. Basically, a large green cup, but with the top of it being a huge wide-open mouth, with big nasty teeth and a tongue spilling out well over the side of it. It was colored and fired in a kiln. It will now be solely referred to as “The Beast.”
My mother is very nostalgic and hates to throw things of this nature away. So she gave it to my sister, who was already married and moved out. This is where the fun begins. My sister (Emily) denies it was her that made something that ugly and says it was my brother. My mom tells her to give it to him then. But, when Emily tries to give the wretched spawn that is the Beast to my brother (Merrick) he also denies fathering such an abomination.
This escalates quickly, very quickly into a full-on war. Emily and Merrick spend the next ten years finding new and creative ways to sneak the object into each others’ homes and hide it. Because if the other person doesn’t even know it is in their house, it clearly will not be in yours. But if you have hidden it on the other, you are always wondering, “Have they found it yet?!” or “Is it in my house?”
Finally, the war ends when my Merrick comes to me asking for help. You see, I was doing some construction work in my sister’s house. He looks at me with intensity and camaraderie that only a brotherhood can produce, “Hide it somewhere she will NEVER find it!”. I just nod reassuringly and take the Beast home with me.
The next month I am making and installing custom cabinetry in my sister’s master closet. And I get the idea. There is a larger piece that I made to go floor to ceiling, to hold all her jewelry and a mirror with a chest of drawers below it. I cut a hole in the wall, wedge The Beast between two framing studs and seal its tomb as I glued, screwed and nailed that SOB into the wall. I took pictures of the entire act, as per Merrick’s request, and he slowly started leaving hints to my sister that she might want to take a look around her house for it.
Finally, at Christmas, Merrick made a hand-drawn sketch of the Beast with the words “You are not alone” wrapped it up and gave it to her on Christmas morning. Emily spent a year looking for it, the next Christmas he gave her the pictures of it being sealed into the very framework of her house. It was beautiful. Game over… or is it…
Fast forward to last year, my mother walks up to me at Christmas time, the entire family in the living room. She says, “Close your eyes and hold out your hands,” I comply. She places something in my hand, the texture is very familiar, but the shape is foreign. “Open your eyes.”, she says. I look down. In my hands is another piece of handcrafted “art” colored and kilned, and it is actually, somehow, uglier than The Beast.
“WHAT IS THIS!” I yell. She smiles and just says, “Flip it over.”. I do, and on the back engraved into the very clay that formed it, is my name, age, and the date it was made. There was a moment of silence in the house, and everyone knew. The years of peace and comfort had come to an end. The nights of being able to lay your head on your pillow and know you were alone, and your family was safe from It, oh but a distant memory.
A new war had begun…
93. John McCry
My mom and dad split when I was 4 years old. When they finalized the divorce, it was a week before Christmas when I was 8. My dad got custody and after Christmas dinner and stuff, he put me and my sister to bed.
An hour or so later I could hear my dad crying. I went out to hug him. He was watching Die Hard on TV. I sat and watched with him. So now every year, we watch Die Hard together.
94. Kevin McCallister Is All Grown Up and Had Kids, I See
We were never under the impression that others did this, but I have to share it as I think it was a wonderful thing my parents did.
Imagine your younger years. Santa Claus is alive and well, and all you can think about is what toy you’re getting for Christmas.
My parents had a deal with Santa.
He’d give us good presents, but we had to earn them even if we had been good. How did we earn them? My parents would booby-trap the house. Nothing lethal or harmful, of course. But we had to make it through them without awakening our parents—we never succeeded. From trip wires to scarecrows in hallways; nuts on the floor to make you slip, doors tied together—even the circuit breakers were turned off so there were no lights. My parents went all-out. About two weeks before Christmas, all the flashlights and bladed objects—scissors, pocketknives, etc.—mysteriously disappeared from the house.
The best one was the one year I was in the lead—I had three siblings—and was nearly to the den where the presents awaited.
I spotted a tripwire across the doorway. Thinking myself clever, I moved in and snipped it with the scissors I had stashed earlier that month. This…was a mistake. I look up just in time to see an old Halloween decoration flying straight at my face—a big, hairy spider. Oh, how I screamed. To this day, my dad won’t let me forget it. I woke the whole house up, my dad was rolling on the floor with laughter, and I was traumatized for life.
