Every family has secrets—but few are as disturbing as these ones. From long-lost relatives to dark pasts, these Redditors came together to share the skeletons in the closet that their families tried to keep from them...until they were ultimately exposed. Grab some popcorn, because these twisted family secrets are beyond shocking.
1. He Liked Digging
We found three extra rooms. Apparently, my uncle liked digging under his house and had created a huge underground area—10-foot ceilings reinforced with steel I-beams, painted cinder block walls, and these ridiculous steel doors in all the rooms.
It looked like he was taking things very seriously to keep his house from caving into the hole he dug. Even had drains in the middle of all the rooms in case of flooding, I guess. You would never suspect it, as it was just a house in a normal neighborhood. All sorts of crazy stuff down there.
Looked like he might have spent a few years straight-up exclusively living down there; lots of handmade wicker furniture, and creepy clay sculptures...
2. Little Orphan Granny
My grandma was raised in a Catholic orphanage under the pretext that she had lost both her parents and siblings during the Spanish influenza outbreak. But the truth was even sadder.
It turned out that she and her dad survived, but her dad didn’t want to take care of her, so he left her at an orphanage in Brooklyn and moved to Europe, where she started a whole new family.
3. What May Not Have Been
When my brother and I were young kids, our mother confessed a tragic secret. Turns out she had been married before meeting our dad. Her husband lost his life in Vietnam or something service-related when she was only 21. It blew our minds that we may not have existed. I now see why we were not told about this sooner. It also explained the mysterious birthday cards we received from "grandma's neighbor", who was actually the mother of the deceased.
4. The Flame That Fed The Fire
I burned down the backyard, and everyone knew it was me. I was seven or eight, had no babysitter, and was experimenting with matches and cotton. I started a backyard grass fire but had no hose. I called my mom crying that hobos threw lit matches over the fence, and I tried to extinguish it. For 22 years, they let me believe I had gotten away with it.
At the time, they seemed to believe me. Mom faked a babysitter, and neighbors whispered, but it all settled down. It turns out that this whole time they knew I burnt down the yard. The fireman knew it, the neighbors, parents, they all just let me believe it and kept it a hilarious inside joke amongst themselves until the night I went to admit it. It was my most important confession, and they all cackled with laughter.
5. No Explanation
A year after my parents divorced, my father took early retirement, sold the house, and moved with his mother from Ohio to Florida. All of this was very sudden and rushed; he accepted the first offer that was made on the house. He passed 18 months later. In his effects, we found his medical records—and that's when we learned the heartbreaking truth.
He had pancreatic cancer, did nothing to treat it, and never told a soul. He found out, retired, moved someplace warm, and waited. I also found his medals from his time in the Marines, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. My father was the poster child for PTSD.
A few years later, Grandma and I had a real heart-to-heart. She said I never really met the real him, a piece of him never really left Vietnam. He expired a broken and depressed man and told no one he knew that his time was up.
6. A Bond Between Brothers
So, about 40 years ago, my dad’s baby brother was in a BAD accident. He was driving a big rig through Alberta, and the stretch of highway he was on was raised up above the land around it. His cab ended up on one side of the road, his trailer on the other. He had to be air-lifted to the hospital. He was in a coma for days.
He couldn’t walk for a while after he woke up, but couldn’t remember he couldn’t walk, so kept trying to get out of his wheelchair and falling flat on his face—it was BAD.
My dad and their parents flew in from BC to be there for him. He pulled through, though had some minor brain damage. Went on to become a teacher, moved to Japan, got married, and had a couple of kids. Seven years ago, he went for a walk on New Year’s Day, but he never came home.
They found his body on the hiking trail. He’d had an aneurysm.
After his memorial service, my dad and I were staying up late into the night talking over some drinks. And the topic of his accident came up. Now, the first time I’d heard about the accident, I was a curious 10-year-old that had just noticed one of his pupils was bigger than the other. So I’d asked about it, and he told me the story over ice cream.
So when my dad brought up his hospital stay, I told him what I remembered being told: that when he finally woke up from his coma, he was alone in the room, but the room felt like my dad, and he knew he’d been there for him. My dad doubled over sobbing. He’d never known.
7. The Godfather
It always was weird to me how my ex’s parents had such a happy-looking yet extremely resentful marriage. My ex mentioned several times how sad it made him that his dad continually did things that were to his mother’s disadvantage and disappointment. They were painful for him to watch.
His dad would drive hundreds of kilometers and move mountains for the children, or rather, at least for his sister. For my ex, I am not so sure. It dawned on me that his father did these things on purpose and sabotaged the happiness of his wife. However, I just could not figure out why.
I also always found it weird how everyone in the family looked like they were related, except for my ex, with his thick head and his crooked tooth. One day, he spoke about his godfather who lived in Canada. After his godfather’s wife—his mother’s best friend—passed, he decided to move there and live in solitude.
He spoke about him very highly, how they had such a good relationship, and so on. Then, he sent me a picture, and suddenly it all made sense. His godfather had the same thick head, the same forehead with the same type of wrinkles, the same eye shape, the same chin, and the same crooked tooth.
To this day I am 100% convinced his godfather is his real father, and they probably all know—except for my ex and his sister.
8. Something Was Bugging Me
We had a cockroach problem when I was a kid. We kept putting down traps and spraying stuff around the house but could never figure out where they were coming from. As time passed, my parents decided I needed a new mattress for my waterbed, so we drained it. My dad pulled up the mattress and started freaking out at a horrifying discovery. I was in a separate room, so they thought I didn't hear, but the roach nest was under my waterbed mattress.
It had a pinhole leak which created the perfect environment for them. Since I wasn't in the room, all I was told was that something went wrong when he was draining it, and water sprayed everywhere. However, I heard them talking quietly about how THAT must have been why I had so many sleeping problems and why cockroaches were crawling on me while I was asleep. I try not to think about it often.
9. Survival Tactics
My dad was the one to discover the heartbreaking truth about our family origins. He find out that my grandpa had survived the Holocaust. My grandpa was from the Czech Republic, and after WWII, he moved to the US and raised my dad and his siblings as Christians. My dad had no idea my grandpa was Jewish, let alone a survivor of the Holocaust. Then, one day when he was in his mid-twenties, my dad was walking on his college campus, and my grandpa’s friend recognized him and told him about our family's past. My grandpa hid it because he wanted to protect his family and become successful in the States.
10. Withdrawn Cousin
My cousin hadn’t totally withdrawn and become reserved like I thought. It was just around family. I had no clue what was going on behind closed doors.
His narcissistic mother forced him to hide his tattoos (which I also found out about when he was admitted to the hospital) under long sleeves, and our (also narcissistic) grandfather snapped at him when he was younger that he talked too much and was annoying. So my cousin just shut down and didn’t do much at family gatherings.
He was his normal, joking self that I knew and idolized as a kid when he was with his friends, though. It broke my heart.
11. Surprising Ancestry
When my father’s mother passed, I found out where I actually come from. My father was doing the paperwork that comes with a family loss, and he tries to correct his mother’s maiden name. It turns out the form he was reviewing was correct.
She’d been born out in Saskatchewan to Ukrainian immigrants who suffered a lot of discrimination at the time. At 16 she hopped a train to Ontario, and when she got off, she told everyone her maiden name was something suitably WASPy, married a nice Canadian boy, had three kids, and never told anyone she was Ukrainian.
One of my aunts figured out something was up in her late teens when she found stuff written in Cyrillic in her mother’s personal papers, but her mother asked her to respect her privacy, and she kept her lips shut until her mother passed.
As a kid, your grandmother is just your grandmother. It was a big surprise to me, and I’m still kind of taken aback that I was suddenly a quarter of something so different than the other three quarters of my ancestry, who have been in Canada and the New World a very, very long time.
It’s funny, looking at pictures of her now as an adult. She’s the most Ukrainian-looking woman you’ve ever seen, and my father takes after his mother, and I have more of my dad in me than Mom looks-wise. I was once invited to a Ukrainian family’s BBQ, and some old woman grabbed me by the face and started pointing my head at people.
“Western Ukraine! Western Ukraine”! she cried in a thick accent. She then grabbed my date’s face. "Eastern Ukraine! Eastern Ukraine”! I had to tell her my date was Irish-Italian without any Ukrainian in her at all. Still, half-right isn’t too bad!
12. Two-Timing Trickster
I had an uncle who was a railroad engineer and worked the Terre Haute, Indiana, to Danville, Illinois line. He never took a day off from his one day there, one day back route. At his funeral, a strange woman came into the funeral home with some older children. No one knew who she was.