95. Use Your Head
Every Easter egg me or my sister have ever eaten has been broken open on our heads. I only found out this was strange when I went to university and three of my flatmates stared at me as I placed a chocolate egg on the table, then slammed my forehead into it.
96. We Did Nazi That Coming
We found a picture of two great-aunts arm in arm with Hitler. We also have a signed photograph of Mussolini.
97. Broken Promises
That my great-great-great-grandpa left England for America and was supposed to send money for them to come over, but he never did. He just started a new family in America.
98. Unlikely Prankster
Not exactly ‘dark,’ but after my grandpa died we were going through his stuff and found an old letter. My white, very Christian, very conservative grandpa had gotten kicked out of college for organizing a panty raid and somehow no one ever knew.
Of course, we framed the letter and it’s now hanging on the wall of my grandma’s house
99. Childhood Innocence
My favorite uncle cheated on my auntie. Ended up knocking the woman up. She had the child and my uncle was forced to tell my aunt. Aunt divorced my uncle. He became an alcoholic and I had absolutely no idea.
I thought all the times we were going for car rides as a kid, he purposely drove crazy because it was entertaining for me and my cousins but it turned out he was just plastered.
100. Grandma Spills The Beans
My father had an affair with his brother’s wife so my cousin is also my brother.
My cousin doesn’t know though, grandma let this slip whilst wasted.
101. First is the Worst
I have a twin sister who was born two minutes before me. She calls me every year two minutes before I was born, at like 8:09 in the morning.
When we turned 21, she came and woke me up, and legally chugged a beer two minutes before I was born.
102. I’m Just “Borrowing” Your Life Savings to Flush Them Down the Toilet
My older sister has stolen through the years an unknown amount of money from my parents and others. After my dad died she started to hit my mom up for huge amounts of money until her savings were gone. She was then living on social security and my sister would “borrow” so much of that that our mom would end up borrowing from her neighbors to get through the month.
My younger sister moved her close to her and when going through all of the bills and canceled checks we found not only checks to our older sister but checks for bail for the older sister’s boyfriend and then a restraining order to keep him away from our mom. It is amazing how scummy family can be.
103. Life-Changing Friend Request
My dad knocked up a girl when he was a teenager and she gave him the ultimatum of leaving or staying. If he left she wouldn’t go after him for child support, so of course, he left. The secret came out because he told my mom when they were dating 25 years ago (before I was born) that he MIGHT have a son. She didn’t look into it.
My sister and I found my brother on Facebook. He looks identical to me and has a daughter. I met him a few months ago and he’s awesome. We told the rest of my family and now my dad doesn’t talk to any of us. My brother has a daughter so I’m an aunt and my grandma is a great-grandma.
104. Bewitching Revelation
Found a Salem witch in the family tree. Not really a secret, just forgotten.
105. The Height of Hypocrisy
My aunt with a very “holier-than-thou” attitude has been having a 40+ year affair with a childhood sweetheart. This is a person that was always quick to criticize other people’s family issues and tried so hard to present her and her family as “perfect.” Her husband is a dirtbag to our family and she lets him completely get away with it. I guess we know why now.
106. Stranger Than Fiction
My great-grandfather was a quiet kind man and treasurer for his chapter of the Elks Lodge in Texas. He was attacked on his way home from an Elks Lodge meeting. He suffered amnesia and regained consciousness as a sailor on his way to Haiti. After landing, he lived in the country for a few months before getting into a bar brawl with a police officer and getting knocked out.
He regained consciousness in jail, with a new-found memory of who he was. He told this tale to a priest from jail, who believed him and wanted to help. The priest wrote my great-grandmother and the American government and somehow convinced the Haitian government to let him return to America.
He returned to my great-grandmother, had two children, and was a law abiding citizen for the rest of his life.
This story is so UNBELIEVABLE that when my mother told it to me six months ago I was convinced it was a hoax. She has documents (the letters from the priest and others) and testimonials of his friends that say this behavior was uncharacteristic. I dunno, crazy man…
107. Buried Secrets
Some of our distant relatives were buried in unmarked graves behind the original homestead.
Today, it’s a condo development. There’s no record of what happened to those graves.