Finally, my grandma introduced herself to the woman and asked who she was. The woman said, “I’m Mrs. So and So. I’m here for my husband’s funeral”. It turned out that my uncle had two families, one in Terre Haute and one in Danville. I didn’t find out about this until I was an adult.
My mom, grandma, aunt, and sister kept it a secret for decades.
13. No Luck For These Irish Lads
Part of my mom's side is very, very convinced they're Irish in all the American "kiss me, I'm Irish" ways. My grandparents took a trip there and spent a lot of time at a local pub, getting to know Irish singers and poets; my cousins have very Irish names, etc.
I took a few ancestry tests to nail down the rest of my mom's side, and realized there was something weird going on. There was not a single percent Irish in any of them.
The family name, which is common among Irish-Americans, is actually a Swiss surname that got translated at some point, according to the genealogy trace I also had done. My now-deceased grandparents wanted their ashes spread in the Irish Sea, and my mom and her siblings are planning a big trip to do it.
I'm taking the secret to my grave.
14. Misjudged Mystery
The real reason my aunt moved back to my hometown was she that was briefly abducted by some bad guys she had displeased while working as a judge. This guy held her against her will and told her she could either leave town in the next 24 hours or be taken back in. I was about eight at the time, so everyone just told me she moved back because she missed us all. I found out about it when my brother and I were rehashing old stuff ten years later.
15. Conception Deception
My cousin is adopted, but for years we kept it a secret because she didn’t know. I was talking about it with my dad one day because I couldn’t believe she didn’t know. During the conversation, he let it slip that my older sister was conceived using donor sperm. After a moment, he added that I, too, was conceived using a donor.
Our two younger siblings, however, were not and were completely unexpected. It turned out that my older sister knew, but my mom made both my sister and dad promise not to tell me. I’m not entirely sure why I wasn’t supposed to know, but they managed to keep it a secret until I was 22 years old.
16. Doing His Best To Help
My grandfather was a bank executive at a small bank in a farm town in Arkansas. After his passing, my mother opened his safety deposit box—and couldn't believe her eyes.
She found his hidden ledger. He made loans to people the bank had denied due to background, type of employment, and/or skin color. He made the loans from his own pocket.
Most of the loans were between $200 to $500. He charged a nominal percentage rate and everything he earned in interest, he donated to the church. My grandmother had no idea and was heart-warmed when she found out. He left us in 1972.
17. Swinging Singles
My dad's biological father is his adopted father's brother, so, his uncle. His biological dad and his girlfriend were both underage, and she ended up having a kid. In order to keep it hush-hush, she had the kid and gave it to her boyfriend’s brother, who was of age and married. My dad didn’t know this.
In addition, my sister is only my half-sister because my parents would swap partners. My mom got pregnant when she and my dad were trying for a baby, but somehow she got pregnant by someone else instead. My dad was somewhat aware of it, but the real father doesn't know this, nor does my sister. It gets even crazier.
They lost all contact with the guy. Then, when my sister turned 20, she moved out to go live with her husband in a new state. She got a job and moved around within the company. She became great friends outside of work with her boss, who just so happened to be her biological dad.
18. Bait And Snitch
I was used as a test dummy to see if my uncle acted inappropriately with children. My family was suspicious, but instead of doing anything responsible, they decided to set me up as bait. I was only a toddler, so they figured since I couldn’t remember, it wouldn’t matter.
They had him babysit me for a couple of hours and recorded it. I was never supposed to know, but one day, my aunt spilled the beans to me by accident.
19. Practically A Saint
My maternal grandmother, we found out after she had passed, was using 10% of her income to sponsor unfortunate kids all over the world. She had been doing it for the last 40 years of her life nonstop. We found letters of her giving those kids advice, and then keeping in contact with them pretty much their whole lives. She received pictures of them growing up, and having families.
Essentially, my grandmother had far more than five kids. She helped to raise more grandchildren and great-grandchildren than we ever knew. Most of the kids she sponsored were orphans. We spent the next several months after she was gone getting in touch with all these people. Some managed to attend her funeral. Some made a trip to where we spread her ashes and sent us photos of them there.
We knew she was a saint to us, but we didn’t know she was a saint to hundreds of children spanning four decades.
20. Nothing To Hold Me Back
I struggled a lot when I was in school. In 4th grade, I was placed in special education classes and tested for a slew of disabilities. My mother was told the best they could expect from me was to maybe graduate high school and that I would be lucky to get into and graduate from a training program. My mother told me this on the day I graduated with honors from a state university with my bachelor's degree. She said she kept it a secret and never told anyone, let alone me, because she didn't want me to feel like my future wasn't my own.
21. Staking A Claim
My father's siblings and their families don't talk to us anymore since my grandmother's passing. I was told that they were just too busy working and doing their own thing to hang out like we all used to. On the off chance I saw them, I would always be the first and only one to say "hi" and try to catch up. About the time I was 18, I was told the real reason they didn't talk to us anymore.
They had turned their backs on my grandmother when she was on her last legs and about to lose her house. So, my father stepped up and tried to convince his siblings to help save the house and help with the medical bills. They turned their backs on her and my father, so my father ended up buying the house and restoring it.
When my grandmother passed, my father's siblings tried to "claim their piece of Mom's money" even though they didn't do anything for her when she was losing her life. To this day, they refuse to associate themselves with my father, mother, sister, and me.
22. Say Goodbye To The Old Country
My great-great-grandfather moved from Romania to America and got married to another Romanian immigrant shortly after he arrived. Once they married, he insisted they start using "American" names, only speak English in public, never return to Romania, and refrain from communicating with family in the old country.
When my great-grandmother—his daughter—was a teenager, the rest of the family made a disturbing discovery. Turns out, he'd actually abandoned his first wife and three children in Romania.
He left them in extreme poverty when he came to the States and married my great-great-grandmother. He was apparently a heavy drinker and paranoid all the time. His mental health suffered a lot as he aged, so I'm assuming guilt was factored into that.
Oddly enough, my great-grandmother went on to become a matchmaker through her Orthodox church by helping families with young female relatives still in Romania connect with families with young men in the US to arrange marriages so they could come Stateside.
23. The Lie That Led To A Broken Heart
My great-grandma told my grandpa that the Jewish girl he liked was taken to a concentration camp when in truth, they fled. The consequences of this lie were devastating.
My grandpa met my grandma shortly thereafter, and they got married. But apparently, my grandpa still talked about this other girl from time to time, that she was the one who got away and how awful it all was. Many years went by, and my aunt and dad were born.
My grandpa was walking around town and met the girl from back then that he had liked. He was totally shocked and found out that he had been lied to for all that time. My grandpa got sick pretty soon after that incident and passed when my dad was only five years old.
My grandma later once said she believed he passed from a broken heart.
24. Grandma’s Little Secret
I learned that the grandfather I grew up with was not my biological grandfather. I found out when I was in my early thirties after he had passed. My grandmother told me the night of his wake that he never got over his anger at the Catholic Church for refusing to marry them since she had already been married once. I responded, “Wait, what"?
She replied, “Oh, you didn’t know that papa wasn’t your biological grandfather? I guess you just learned something about yourself today"! But that wasn't the only shocker. I then learned that my grandma’s first husband was also not my biological grandfather. Turns out my mother was actually the product of an affair. I found that one out via an Ancestry.com DNA test.
My biological grandfather and uncle coincidentally took the test as well and popped up as “closely related”. My new uncle then contacted me, thinking he had solved a different family mystery of his own, and I asked my mom if she knew anything about the family. When my mom asked my grandma, my grandma spilled the beans. My biological grandfather also didn’t know.
25. Danke Shame
My great-aunt ran away with an American serviceman back in the day. She was engaged and on a pre-marriage trip with her fiancé in Germany when she met an American and ran away with him. She left her fiancé in Germany to travel back home alone and tell her family that she had eloped. My family cut her off and never spoke to her again.
Then, when she was older, she went back home penniless, with her children staying in the US. She wanted to live with her widowed mother, who was living on a very small pension. In a mysterious turn of events, no one knows what happened to her after her mother passed. I found out about this all at a family gathering.
26. He Wasn’t A Guy Everyone Loved
I’d always been told my paternal great-grandad was the kind of guy everyone loved, and a nice person. Turns out he only showed that side to certain people, and last year, my dad exposed him for he truly is.
He was a lying, narcissistic jerk who’d do anything to benefit himself. Apparently, he was a notorious swindler and would swipe things and sell them, and would make up huge lies to get himself some cheap momentary gain.
Like he purposely injured himself at work to get compensation. He would sneak onto public transport without paying, and if a conductor came around asking to see tickets, he’d get all Karen on them and rage about how disgusting it was that they were doubting him and painting him as a freeloader (which he was). He would threaten to get them fired until they left him alone.
He took my dad to a football game when he was a kid, but didn’t buy tickets and basically did loads of research about one of the team’s managers and when they arrived, he lied that they were friends of the manager and that he’d promised them free tickets because my dad was disabled (he wasn’t). But that wasn't the worst thing he did.
He also took his own wife’s wedding ring, sold it at a pawn shop, and told her my dad had done it. Just an uncaring no-good cheapskate.
27. Not Entirely Hardened By Life
I packed up my godfather/uncle’s apartment. He never had any children. So I thought it was my duty to clean his apartment. He was one of those men hardened by life, yet for a few members of his family, he was the kindest man. The rest of the world, in his opinion, could back right off. So I find his wallet and open it—and I almost burst into tears.
A bunch of ID, appointment cards, and whatnot. In there was a picture of baby me and him on the day of my baptism. Even 13 years later on, it still makes me happy and sad.
28. Safe Passage
My Welsh great-grandmother had a passage booked on the Titanic in 1912. She ended up not going because she "fell ill". It turned out it was actually an out-of-wedlock pregnancy that gave her such bad morning sickness she couldn't go. She lost the baby and came the following year, in 1913, and met my great-grandfather.
She only told my mom, who she helped raise during the summers, who then told me. Great-grandma getting knocked up saved an entire branch of our family tree!
29. A Painful Past
I always wondered why my grandmother hated my aunt—her older sister. She was a staunch Christian woman who even owned a church with her husband.
My aunt did a lot for my grandma while she was really sick, so when my grandma told me that she didn’t want my aunt anywhere near her during the last days of her life or at her funeral, it confused me. I asked why, but she just made it known very firmly she didn’t want her around.
My grandma raised me. We were best friends, and I was the first and favorite grandchild. All my cousins even told me after she passed, they all knew I was the favorite because of the unbreakable bond we had.
So, when members of the family started coming up to me asking why my aunt wasn’t allowed near her my grandmother’s bedside or at her funeral, I said I didn’t really know. I just knew I would make sure my grandma’s last wishes were fulfilled.
During my first job ever in high school, my boss was my grandma’s best friend from when they were in middle school through high school. They had a falling out because my grandma went down the wrong path shortly after high school. They never got back in touch again, except for the occasional hello at the store.
We crossed paths not too long ago, exchanged our memories of my grandma, and talked about what I was doing. She then asked, “How were you able to keep a straight face around your aunt after all the fake Facebook posts she puts up about your grandma after what she did"?
I knew my aunt had done something when they were younger, but it was never disclosed, and I never pushed further. I could have never guessed what it actually was. She told me my aunt inappropriately touched my grandma when she was between the ages of 10–13, and my aunt was 14–17. But that wasn't the worst part.
She would even let a couple of her boyfriends have their way with my grandma when their parents were away working. I cried for my grandma. She wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t deserve that and all the pain that she carried with her until her last breath when she was only 68.
Her friend thought I knew because of how close my grandma and I were. At that moment, it all made sense why my grandma acted the way she did around my aunt and why my aunt always tried to do everything for her to make up for what she had done. I told her not to tell anyone, and she hadn’t until she told me.
I blocked my aunt and almost that entire side of the family. I was already in no contact with my biological mom and dad. I will never tell a soul because I know that if this came out, it would cause an upheaval in that little town because my aunt is a very respected woman there.
She knows what she did, and she will have to live with it knowing it still inflicted pain on her sister until the day she passed. I know she will go to her grave with that, and it will always be in the back of her mind how she ruined her sister’s whole life. I imagine my grandma haunting her, and I smile.
I hope my grandma finally got the peace that she always deserved.
30. This Secret Was Put To Bed
My grandfather passed when I was 17. The part I am not supposed to know, which my mom—who has never been able to keep a secret in her life—told me, was that he didn’t pass of natural causes.
He waited until his social security check arrived for my grandmother to cash, and then took a bottle of pills and drank a bottle of booze. My grandmother found him like that and then called my mom to come over and help her put him into bed so that she could tell everyone he passed in his sleep.
He was old, therefore no one did an autopsy or anything.
31. Speaking In Tongues
My grandmother immigrated to North America from Europe in 1970 and did not leave Canada until she passed in 2017. Until the day she passed, everyone who knew her family or otherwise knew that she did not speak English. She only spoke her mother tongue. She couldn't read, write, or drive, and she didn't get out much.
The majority of her life was spent indoors, taking care of us grandkids before and after school and church. When she suffered a fall in 2007, she was hospitalized for a short time and given pain medication. My mother was with her in the hospital and left the room for a few minutes to grab a cup of coffee.
When she came back, she couldn't believe her eyes. My highly medicated grandma was having an entire conversation in English with one of the medical staff. She was perfectly fluent. I'm the only family member that knows other than my mom. The medical staff found it hilarious, though.
As soon as she sobered up from the pain meds, she up and down denied that it ever happened and stuck to that story for the next decade.
32. Switched At Birth
I found out that the people I thought were my parents were actually my grandparents. My actual birth mother—the person I was raised to believe was my eldest sister—got pregnant at 14 and had me. She basically wasn't ready or prepared to raise me, so my grandparents adopted me and raised me as one of their own. They're my mom and dad and always will be.
I was around ten when I found out, and it all came out in the worst way. It was during a fight between my parents. There were drinks involved and a lot of shouting. I was trying to get them to calm down and stop screaming at each other when Dad let slip, "Well, why don't you go ask your real mother”? The way he said it was filled with venom and hurt. He left my mom and me to talk about it.
My mom told me the whole deal then. She mentioned that my sister wanted so little to do with me one night that she literally left me on the doorstep and walked right over me to go on a night out. Apparently, the rest of my mom’s family didn't approve of her taking me in, and for that and a few other reasons, we moved across the country for a fresh start.
We don't really talk to them anymore for unrelated reasons. My "sister" also had another kid, someone I thought was my nephew but is actually my half-brother. We were basically raised like brothers. We used to play with my action figures and create elaborate plots and characters that would go on for days. I know my birth father's name, but I don’t really have any desire to meet him. I'm told that he was a bit of a player and that I probably have a few more half-brothers all around the country.
33. Endo Wasn’t The End
When my health started doing poorly, I asked my mom if we had anything going on in the family related to the uterus, and she snapped at me, saying, "I don't know anyone that has any major pain because of periods, maybe it's just you". I was forced to move out not long after despite not being able to attend work regularly enough and having trouble with money because of it.
A year later, I learned from my aunt that she had endometriosis, and one of their sisters had fibromas. She also informed me about an aunt on my dad's side that also had a lot of problems with cysts and endo. The aunt I was talking to is very disliked by my dad because of her health problems; he's always seen her as pathetic and weak. That's why nobody helped me out.
I confronted my parents about it and was told that if I needed help so badly, I could go see my aunts. I was later forbidden to talk about my health in the family home because it would make my dad really angry. I'm still in a blind rage about it. I can't even explain why they didn't tell me.
34. The Mistakes Of Youth
I was the family secret. My biological parents started having kids as teenagers. When my biological mom found out she was pregnant with me, she was 21, and I was their fourth child. They quickly realized they needed to get their act together. They were already struggling financially, had countless substance issues, etc. So, they were forced to make a difficult decision.
They decided that they were going to put me up for adoption since I was a baby. I was adopted by a loving family quite quickly, who lived only about an hour's drive from the city I was born in. Coincidentally, I ended up returning to that same city for college. In my sophomore year, I decided to seek out my biological family. It turned out that my biological parents separated right after I was born.
My biological mom is still in and out of prison to this day, but my biological dad was able to start a new chapter. He got clean and sober, remarried, started going to church, and built a legitimate career for himself. He told his new wife about me when they first met but didn't tell any of his children. My other siblings didn't know I existed.
Thanks to the internet, I ended up tracking down his work number and gave him a call. Later on, he told me that as soon as I said, "Hi, this might be really weird, but", he knew it was me. Apparently, ever since I turned 18, he and his wife were waiting anxiously for me to resurface. They knew the day would come eventually. That evening, they sat my siblings down and told them about me. It was difficult at first, but now I'm 25, and he and I have a pretty solid relationship.
35. Penny Pincher’s Scavenger Hunt
Not necessarily life-changing, but my great grandfather had always been a penny pincher his whole life. He would do things like go with my great grandmother to go shopping, but he would sit at the front of the store and when it was time to check out, he would come up and pay to make sure everything was accounted for. We don’t know why because he grew up pretty well off.
We think he was just a stingy man regardless because he didn’t trust anyone with his money. He didn’t trust banks to hold his money. He had a checking account and was very strict about what went in, but he refused to have a savings account for fear that the bank might take his money.