108. Criminal Mastermind
The real reason my uncle wasn’t able to make it to my parents’ wedding was that he was in prison. He had the excellent idea to rob a convenience store by yelling at the cashier and throwing bananas at him. After stealing $8 he walked three doors down to a Chinese restaurant and sat down to eat. Since it was winter, the cops just followed his tracks apparently.
109. Hidden In Plain Sight
My great-grandfather had two families that lived about 200 yards from each other for about 20 years. Neither had any idea the other existed until the funeral. When the priest asked the spouse to step forward, two women did. I’ve been told it was quite a scene in the aftermath. I remember going to see my grandma when I was younger and being told these people were my half cousins but had no idea what that meant until I was lot older and my dad told me what had happened.
Apparently, way back in the day, there were shipwreckers in my family. They’d go up to the cliffs and shine a light to direct ships onto rocks, then they’d steal whatever they could.
111. Gone But Not Forgotten
There was a child born on an isolated farm during the Great Depression. She was born at home with no midwife or doctor in attendance. The parents never registered a birth certificate with the county for her. She got very sick with a high fever as a young child (3-4 years old), and there was no money for a doctor, no phone to call anybody, no car to drive her into town, and no neighbors near enough to go ask for help.
The family treated her as best as they could, but she died after a couple of days. She was buried on the family land with no official grave marker. Since her birth was never registered, her death wasn’t either. Nobody knew she had lived and died but the immediate family. None of the (now very elderly) surviving siblings remember exactly where she was buried on the property. Just that her name was Violet, she was a very pretty blonde child, and she was completely healthy but fell ill and died over the course of only a few days.
At this point, some extended family members doubt the story, but I remember my mom insisting that Violet was real and is buried somewhere on that piece of land.
112. True Darkness
My dad still owns a bunch of Beanie Babies and is convinced the market for them will come back around.
113. High Time He Explained Himself
Ages ago I arranged a meeting with the local dope dealer through an acquaintance and surprise surprise, it was my dad. Needless to say, major questions were asked on both sides.
My god, the look on our faces must’ve been priceless!
114. Witching Hour
When I was 13 years old, I was initiated into the family witchcraft tradition. The biggest shock was running into two classmates at a Sabbat (Pagan holiday).
115. Machiavellian Grandma
My step great-grandmother killed my biological great-grandmother and great-grandfather. She killed my biological great-grandmother by pushing her off a building—everyone thought she was drunk because it was some rooftop party back in the ‘20s. She wanted my great-grandfather because he was wealthy at the time. He lost almost everything in the stock market crash, and when they realized they wouldn’t recover, she left him for a man who was still wealthy (my step-great grandfather). Poisoned my real great-grandfather. She admitted all this to my mother on her deathbed. Grandma Velma was a psycho.
116. Scottish Scoundrel
This story has been told to me by numerous family members. I’ve tried verifying it but so far I haven’t been able to. Anyway, here it goes…
My ancestor lived in Scotland, belonged to a noble family. The family had a castle and were, as you’d expect when you own a castle, incredibly wealthy. For old mate ancestor, this wasn’t enough. One day his brother was out exploring the lands, doing whatever you did in 18th century Scotland. His brother’s wife remained in the castle while her husband was away.
Old mate ancestor decides to get things started with his sister-in-law. His brother comes home, discovers his brother in bed with his wife and is outraged. He immediately calls a family meeting to discuss this.
As old mate ancestor has disgraced the family, it’s decided that he should be exiled to Australia, never to set foot in the family castle ever again. Off he goes, given a fair whack of cash to ensure he can find his feet in Australia.
Several generations pass (the stories from family are always quite vague about how many…) and here I am today, with the story still told at countless family gatherings…
117. What a Load
All this time my family thought that my weird Hungarian last name meant “boat builder.” Well, recently we were enlightened to learn that the closest meaning is actually “man who goes around the village at night and picks up the toilet buckets from doorsteps.”
118. Way to Leave Us Hanging
A long time ago, back when I was still in middle school my mom’s best friend died. She wouldn’t tell me how she died. Only that it was sudden. When I asked why we weren’t going to the funeral she told me that there wouldn’t be one because “her body was being donated to science.”