So following his passing, it turned out that he had his money in different places around the house, but he hid clues in his journals about where it was. The journals covered almost 40 years and every single day no matter what happened.
My great uncle and his family ended up managing to find some of the money just by looking through the house, but they ended up having to use the journals when they weren’t sure. We’re fairly certain they finally found all of it, but who knows? But we had no clue that he was that concerned about somebody stealing money from him until after he passed.
36. Hidden Struggles
After my grandma passed on, I found out she had seasonal depression while going through her stuff. When I asked my mom about it, she confirmed and then told me that some days when it was bad weather outside, my grandma would burst out in tears while looking out of the window.
This still makes me so sad to think about—my adorable, happy grandma struggling and being sad. God, I miss her so much.
37. The Greatest Gift
My dad lost his life suddenly of a heart attack almost four years ago. A month after that, I found a journal he wrote to me when he found out my mom was pregnant. It’s titled “To my daughter”. Its contents destroyed me.
He wrote about the first time he felt me kick, choosing my name, what was going on in the world at the time, and how excited he was to be a father and to know me. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten.
38. The Truth Hit Me Hard
My cousin was born handicapped because my uncle hit the daylights out of his wife throughout her pregnancy. I was not aware that my uncle was so awful. I realized years after my cousin’s birth that her handicap was not "biological" and that my aunt didn’t have any fertility issues; she had miscarriages because of my uncle.
My mother hid all this from me because she knew that I would never talk to my uncle again and that I would tell the whole family the real truth.
39. She Was A Freak In The Sheets
One of my mom's cousins was committed to an asylum and sterilized. As a kid, I was told it was because she had some type of genetic malformation; hence her mother couldn't take care of her. As an adult, I discovered the real reason, and it was so much sadder than what I was told.
Her mother walked in on her daughter's college apartment to find her engaging in incredibly mild role-play—she was on a leash. That was all it took for her mother to completely destroy her future. I've never even met her or know what her face looks like, but I truly feel for her.
40. No Cause For Alarm
The night my dad “came home early from work and accidentally set the alarm off," my house was actually being broken into. My mother confronted the intruder while my father rushed home.
She put my siblings and me in the room with our older brother and told us she just wanted to make sure none of us were startled if the authorities were automatically called but to absolutely not leave the room.
41. They Put Education First
My parents forged my birth certificate and lied to me about my actual birth date until I was a teen. When I was close to kindergarten age, my parents found out that I was born two weeks too late to be able to attend kindergarten. I was born on September 15, and the cut-off was September 1. To them, this was unacceptable because they thought I was ready and another year of preschool and entering kindergarten at almost six would be too late.
They photocopied my birth certificate, covered the number five from 15 with Wite-Out, made a copy of the now fake birth certificate, and took it to a family friend who notarized it for a good sum of money. The elementary school had no clue it was a fake, so I got to start school early. From then on, they celebrated my birthday with me on the first in order to keep me from spilling the secret as a kid.
I didn't find out until I turned 15 and applied for my driver's license permit. Obviously, it's a crime to forge documents like this, especially for something like a driver's license, so on our way to the DMV, my mom rather anticlimactically handed me my paperwork and the real birth certificate and waited for my reaction. It was kind of a shock, and 16 years later, I still say a little happy birthday to myself on my now fake birthday.
As far as school goes, no one ever found out, and I ended up being home-schooled in high school anyway and getting my GED. I also found out by eavesdropping that my mom faked her knee surgery when I was 14 and actually got her bosom enlarged. She went from tiny to huge. It was the worst-kept secret. I had fun watching her pretend to limp with an Ace bandage on her knee when in actuality, it was her chest hurting.
42. Sacrilegious Secret
My very religious mom was three months pregnant when she got married. She never lied about it, I just didn't do the math right until I was about 20. She mentioned it was almost her 22nd anniversary, and I said, "You mean your 23rd", and she just said, "No....my 22nd". The "talk" my grandmother had with her went something like, "No one will want to marry you if you aren't a virgin".
She figured she was engaged, so that was a moot point. Her mom was mad and wouldn't talk to her for a while. Her dad, who was a Deacon, replied, "Well, you aren't the first, and you certainly won't be the last, so it is what it is".
43. The Second Time Around
My dad is my mom’s second husband. The first marriage was not necessarily hidden, it has just become forgotten and was never spoken about in front of my siblings or me. When I figured it out and asked my mother, she explained that she married rather young, following the Asian tradition of arranged marriages. Her in-laws were strict and demanding, which left her unhappy and wanting more in life than becoming a housewife. She divorced and started studying abroad, where she then met my dad. They’ve now been happily married for almost 21 years.
44. Rockstar’s Unrequited Love
In 2006 after my aunt passed, I found a letter addressed to my aunt from Kirk Hammett, the guitar player from Metallica. The family knew that they had had a relationship. My grandma had this pop-up crystal Japanese thing (that she herself broke accidentally) on the fireplace.
We went to see Metallica in 1997 and had backstage passes (I was 12), so we knew a relationship of some sort existed. But reading this letter, Kirk was in love with my aunt. He had written dates and phone numbers correlating, so she could know which to call.
I can’t remember the year the letter was written, but it was before cellphones. He had talked about how much he liked her. My aunt, though, had not shared the same feelings back.
45. Sneaky Grandma
I used to ask for copies of recipes of my favorites, but I could never make it taste right. I’d cook things with her that, when I did it without her helping, never tasted right. Always got the, “Oh don’t worry, it takes practice”. Thought I was just a terrible cook for years. But later, I found out the truth.
When clearing out her home after she passed recently, my dad found a secret stash of recipes very well hidden. Turns out all the “copies” she wrote for us were wrong, deliberately. I’m 43 and just started making these recipes again off her secret stash of recipes, and wouldn’t you know, I can make them so they taste the way they should.
46. Burn Granny, Burn
My grandma burned down the family home back in the 80s because my grandpa was a lush and a cheater. He sobered up and never cheated again. The few times the situation was talked about, my family said that it was supposedly an electrical fire. However, I heard them arguing one night when I was a kid.
My grandmother yelled, "I'll burn this house down too". My grandma is a savage.
47. Brothers For Life
My older brother might only be my half-brother. About ten or so years ago, I went out drinking with my dad for his birthday. He got hammered and told me that when he and my mom first got together, she was still in a relationship with a really terrible guy.
She got pregnant around the time that she left him, so there's about a 50/50 chance that my older brother is the other guy's biological son. I asked him if he had ever thought about getting tested to find out and he said, "No. I don't care what any test says. That is MY son".
He also got emotional at one point and told me he really regretted talking me out of going to school for what I originally wanted to do in favor of what I do now. Later on, he punched the glass out of a jukebox because he thought it would be funny. The whole night was a roller coaster.
The next day, he seemed to have no recollection of telling me that shocker about my brother, and I never brought it up again. I'll never tell my brother, and I'll never tell my parents that I know about it. As a side note, it would explain a lot. My brother and I don't even look related.
We always just shrugged our shoulders whenever friends asked us how we could be siblings when we looked so different. I feel the same way my dad does; he's my brother, not half-brother, no matter what any test might say. I'm at peace with the fact that I'll never really know for sure.
48. A Bad Investment
My dad has cheated on my mom with several different women over the years. They stayed married, as divorce was looked down upon in our culture. But the affair was actually crazy.
He would literally fly to a different part of the country "to see his investment property" every now and then, in reality, he was going to see his old secretary who lived in that house.
He built a house, and because she was struggling to get by financially, he "felt bad" and offered to let her live in it with her two kids from a different marriage. So, his secretary, who used to work for him, lived in one of his houses rent-free. That was the reality.
Then one day, when he was sloshed, he told me that when he passes, his will has the house split 50/50 between that lady and me. I didn’t even know how to react or respond other than realizing I would need a lawyer in the future as she and I don't get along.
49. Fallen Idol
My grandfather had an affair with an English woman back in 1941, when he went to study there, and fathered a daughter with her. Unfortunately, he showed his true colors when he left them both and came back home. Eighteen years after his passing, my aunt, grandmother, and mother found out about it after my aunt saw the daughter in a picture. They contacted her, and both parties shared their connection to my grandfather. She said he left her and the mother and didn't even try to contact them again. It was really sad because I looked up to my grandad, and this really dampened his image in my eyes.
50. Two-Sided Tale
The secret that was kept from me was that my biological father is really, truly, an amazing and upstanding guy. My mom always told me horrible things about him, like that he tried to off us, and then her brothers wanted to "take him into the woods". She also said that he left because he couldn't handle me and would get angry at me when I was learning to pull myself up on stuff.
She made him out to be a monster for not paying child support and for suddenly breaking contact when he remarried and had more children. Meanwhile, I bawled my eyes out every night for years because I wanted a dad and not the horrible person she married years later. I constantly asked why my letters to my real dad were never answered—she probably never sent them.
I grew up with a HUGE complex about not being wanted, which was made worse by my mother. She made it very clear that she thought I was the biggest mistake of her life, and she still says that to this day. She is the definition of a harmful parent. I always wanted to reach out to my dad but was too scared. I finally did and was thrilled. My mom kept prying, trying to find out what we were talking about because she knew she was being exposed.
I had to ask my maternal grandmother a few things to verify the accuracy since they were wildly different from what I was told growing up. It was only then that she laid out the whole grisly truth. Turns out my dad had desperately wanted to stay in my life. The man even offered to pay my mom's rent so he could live next door. He tried many times to contact me and sent me gifts that I never received.
My paternal grandmother was key in all of this. For whatever reason, my mother allowed me to stay in contact with her and fly out and visit her. There must have been some sort of agreement about keeping my father at a distance because he was never mentioned. Yet, in her will, she wrote that I got a certain amount of dollars from my father's portion of the inheritance.
She didn't write anything for any other grandchildren. The saint that she was, she was making one final attempt to reunite us. So, I flew out for my paternal grandmother's funeral and met my dad for the first time. His current wife and my aunt told me at every opportunity about how much he felt lost without me, how he had desperately wanted me in his life, and how he had repeatedly said that there was a giant hole in his heart without me.
They were able to say what we were too emotional to tell each other. My mom should have known that the sudden stop in child support and contact meant that something was seriously wrong. She should have reached out to learn what was happening. She probably did. He was stuck in a really rough situation when his then-wife was struggling mentally and wanted him to have nothing to do with me.
He used a secret account and payphones to be able to send what he did. He tried and went above and beyond. My maternal grandmother knew the situation. All this came to light when I was about 27–28. Now I know it all. It changes how I view some things. Unfortunately, my complex about being unwanted is very deeply rooted, and I still cannot function socially very well. As it turns out, I consider my dad's family to be where I belong. I wish I could erase my mother and keep the rest of her side of the family.
51. Secondary Button
After my cousin had a motorcycle accident, I cleaned out his apartment along with his brother. Nothing strange in particular, then went over to his computer to erase his history (as a bro should). Turns on. Linux OS. Encrypted. Asked for password. Then a loud bang just goes off.
The computer just dies. Turns out he’d set up the PC to self-destruct. I had failed to press some secondary button unknown to me. And there was a shell filled with pellets aimed at the hard drive, rigged to go off if the button wasn’t pressed. Obliterated the hard drive.
To this day, I wonder what he had on there to go to such lengths to keep hidden.
52. Genius Electrical Engineering
The smoke detector started beeping. It’s a very old one, like from the 1980s. I open it up. No battery, and a bundle of wires leading through the wall into the garage. I go into the garage and trace the wires.
They lead to a modern smoke detector in the garage, and a 12-volt battery. He had connected the old smoke detector’s beeper to the new one, so he could hear it inside if there was a fire in the garage. My grandfather was a retired electrical engineer. When I saw that, I just shook my head and said, “That crazy old engineer”. Genius move, but the work of a man with too much time on his hands.
53. A Semi-Truth
My wife and I were reminiscing about our childhood pets one day. When I shared how hard it was when my cherished dog had to be put down, she got to thinking. All of her childhood dogs were hit by semis. Normally, the thought of a dog getting loose and being run over by a semi-truck wasn’t that far-fetched, however, it had just clicked with her that her childhood home was in the countryside down a long gravel road.
The nearest highway was really far away. She decided that the next time she talked to her dad she would find out what really happened. After all, she was now an adult and could handle the truth that a seven-year-old couldn't. But the truth was darker than she ever imagined. Her dad just sort of smiled and said, "Oh honey, I never lied to you. Your childhood dogs were indeed hit by a semi...a semi-automatic".
54. Spam Of A Lifetime
I found out my dad was previously married before my mom, and that my brother and I had a half-sister. I found this out because my sister found me on MySpace. My mom claims she knew about the marriage but not the daughter from it. One day, I got a MySpace message asking some personal questions. I assumed it was spam and ignored it.
There was another message soon after that made me think it was an actual person and got me to pay attention. I politely told them to leave me alone. Then, the person messaging me said that she thought we might be related. I had to laugh because this was a good farce, in my opinion, and it really had me thinking. The problem was that the person was obviously Asian, but I was not.
Finally, after a few back-and-forth messages, this person asked to call me. I figured, "What do I have to lose? I can entertain myself for a bit at work and see how the deception plays out”. I figured she would just ask me to wire her money, but I was wrong. I got the call, and she knew my name, my brother's name, my mom's name, and most importantly, my estranged father's name. I never really spent time with my father, so this was surprising.
Her voice was really familiar, but I couldn’t place it. It turned out my father was in the Army overseas and met a local woman. They fell in love, he moved back to the US with her, got married, had a kid, and got divorced. The ex and her daughter moved back overseas, THEN he met my mom, and they did almost exactly the same thing, producing my brother and me.
However, he never told my mom anything other than he was married once before. We never knew about our sister and due to the divorces, we never really saw our mutual paternal family. My sister came back to the US and went to school here. Her family told her that she had two younger brothers in the city we lived in. Over time, when she started her own family, she wanted to know us and started using MySpace and Facebook to find us, eventually succeeding.
As if the shock of gaining a sibling during my break at work wasn't enough, she put me in touch with my paternal grandmother, with whom I hadn’t had any contact since I was a toddler. That same day, towards the end of my work shift, I called the number my sister gave me. An old woman with a southern accent answered the phone. I said "Hello," and introduced myself.
Before I could say anything else, she said, "I love you so much. I never stopped thinking about you and your brother, and I always prayed I would get this phone call". This whole episode was the beginning of my relationship with my sister, her extended family, and my paternal grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Despite the thousands of miles we live away from each other, we all share some strikingly similar personality traits, features, and mannerisms.
55. Tracing The Steps To Her Illness
My mom's youngest sister passed of epilepsy when she was 21—or so I always thought. On New Year’s Eve, however, my mom told my cousin and me how she became an epileptic. When she was around two-and-a-half, she fell down a flight of stairs. She missed every step except the bottom one. She had a gash going across her forehead, from temple to temple, and my grandfather butterfly-taped it shut.
The effects were instantaneous. She wasn't right in the head after that, and when she was 15, the epilepsy began coming through. My grandpa thought she was on dope, but she wasn’t. She was just sick. I also found out she had a kid somewhere along the line but gave it up for adoption.
56. A Tale Of Triumph
My great-grandma had dementia in her last years of life and completely forgot English. She would mumble and confess things in German, and eventually, my grandma and I learned some really dark stuff about her.
It took a lot of time and a German-to-English dictionary to decipher what she was saying. We found out that her oldest son's father lost his life during the battle of Stalingrad while she was pregnant with him. This was her first husband, and he passed in September 1942.
She then married his brother after giving birth to her first son. She soon became pregnant with her second child, a daughter. When husband number two went to fight for the Gestapo, he lost his life during the battle of Kursk in July of 1943.
Great-grandma then gave birth to her daughter and married her third husband—husband number one and number two’s cousin. She and her third husband were expecting child number three—my grandmother—when he went to fight in the battle of Hurtgen Forest.
He passed in November of 1944 and was her favorite husband, apparently. At that point, there were no men in the area who would marry her, as she was considered cursed.
With three children under the age of four in tow, my great-grandma managed to sneak into the United States, specifically Los Angeles, during the last few months of WWII. She never gave us complete details, but we figured she probably bribed, slept with, and somehow wormed her way out of all that nonsense.
Upon coming to the US in 1945, she married the man my grandma and her siblings thought was their dad. But this was no fairy tale either. It turned out he was majorly gay and paid my great-grandma to be his beard. He passed of congestive heart failure in 1960, and my great-grandma never remarried.
Somehow my grandma, great aunt, and great uncle all have birth certificates stating they were born in the United States and that husband number four was their father. We have no clue how great-grandma pulled that one off.
57. The Big Squeeze
My mom lied to a man and told him that I was his son. She frequently coerced money from him by telling him she needed it to raise me. I found out when he showed up with gifts shortly after I had moved out on my own. He had hired a private investigator to find me after my mom refused to give him my contact info.
He apologized for not being in my life and cried while telling me he was losing his life to pancreatic cancer and that he didn't want to go without meeting me. I asked my mom about it, and she told me she told him that so she could get money for illicit substances after she left my dad.