I didn’t ask any more questions. That was the last time we ever talked about her.
Well, five months ago my mom handed me her phone to find the number for Domino’s and as I’m scrolling through her contacts I come across the phone number of the dead best friend. Biggest WTF moment of my life. The next day I called it from a pay phone at Waffle House and she picked up. I instantly recognized the voice and accent. She’s not dead. Second biggest WTF moment of my life.
119. Mystery Father
My grandmother came home from a business trip pregnant. That child is my mother, but she was raised entirely by the man my grandmother married. We have no idea who the biological father is since grandma passed away without telling anyone his name.
120. Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
My grandmother has all the dirty little secrets but she’s too proper to spill anything. Until this one night when she told me about my grandfather’s (her husband’s) family. Essentially, they were poor, living off the streets and trying to earn money during Australia’s gold rush.
Anyway, the family had too many kids and not enough money so they sold one of their kids to a Chinese businessman. He would’ve been my grandfather’s great uncle I suppose. No one knew and she hasn’t said boo of it since then.
121. Thanks for the Compliment
My Father. Unless I’ve done something my mom doesn’t like, then she can’t wait to pull out the “you’re just like Your Father.” Side note, my dad is awesome, so secretly I take this as a compliment.
122. No One to Talk to
My mother’s mental and physical abuse of both me and my sister during our childhoods.
I can’t talk about it with her because the conversation never goes anywhere. Same crap every time I try to bring it up to get the smallest bit of closure: “that never happened” turns to “well if it happened it didn’t happen like that” to “well if it happened like that then you provoked me and it’s all your fault.” On a certain level, she believes she genuinely was not abusive because what she did to me was much more mild than the even more abusive upbringing she had. She thinks the fact that she did “better” means she did good.
I can’t talk about it with my sister because she’s much older than I am and got the heck out of the house the second she could (not that I blame her) and wrote off the entire family. Not only my mom but also me and everyone else, and I’ve never had any relationship with her and have been rebuffed when I’ve tried to reach out.
I can’t talk about it with extended family because my mother never did anything in front of them, and I’m a perpetual screw up so I have zero credibility. Tried talking to an aunt I used to be close to about it once and she scolded me for “making up stories” and immediately told my mother what I had said. I knew that if she didn’t believe, me none of the rest of them would. I never tried again.
123. The Slip-Up
Apparently our dad had another kid about 8 years older than me. My mom blurted something out about it after their divorce when she was pissed about something. It was along the lines of, “if he thinks he can forget you exist like that other kid of his…” She then turned very white and I was never able to get more out of her than that.
My dad pretends he doesn’t know what I’m talking about, but has apparently told my brother a bit of the story and then backtracked and never talked about it again. So yeah, apparently I’m not the oldest.
124. Priest Life
My grandfather’s brother was a priest when he was younger. His wife of 40+ years used to be a nun. Their first child was born a few months after they left.
125. Kicking When She’s Down
I was in a horrible place after losing my unborn child. That’s the exact moment my ex-husband chose to sue me for full custody of the other child. My sister consoled me and supported me through it all. I thought she was on my side. Until I realize just how deeply she had been betraying me this entire time. I don’t know if I can ever forgive her.
My sister talked my ex-husband into suing me for full custody at the exact moment I was unable to contest it properly. She also foddered his case with lies to make me look like a terrible mother, while simultaneously patting me on the back and consoling me that he was a terrible man.
He didn’t win, but the case made things contentious for us for years and made it impossible to grieve with my now husband, because I was in survival mode to make sure I didn’t lose my daughter.
126. Those Barcodes Are Giving Me Deja Vu
Not as bad as some of the things on this thread but this was an awful move…
I asked my uncle, who is a mechanic, if he could install new belts on my Honda since it would be much cheaper than taking it to a shop. He told me he would do it for me, I just had to buy the parts. Bought the parts, took the car to him and came back a few hours later. He told me he was finished and I paid him $200 for a $450 job, which was dope.
A few days later my cousin texts me a picture of some parts that his dad asked him to put on eBay. They were all the parts that he said he installed on my car. My cousin thought they may be from me since he knew what job his dad was doing for me. I called my uncle and he denied it firmly. I still had the receipt and matched the bar codes to the ones on my receipt, so they were clearly mine. My cousin, who is also a mechanic, installed them for free for me a week later.