DNA tests confirmed that he was not my father; I tested myself against the man I knew to be my biological dad. I only ever met this man that one time. I took the gifts because it was such a surreal experience, and I didn't know how to tell him anything other than that I forgave him.
My mom is the only other person who knew this happened.
58. An Indiscretionary Tale
My dad had an affair with my mom’s childhood best friend. My mom knew about it, they had worked through it, and later had me. But there was something she didn't know.
Apparently, I also have a half-sibling that was placed for adoption. It is possible my father doesn’t know either. The half-sibling found me on Ancestry dot com. A few quick medical history exchanges and that was that. There was no further contact requested. I respect their position and plan to never tell my parents.
I was the sole winner of a major lottery and never told a soul. I lived somewhere where you could stay anonymous after a win, so I did. Nobody in my family knows. I didn't change my lifestyle or anything. I kept the same cars, bikes, etc. I just make sure my family is taken care of, especially my son.
They just think I'm good at business and investing. I keep multiple brokerages for different asset classes and just show them the small accounts if needed. I celebrate Christmas by donating to charities and hope to build a new school.
60. Religious Freedom
A great uncle of mine, who is now deceased, was involved in a high-stakes case that went to the Supreme Court level and made case law. It was later adapted into a plot line of The Sopranos. I learned of this when I was investigating my family history via Google in order to analyze their immigration history to claim Polish nationality so I could earn working and residence rights in Europe.
My great-uncle was an Orthodox Jew living in the United States. When he married his wife, they made a binding promise that in order to get a divorce, the couple must formally do it in a religious ceremony in a synagogue. If they didn’t, then under Jewish law, they aren't technically divorced, and neither party could remarry.
After 22 years, my great-uncle and his wife got a divorce in a civil court. However, he refused to go get the official religious divorce, leaving his wife in a state of marital limbo. His wife met a new man she wanted to marry but couldn't marry in a Jewish ceremony without it. My great uncle's wife sued him in order to compel him to get a religious divorce.
61. Hoping For A Happy Ending
My grandmother recently passed. At her wake, a woman I had never met or seen before showed up and spent a lot of time chatting with my uncle—the same uncle who, at 62, had never married. Ever since I was old enough to know what it was to be gay, I just assumed he was and was not open about it because of my grandmother. Obviously, this woman was just a close friend or something. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the heartwarming truth.
Turns out the woman was my uncle's first love. They had met many moons ago, he decided he loved her, and wanted to get married. He told my grandmother that, and she forbade it because the woman was Jewish and we were not, so he broke it off. More than 40 years later, they were still close—she never married either.
Not only is my uncle apparently not gay, but he also seems particularly good at holding a grudge. I'm no longer secretly hoping he has a boyfriend somewhere but that the two of them, who have been holding out this whole time, can finally be happy together.
62. Third-Party Adoption
I found out that my cousin is adopted, and her "mom" isn't even my uncle's first wife. My uncle couldn't have kids of his own, so his original wife left him. As a single man in Korea, he adopted his friend's sixth daughter because his friend didn't want another girl. He married another woman shortly before coming to America. We're all adults now, and this came out fairly recently when her "step-mom" got angry and, while ranting, alluded to the fact she was adopted. It was a pretty crazy revelation.
63. My Family Was Faking It
A few Christmases ago, I overheard my mom and aunts talking about how the family thought I was a problem child and had made the worst mistakes. I was about 23 or 24 at the time. In my eyes, my family had always been extremely supportive and loving toward me. So, it was a horrifying shock to hear that they all thought I was the worst of all seven kids and cousins.
I don't know if it was because I was extremely depressed around the age of 19 or if they just had high hopes for me that I didn't live up to. I am a relatively skilled artist and pretty smart, but I never finished college, and maybe they thought I'd be some bigwig by now or something, I don’t know. I am a happy, functioning adult in a nine-year relationship and have a job I actually love. I guess if that's not good enough for them then it's their problem. It definitely changed how I view my whole family, though.
64. Solid As A Rock
My great-grandpa isn't related to us. He met my great-grandma when she was a teen. She had been taken advantage of by a traveling salesman and became pregnant. As a result, her family tossed her out. My great-grandpa couldn't have kids due to his being tormented in a Japanese prison camp during WWII.
He married my great-grandmother and raised my grandma as his own. My great-grandma told me when she had dementia and forgot it was a secret. After I found out, I asked their daughter—my grandma—and she confirmed that she had known this to be true since she was a young adult.
Even though my great-grandpa wasn’t blood, he was the bedrock of our family.
65. Image Was Everything
My grandpa didn't want any of his grandchildren to know that he was behind bars for three or four years for fraud. The thing is, he was also a victim of the same. The guy he was doing business with used checks without funds and put all the machines in my grandpa’s name.
The other guy left no trace of his actions in the whole business, so then the entire mess fell on my grandpa. He didn't want us to know because he didn't want us to be aware that he had been locked up. He thought it would ruin the image we would have about him, even though he was innocent.
Even after knowing that postmortem, we still love him as much as we always did.
66. Her Flame Went Out
A great aunt on my mom's side supposedly passed from an unknown illness at age 25. I found her death certificate—and the cause of her demise made my blood run cold.
It listed the ingestion of kerosene as the cause. I learned from an older relative that this aunt had discovered she was pregnant and didn't want to be. She was a very vain person and was afraid the pregnancy would ruin her body and her looks.
She had heard from some idiot that drinking kerosene would cause an abortion, so that’s what she did.
67. Family History
Nobody had the details right, but my paternal great-grandfather took the life of the son of an officer in St. Louis in 1901 when he was just 17 years old. He ran away from home, ended up in Omaha, and changed his last name.
I ended up confirming all of this using Ancestry dotcom and Newspapers dotcom. They called it an accident, but he and his brother were troublemakers. Not only that, but street gangs were in abundance in 1901 in St Louis, one of which went after enforcement officers and their families.
There were a number of articles telling what had happened. He also lied and told family members that he was an officer. He never was; he was a security guard for a produce company. Furthermore, his mom more than likely had an affair with a neighbor boy, making my great-grandfather “illegitimate”.
Using census records from 1880, I was able to come to this possible conclusion. It’s all a mess, but I’m determined to get to the bottom of it.
68. Letting Her Shine
No terrible secrets or anything here, just a sweet story that tells what kind of person my grandpa was. A family friend stood up to speak about my grandfather at his funeral. His favorite story, he said, was the time the power went out during a storm and they had to use candles to see by. Now, my aunt had been gifted a candle-making set as a child and made many beautiful candles that she couldn’t wait to light.
But considering that the family lived in an ancient, rustic, very wooden farmhouse, Grandma would never allow my aunt to light the candles. However, one night during a storm, the power went out and with no other option, they had to light my aunt’s candles. She was so proud of herself. She went around for weeks afterward talking about how she’d saved the family.
The family friend looked over at her, tears streaming down her face with a big smile. Then he dropped a bombshell. “This was the kind of guy Bob was. Forty years later and he went to his grave without telling his daughter he turned the power off for her to get to light her candles".
69. The Truth Was In The Picture
I found out that my grandma was actually my step-grandma. When I was about 14, I was looking at an old picture of my father as a toddler with his mother and said, "Hmm, that doesn't look like grandma". My mother then told me that my dad's mother passed when she was in her forties. One would think maybe Dad would've brought that up at some point in my life, but he didn’t.
I wasn’t lacking for a grandma, so it didn't matter that she wasn't blood-related. But I really wouldn't mind knowing more about my biological grandmother. My dad barely remembers and never talks about her, so it’s a little frustrating.
70. Double Discovery
I have a half-brother from my dad, and I’ve known about him since I was five. He’s 15 years older than me and was from before my parents even met. However, I learned that there is a possibility that I may have two more siblings, also from my dad. I found out from my mom when I was 15. My dad had received a call from a woman he knew a long time ago, way before he met my mom.
She told him that her twins, who were now adults, were probably my father’s children. This turned into me learning that my father also has half-siblings and other “half-relatives”. My mom only told me because she was trying to make my father out to be a bad person to justify her two-year-long affair.
71. Grandma Almost Got Rid Of Me
My mom was almost forced to abort me by my grandmother. Apparently, while my mom was married to my dad, she cheated on him with his best friend after he had slept with a woman a state over. This also led to me having a sister I have never met and didn’t know about until I was 20. My mom got pregnant by the friend, and my grandmother took my mother to get an abortion.
Everything was then all hunky-dory for a couple of months. Then, things took a strange turn. My mom took this weird hiatus, and she was pregnant again. Everyone thought it was the best friend’s, even though she and my dad were together that whole time. But to Grandma, it was personal. She found out, was mad, and worried about what everyone in the community would think of her family.