Uncle still denies it and kept my $200. Don’t talk to that rat anymore even if he’s around at family gatherings.
127. We DO NOT Talk About Cottage Cheese
OK, to break the chain of secret girlfriends and estranged relatives, my family does not talk about cottage cheese. I can tell you want to hear more about this, for that we must start at the beginning. My father is a lover of all things dairy. He would drink so much milk as a child, his mother would tell him, “You either have to become a dairy farmer, or marry a farmer’s daughter.” And dear dad did just that when he and my mom tied the knot.
Dad also loves cheese: solid cheese, soft cheese, and…cottage cheese.
Dad is, however, very squeamish. He cannot stand the sight or thought of blood, body fluids or…cheese curds. This makes enjoying his cottage cheese (by the quart) difficult. No one is allowed to talk about cheese, curds, whey, or how it is all made when he is enjoying his snack. If you make the mistake of mentioning any of these things, dad ends the conversation by throwing his hands in the air and yelling, “WE DON’T TALK ABOUT THAT!”
128. Like the Brother Never Even Existed
My brother who died. We never, ever talk about him. It’s so strange, growing up I knew I had a brother and I knew he was hit and killed by a car walking home, but I don’t know anything about him aside from that. I’ve seen his pictures, I know what he looked like. I don’t know anything about his personality, his likes or his dislikes, the type of music he listened to. I once found his comics in my mom’s closet when I was younger, but that was about it.
It is almost like it’s just a story and he wasn’t a real person. It wasn’t until my grandfather died about 11 years ago that my mother and I walked to his grave. She broke down into an inaudible mess, and it really hit me for the first time ever that he was a real person, as crazy as that sounds. I don’t understand that pain of losing a child, but it hurt to see my mom mourn like that, almost as if it had just happened.
The only time since then he was ever mentioned was by my dad a few months ago. Out of my mother, father, and sisters, I’m the tallest. My dad told me how the only one of us who was taller than me was Jimmy, and how he always seemed to keep growing, how he probably would have towered over me. I almost cried. I wish I got to know him.
129. Ignoring the Truth
That my parents died from AIDS in the early 90s when I was 2. Growing up, I never knew how my mother died, and I was told my father just “disappeared.” I remember throwing a tantrum in middle school for wanting to know what really happened to my parents. My aunt finally told me the truth. I remember crying alone in my room for hours. I’m pretty sure their deaths were the starting point for how strange my family is.
Anyhow, my family hasn’t mentioned it since then, and I’m now 27. As far as I know, we’ve never said the words HIV or AIDS aloud in my family. If it must be talked about, it’s “that disease” or something similar.
My friends constantly wonder why I never mention my parents, and I still have hang ups telling people why/how they passed away. It makes me feel so conflicted inside because I know I should have nothing to feel ashamed of, but my family and society makes me feel my parents’ deaths should be swept under the rug.
130. Learning the Truth About Dad
I was always told by my family that my biological grandfather on mom’s side died in a rock climbing accident right before Mom was born. I found out last year that what actually happened was, while he was still attending a military college in the South in the 60s, my grandmother discovered that he liked to wear women’s clothing after finding a box of dresses in his size in his closet.
The next day, she came back to find him hanging from the ceiling, and she and two of her brothers had to smuggle his body out of the room and convince a coroner to rule it an accident. I’m honestly not even sure of who all in the family knows the truth, but anyone who does sure as heck doesn’t talk about it.
131. Double Life
My pawpaw had a secret girlfriend for several decades. We suspect some of her children might be his as well. He had 7 children with my mawmaw, and I guess to escape he’d leave and live with the girlfriend for a couple of weeks at a time. The woman lived a couple houses down from them, so my dad and his siblings never suspected anything, because he was still around the house a lot during those times.
My mawmaw didn’t like it, but she was a very prim and proper woman, and this was during a time when people didn’t air their dirty laundry and they certainly didn’t divorce. I was told that when the woman died in the early 2000s, my mawmaw sent flowers to the funeral; not sure if it was out of spite or just because that’s the kind of woman she was.