She demanded my mother abort it. My dad stepped in to claim me after finding out. I was with my dad on a camping trip, and he told me all this. It turned out my brother knew for years beforehand. My mom told him about it and asked him not to mention it. We were both also raised by our grandparents, so it made Thanksgiving very awkward.
72. Like Looking In A Mirror
When I was 59, my parents visited. My mother couldn't get it out, so my dad explained that she had run off with an older school teacher when she was 15, been the subject of a large and well-publicized search, and eventually returned pregnant. Her daughter was adopted and never spoken of. I believe my dad knew since he's known her since she was three.
This all came up because my half-sister found them! It was pretty amazing. We get along well and like many of the same things. Looking at my mother and half-sister next to each other is astounding. Their movements, clothing choices, hobbies, many aspects of speech, and something fundamental but hard to describe, are all essentially identical!
73. He Was Rockin’ At The Casbah
Before my maternal grandfather passed, he told me that he had fallen in love with a woman in Morocco while he was stationed there. He considered going AWOL so that he could stay with her, but the threat of being thrown behind bars persuaded him to come home.
So, I’m apparently the only person in my family aware that he had an affair while overseas. Knowing that weighs heavily upon me at times. I guess I may have some family somewhere in Morocco.
74. Secret Sister
My dad had a daughter before I was born and never admitted it to anyone in the family. He was basically on his last legs when he admitted it to me. I was able to track down my half-sister a few years back, and we were able to meet.
However, she was very emotional about the whole thing, and she ended up backing out at the last minute. I have since left her alone.
75. Preserving A Memory
A cousin of mine lost his life in a motorcycle accident. He was a loving dad to two children. I was asked to hack into his computer because his grieving widow could not access pictures and emails. I found a secret email account. He'd been using it to message his mistress.
This was five days after his passing, and his inbox was filled with messages saying, “Are you ok? What is going on"? She was unaware of his passing. So, I wrote her an email explaining with a link to the obituary and newspaper article. She came to the funeral but didn't say anything. She introduced herself as a co-worker.
I removed all evidence from the computer before giving it back to the widow to preserve the memory of this guy to his wife and kids.
76. Secret Society Shakedown
My great-uncle essentially ran a secret society in my hometown for many years with his “friends” and even some of my family members. They would take advantage of a lot of people and run away with the money they managed to make.
This went on for many years until the government came looking for money that he owed when he took out a loan to build a massive bar and grill. From there, the whole thing came crashing down. To add insult to injury, my grandfather—his brother—was the acting Mayor at the time and had no knowledge of this.
To say that stuff “hit the fan” would be the understatement of the century.
77. Lost In Translation
I found out my cousin's dad isn't really his dad, but he doesn't know. It was news to me when we took a trip to Mexico, and his mom kept his passport away from him the whole time. During that trip, all the cousins were passing together through immigration and customs, and my aunt gave me his passport to hold. She told me not to give it to him or show it to him.
When I saw it, his last name wasn't his dad's last name, which I always thought it was! I told my sister and other cousins about it, and they apparently already knew this. My mom told me not to tell my cousin about it. I was the last of the cousins to find out. The poor guy adamantly believes his current dad is his biological father.
I can only assume that his mom refused to teach him or let him learn English so he wouldn't learn the truth. He is 30-something years old, and whenever he wants to open up a credit card or bank account, his mother has to go with him to "translate" his paperwork.
78. Dad Got Around
My dad cheated on my mom multiple times. He was even living a double life with a girlfriend in a different state. I found out about his philandering ways when I was 16. It was around 1am, and the authorities called my house. They didn't bother to ask for my mom, but they did inform me that my dad had been taken into custody that night for soliciting a hooker. Years later, after my mom passed on, my dad admitted to his double life but still maintains his innocence for the night mentioned.
79. Unidentified Family Offspring
I was the oldest of three kids, or so I thought. At my grandma’s funeral, when I was 30, I met a nice woman who had grown up on my grandma’s street. She was fawning all over me and talking about how beautiful I was and such. I mentioned her to my mom later, saying, “Nice lady....a little weird”. My mom then thought it was as good a time as any to tell me that the woman was the mother of my older half-sister.
Apparently, my dad got the girl down the street pregnant when they were 16. They were from Catholic families, so they made a heart-wrenching decision to put the baby up for adoption at birth. It apparently ruined this woman’s life. She’s been trying to track down the child on adoption sites and celebrates her birthday every year without any luck. It is truly crazy to know you have an unidentified family member out there. I hope to somehow meet her someday.
80. It Was A Setup
I found out several years ago that my grandfather was set up to be held up and was murdered. This was in the late 70s on the Lower East Side. It was my aunt’s sister who set him up. He used to run numbers in the bars on the LES, and she knew he’d have a bunch of dough on him. He was stabbed and later passed from the wounds. He blasted one of the assailants during the incident. My aunt went full bipolar, and during a routine family event four years ago, she told me everything.
81. Love Child
My dad had a “kid sister”. She lived with and took care of my grandmother until her passing. Many years later, I found out that she was actually the child of my grandfather and a young woman he had met at a bar.
The young woman later married my uncle and rehabilitated her image by becoming a church lady. It made me respect my grandmother so much more. My grandfather left her alone with six children, yet she took in his “love child” and raised and loved her as her own.
82. Way Off Target
My grandfather owned a B-25 plane and shelled Haiti in 1968. The CIA hired him and was supposed to hit the Head of State’s house. The only problem was that he missed and dropped the missiles on the Head of State’s parent’s house. Oh, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
He also proceeded to land, break into multiple banks, and fly back to turn in the money, which at the time only amounted to $8K.
83. Patriot Games
My maternal great-uncle worked for the Canadian department of defense during the Cold War and passed from a "heart attack" while stationed in Germany. When my mom told me this, I pointed out that it was very possible that he had a hit put on him because it actually isn't that hard to make it look like someone passed from a heart condition.
My mom dismissed the idea pretty quickly. My grandmother was a nurse at the time and went to ID the body because her sister didn't have the strength to. In private, I brought up my theory and asked her what she thought. She didn't say anything, just nodded, but she gave me this really knowing look.
His passing wasn’t really talked about in the family, but I found out at my grandfather's memorial that I'm the only one, besides my grandmother, who knew his secret.
My paternal great-grandmother was taken advantage of in Belarus, her home country, and became pregnant with her assailant’s baby when she came to Canada. So, my great-uncle was, in reality, my grandfather's half-brother, and his biological father was some dirtbag in the Russian army.
His mom told my great-uncle, and he told me when he was on his last legs. I don't know if anyone else knew, but if they did, they never said anything. When my paternal great-grandparents came to Canada, they were put into internment camps.
I only found out because my great-aunt got sloshed and went on a rant about how the Canadian government wants everyone to forget about residential schools and various kinds of internment camps they ran and supported.
84. Out Of The Picture
My step-father’s great-grandfather and uncles were part of the Gestapo and escaped Germany to the US before the end of WWII. But we found out in an upsetting way.
We uncovered a black and white photo album of them together in their SS uniforms, with many pages of photos from around Germany and France. It was found after the passing of one of my great-uncles. One of my aunts was so mortified she snatched the album, and now no one will talk about it.
85. My Cousin Spilled The Beans
I have an enormous family and live in a decent, average-sized city. My cousins and my nieces, who are my age, and I all ended up at the same private school, which was small. When I was 13, I was at dinner with my nieces and family, and one of them told me one of our cousins was talking about me and spreading rumors. Turns out my niece revealed a shocking secret: I was adopted.
I went home and told my mom about it. She denied it, and we never spoke of it again. I eventually started to learn about genetics in my 8th grade class and started asking my parents questions about the way I looked. Some months later, my mom was pretty hammered. It was just her and me at the house, and my dad was gone.
She came into my room and confessed to me that I was adopted. I have five siblings, and all the people old enough to have remembered my adoption were told not to tell me. My parents wanted to tell me together when I was 18. However, this cousin’s family and mine had a lot of drama. I have my theories as to why my cousin, who would not have been old enough to remember my adoption, was eventually told.
86. Russian Revelation
I was recently let in on a shocking family secret. After my paternal grandfather was released from Siberia circa 1953, he couldn't find his family. They had moved to Poland 11 years earlier when he was placed under arrest. So, he met someone else, and they had a daughter. Months later, he found my grandmother. She then went to Russia and convinced my grandfather to leave this woman and baby daughter and come back with her to THEIR three children.
He did and never heard from the other family again. Nobody ever mentioned this to any of us until last year, when my father casually mentioned it as an, “Oh, yeah, by the way, you might have a half-aunt living somewhere in Russia”.
87. Filet Of Fishiness
When I was a kid, we went to California on a vacation. My father's company paid for us to stay at the Ritz Carlton. I was probably about eight or nine years old, and they sent me on a deep sea fishing trip for the day, and I caught a fish. We brought the fish back to the hotel, and because the Ritz Carlton is such a high-class hotel, they offered to filet the fish and bring it up to my room via room service, which they did.
Thirty years later, I found out that the fish I caught was no good, and they just used one from the hotel. What makes the story funny is that every few years, I would bring up how cool the hotel was on the vacation to filet my fish, and my family just kept this story going.
88. Double Dealings
My great-grandfather led a double life—he had two families. He kept them apart, and neither knew about the other. Both families lived on the same street, had the same number of members, and all of the members had the same names. He kept this up until he passed, and then everything came unraveled. My half-family was surprised when my relatively well-off great-grandfather bequeathed everything he owned to another family with the same name.
Even today, the disparity between the two families is clear in terms of social and economic wealth. The other side has been bitter about it for generations, and rightly so. My grandmother had kept relatively quiet about it until someone in our family started digging through Ancestry.com. After many interesting stories, both sides agreed to meet again a few years ago. We are now in touch fairly regularly.
89. The Truth Came Out
I was about 15 when I realized that my grandfather was gay and that he wasn't allowed to discuss or reveal this to my siblings or me. The thing about this situation was that he wasn't really great at hiding it. I was just that oblivious and believed the excuses my parents made. He used to volunteer at a theater, which explained what my parents dubbed his "Halloween" closet.
In reality, Grandad was into drag. He worked at a health clinic helping HIV/AIDS patients, which totally explained the books on his bookshelf, like Men on Men. I figured the books helped him relate to his patients or something. Then there was the giant two and half-meter (eight-foot) painting of a shirtless fireman over his bed. I actually don't remember how I explained away that one.
One day, my boyfriend mentioned something offhand about my grandfather being gay, and it was like a lightbulb the size of the sun went off—the rainbow bumper stickers, the books, the fireman painting. He passed a decade or so ago, and I wish I'd been closer to him. He did a lot of really amazing things for the gay community that he lived in, and I didn't even know about most of it until after he was gone.
90. He Kept On Truckin’
My uncle was married about eight times and had two kids. However, after he passed, we found out that, apparently, he had seven kids from different relationships we didn't even know about.
He was a truck driver in the 90s and drove all over the US. He had affairs with different women in other states. We found out about the other kids from Ancestry, and I have since met a couple of them.
91. Grandma Spilled The Beans
My grandmother on my dad’s side became pregnant when she was 15 years old, years before my dad was born. She got a back-alley abortion because my great-grandfather would have made her keep it for sure. She told me when she got REALLY tipsy a few years back. My aunt and I are the only ones that know; even my dad doesn’t.
92. No Escaping The Truth
When my grandmother was 16 years old, my grandfather bought her from her mother. She escaped once, and my great-grandmother came back to live with them to ensure that she would never escape again. My grandfather was 30 years older than my grandmother, and he had a whole other family that lived in a different country.
93. All In The Family
I found out that my grandmother used to be my dad’s wife before she was my grandmother. My father’s mother, my true grandmother, passed when my father was 21. My grandfather never remarried. My father married a woman named Robin and had two children—Jason and Clay. My father and Robin divorced shortly after Jason was born.
Soon after their divorce, my grandfather married my dad’s ex-wife, Robin. Nobody spoke of this until my grandfather passed, and my two half-brothers showed up at the funeral. It was weird to find out I had 49 and 46-year-old brothers. Thank God Robin and my grandfather never had children, otherwise I’d have a tough time finding birthday and holiday cards, specifically for Bruncles and/or Auntsters.
94. Cleaned Out
While we were giving her last rites at the hospice, I discovered that my grandmother's house wasn't looted by strangers. It was my crazy estranged aunt, who everyone assumed was still locked up at a mental facility. She took everything—jewelry, heirlooms, handmade cedar trunks full of handmade quilts, my grandfather's medals, cash, savings bonds, the will, the safe, toilet paper, and the light fixtures.
The absolute worst part was that she had everything hoarded into her rental apartment, had a psychotic break, doused the entire house in gasoline, threw a Zippo down the stairs, and climbed in bed. Obviously, that made for a deadly situation. The fire department rescued her by cutting the window out of the second story. All six trunks—one for each of the children—were destroyed.
The entire complex of about six apartments was a total loss. They didn't know she had everything until the Marshall contacted my mother. Thousands of dollars and priceless heirlooms were just gone because of one woman's crazy selfishness. My grandmother had written her out of the will years prior for attempting to poison her.
That's the reason I never saw her after I was about six. I didn't find out until my oldest cousin, who knew Grandma had left us all cash boxes, asked me if I ever received mine. I said "no", and she said, "Well, you can thank Aunt Crazy again for that one".
95. Paranoia Will Destroy Ya
My mom lied about how my dad passed. My brother and I were told he had lost his life to cancer. He wrote us each a letter stating his goodbyes, and I still have mine. When I turned 18, the horrifying truth came out.
He lost his life in a murder-suicide with his wife—my stepmom—and her lover, who was also his psychiatrist. It turned out his wife was cheating on him with his doctor. My dad had manic bipolar depression. He was prone to extreme anxiety and paranoia when he was off the correct medication.
The doctor purposely prescribed him medication that worsened his paranoia. My stepmom was the one who initially had the idea about the doctor prescribing the medication in the first place. When he found out about the affair and all the evidence, his already broken mind completely snapped.
He blasted them both and then himself.
96. No Show
My wife's grandmother, who raised her, believed that when you are about to die your deceased relatives show up to bring you to heaven. She was by all accounts a horrible person. On her deathbed her last words were, in a quiet terrified voice, "They're not coming".
97. A Chilling Letter
I am currently cleaning out the attic and getting the house ready to sell due to divorce after 40 years of marriage (my husband cheated…twice). I found a box of his things from before we met: school report cards, boy scout memorabilia, Archie comics…and something so horrifying I’ll never forget it. I picked up a handwritten letter from his older sister. I wish I’d never read it.
The letter detailed her intimate relationship with my husband and his best friend throughout his high school years. She wrote that she wanted him to think of her every time he was with another woman. And now her lack of warmth towards me throughout our marriage makes more sense.
98. Pinball Is A Full Contact Sport
My grandfather lost his life in a bar when my father was still a toddler. The official story was that he was attacked over a pinball game. Back then, pinball was taken pretty seriously, I guess. It wasn't until recently that my grandmother made a shocking deathbed confession. She told us that my grandfather had actually taken someone else’s life and buried the body, days before his own demise.
So he was actually targeted in retaliation for a terrible thing that he had committed. Pinball was just the excuse. My grandmother kept this secret for almost 65 years.
99. On The Hunt
When I was young, somewhere between the ages of eight and 12, my parents told me that my uncle had been in a hunting accident. Apparently, my uncle had been out deer hunting, and on his way to the deer blind, he had to climb over a chest-high barbed wire fence.
When he did, the piece that he had holstered on his hip was somehow snagged, and it fired a round through his foot. He ended up having to have multiple surgeries and now walks with a cane. It sounded like a slim chance sort of situation, but this is what I was told and what most of my family believed. The truth, however, was much darker.
It just came to light that he was actually targeted by a dealer. Apparently, my uncle hadn't been paying up, and he had had a serious problem that had been going on for 15 years.
100. Who Knew?
When I was a kid, I remember my dad reading me The Grinch after I begged him to, and he fell asleep in bed next to me. The next day, my mom said he was in the hospital, and he had been there for a little while. I remember visiting him and asking why he wasn’t home. It wasn't till I was in my teens that I realized the horrifying truth of that night. My dad had taken sleeping pills that night and had almost lost his life in the bed beside me when my mom found him unresponsive. He survived, but the knowledge that I could have woken up to my deceased father has always stuck with me.
101. She’s Alive!
I grew up with an older brother and sister. I was the baby by quite a few years. I loved them both but always got along with my brother better. Around the time my sister had gone to college and my brother was heading off to college, I stopped getting visits from him and nobody would talk about him. No matter how much I asked, neither my parents nor my sister would talk about it.
All his pictures were taken down, and my extended family knew nothing. I honestly thought he was no longer alive or my parents had chopped him up into pieces and hid him in the floorboards. The brutal truth made me see my parents in a whole new light. It turned out that my brother is transgender and was now my sister. It took until I was about 17 or 18 for my parents to finally tell me.
My other sister still won't talk about it. I'm just so happy she's alive, well, and actually happy now. We get to see each other more often, and we're even closer now. I don't know if I'll ever forgive my family for hiding it from me. I never got the choice to be there for her or for her to be there for me. I still can't believe they did that to her.
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