No one talked about it for years and years until my mawmaw started showing signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia in her 70s. She would revert back to that time a lot. It was hard watching her relive it every day.
132. Thanks for Sticking Your Nose in, Sis
My sister lied to a social worker to have us investigated for child abuse and neglect, leading to our foster child being removed from our home even though the claims were found to be false. She also spread the gossip that we were being investigated which hurt some friendships.
That foster child she got removed? Not only did she mess up that baby’s life, she also destroyed my other kids because one day their sibling was home and the next gone with no warning. We had prepared them for foster kids leaving but this foster child was within weeks of being adopted by us.
To this day my sister maintains that she did the right thing because we “didn’t need more kids.”
133. A Very Bad Idea
My girlfriend’s cousin molested his own sister when he was 18 and she was around 8. He went to jail for a year or so and now has to register as a sex offender. His mother makes her daughter hang out with him. Seriously, the woman makes her daughter hang out with the man who molested her because “they’re a family.” What the freaking heck.
As a victim of sexual abuse when I was younger, I understand what this girl is going through whenever she’s around him. My phone isn’t working right now so I contacted my local state police by email and gave them all the details. I hope they follow through.
134. I’ll Get Around to It One of These Days
My grandmother said she needed a place to stay one night due to issues with her housemate. She slept on the couch… For the next ten years. Made no effort to get her own place despite having a very good retirement income and still working part-time as a nurse. Loved to hit the casino though…
135. Slapstick Comedy Isn’t a Good Environment to Grow up in
My family is a messed up collection of people, but one of my cousins is the soap opera star of white trash:
My cousin married his meth dealer. Promptly got her pregnant, resulting in her sixth kid (the first five had been taken away by the state and were being raised by her parents). Within a year of the baby being born, they get into a drunken fight, cousin’s wife tries to drive away with baby. They drunkenly physically fight over the baby as she tries to get her in the car, and the car door gets slammed into baby’s torso, breaking two of her ribs.
Cops come, wife has sobered up and cousin hasn’t. She blames the fight on him, not revealing how badly the baby is hurt. Cousin gets arrested. Three hours later she gets arrested driving drunk, baby in the car. They discover the broken ribs, baby gets taken away. Her parents couldn’t take another kid, so the baby ended up getting adopted by one of my uncles and is now 10 years old and healthy.
136. He Sounds Like a Delightful Fellow
My cousin and his wife are still legally married but separated. He wants to move across the country, but he’s still on parole and can’t leave the state. Last I heard, his wife has had two more kids, both from different fathers. The state has one, and her oldest son has taken custody of the other (as soon as he turned 18 he got custody of three of his siblings to help his aging grandparents out).
My cousin is still an addict (off meth, but still a raging alcoholic), he lives in a tent on various family members’ backyards, and I avoid him since he is still welcome at family gatherings where his biological daughter is also present. If this is ever mentioned in his hearing, he has forty thousand reasons why it’s not his fault at all.
He has stolen from all my aunts and uncles for drug money, sexually creeped out me and every other cousin over the age of 15, caused serious personal property damage with a fire, and my family insists on sweeping it under the rug every time.
137. Making the Headlines
After reading some of these, I’ve realized mine isn’t so bad.
But my uncle is Cecil Russell. A lot of what he’s done is public, but he’s done so many more terrible things. The two big ones are that when he was still just my aunt’s swimming coach—when she was a teenager, mind you—he got her pregnant and destroyed her shot at the Olympics. He also participated in the murder of a man over steroids (something he continues to sell to this day), but was only ever charged with hiding the body.
138. A Hunka Hunka Burning Love
While suffering from postpartum depression, my mother set me on fire when I was 26 days old. We don’t have a relationship but that’s from the rest of my childhood, not this.
139. Getting Personal
Dad got with my 17-year-old friend when I was 14. They have a whole family together, 14 years later.
My sister in law was originally dating my oldest male cousin. She started cheating on him at some point with his brother. Now, she has a kid with both brothers and is in a long-term relationship with the younger one.
My cousin molested me for fifteen years.
I could go on forever, baby!
140. An Unhealthy Rivalry
There’s my grandmother who divorced my grandfather and married his brother, making her my great aunt.
There’s the other grandmother who showed up to my grandfather’s funeral drunk, dressed like a $2 prostitute, cussed out the family, and nearly knocked the casket over.
141. An Enterprising Man
I had a cousin who was addicted to heroin and his parents were always doing stuff to bail him out and keep him from being homeless. One time they put down a deposit and paid rent for a furnished apartment for him. He ended up selling the furniture for drug money.
Another time they rented a mobile home for him and couldn’t figure out why the water bill was so high. Turns out he was charging his homeless friends $1 to take a bath or shower and that was going on pretty much around the clock.
142. You’d Think the Stealing Part Was Bad Enough…
My brother threatened to kick in my front door and kill me (6 months pregnant), my husband and 2-year-old son. He had stolen the phone I had purchased for my dad and I turned it off. He wanted me to turn it back on.
143. Taking Messed up to New Levels
My cousin killed his brother and father… he got up one morning, had a glass of milk, I guess it was sour because he said they were trying to poison him. He shot my uncle in his bed, and then went after Robert… when police arrived, he tried to say that Robert had killed his father and that he took the gun away from him and killed him in self-defense… however, the only place on the gun they could find Robert’s prints were on the end of the gun barrel, like he had tried to push it away…
He is currently doing life without parole in the Oklahoma Prison system.
144. Liar Liar Pants on Fire
My aunt married a guy a few years back. He was a pathological liar and lied about literally everything for no reason. Tried to convince everyone he was in the military “black ops” and that there was no record of him because it was “secret.” He also did a lot of other messed up stuff like threatening our family members and friends, and other things. He actually even tried to kill my uncle and my two cousins, but got his butt properly beat down with a baseball bat.
Long story short, my aunt ended up divorcing him later ’cause he was an all around freaking jerk, and he came to her house, rang the doorbell, then shot himself in the head with a handgun right on her doorstep. Real messed up.
145. A Little Attention Would Have Seemed Well-Deserved
I was deployed twice overseas and each time I returned home not a single member of my family ever came to see me return. I was the only person returning with my group that had no one there to greet me. The entire four years I was stateside, not a single member of my family came to visit.
One of my older brothers married a girl from Samoa and my parents flew there for their wedding, my other older brother is in the Army and my parents have traveled to attend all his major military events. I come from a very conservative Mormon/Catholic family in Wyoming and we have generations of veterans in our family.
I was the only member in my family to obtain an Eagle Scout and graduate from college. I don’t know what I did to deserve this but I’ve finally made peace with myself after years of battling sadness mixed with anger. Now that I have my own son, I realize now that what I went through was a lesson to ensure my son will never experience what I had to go through.
This is the first time ever posting this personal of a story. I did finally confront them two years ago and they said that either “it was just poor timing…” because they had “…spent all their money visiting your brothers…” or “…we didn’t think you wanted us there.” I was debating to add this part to my story because it’s extremely personal and is one of the main reasons I joined the Navy. My father tried to enlist during the Vietnam war.
While everyone was heading for either college or Canada, he wanted to join the Navy to be a pilot or be on a ship. (He loves sailing and Navy ships). Unfortunately, he was denied due to how bad his eyesight is. So when it came time for me to join the military, I thought how great it would be if my father lived out his childhood dream through me now. I had envisioned, after I signed up, him coming out to all the Naval bases and me taking him on tours of all the ships. The Navy even offered family members to ride into port with their loved ones when the ships got close enough to the port.
I truly believe that the Mormon religion had a major role to play in this. I’m not Mormon anymore and left at 18 when I went into the Navy. My father has always and will continue to be seriously involved in the church. I think he sees me leaving the church as one of my greatest failures and not even serving for our country could make up for that.
The most disappointing part of the story – as it relates to the LDS church – was when my Bishop confronted me after he found out I had joined at 17 during my junior year of high school. He approached me at Walmart, while I was with my friends, and said “I’m very disappointed with your decision. Putting forward your selfish choice to not serve your mission is a disgrace to your church, your family, and your community.” I will never forget his comments.
My reply to him was: “Thank you for telling me this as this only solidifies my choice to serve and leave the church forever. I will sleep well at night knowing I will potentially die for our country and what I will be fighting for will allow you to continue to have the right and freedom to make those types of statements.”