It’s always a shock to find out a secret about someone you trust—but it’s even worse when it involves a family member. While some family secrets can turn out to be hilarious, others have the potential to tear entire families apart. These Redditors share their deepest family secrets, from suspected serial killers, bootleggers, and gang involvement to secret siblings, clandestine love stories, and margarine smuggling. In these cases, truth is often stranger than fiction.
1. Sister Swap
I found out that one of my Aunts had an arranged marriage. She wasn’t actually the aunt who was supposed to be in the arranged marriage, but her sister was adamantly against marrying the guy. I guess my grandma somehow persuaded my aunt into replacing her sister’s part of the marriage. My aunt and the guy got married, moved away, and had kids.
They lived far away so I barely ever saw them. Only as I got older did I learn that the dude was abusive to my aunt, to the point where she still had some intense mental breakdowns long after he was gone. I guess her sister was right.
2. Ancient History
My grandpa doesn’t know that his dad was hit and killed by a drunk driver. He was only two when his dad passed, and can’t remember any of it. The only thing he said he knew was that he thought it involved a truck. I found the newspaper article about my great-grandfather’s passing when I started digging into my grandpa’s family tree.
I also found that great-grandpa was the result of a teen pregnancy and was raised by his grandparents. I’d tell my grandpa, but I’m not really sure there’s too much point in bringing it up now.
3. Dark Deeds
My Uncle Joseph is very probably a serial killer. He was a major suspect for the West Mesa Bone Collector. He has also been convicted of even worse crimes. One day, Uncle Joseph was just sort of out of the picture and no concrete explanation was given. At the time, I was young enough that I didn’t think to particularly wonder about the details.
4. Scandalous Great Grandma
Great grandma ran a “hotel” in the late 1800s near a train depot and army fort in the Oklahoma territory. Turns out it was a brothel. Great grandma was a madam! She must have been good at it, because she left a lot of money to my grandma.
5. Secret Sister
When I was a kid, I knew my grandfather was odd. He’d call me his grandson even when I was wearing a dress and clearly female, but my parents would tell me to ignore it. Then I found out that when my dad was a kid, grandpa had sold my dad’s sister Barbara to someone, and kept my dad and his brother because he didn’t want a girl in the family.
My dad found his sister Barbara around the time I was in middle school, through making some calls and getting access to records. They were reunited, and she’s my favorite aunt now. No one liked grandpa.
6. Baby In The Cupboard
My dad tried to run out on my mum while she was pregnant with me, because he’d been embezzling money from a photography club at his workplace (a government institution) where he’d been treasurer. It was all about to come out because the club needed the money, so my dad decided to cut and run. My mother’s brother and father caught him by pure accident as he was leaving the house, and my grandad, a burly Scottish coal miner, got him by the throat and told him if he ever pulled a stunt like that again, he’d be dead.
My dad, according to the story, wet himself right there. My grandad paid the money back to the club so that no one found out, as not only would my dad have lost his job, he’d most likely have been jailed too. My mum could never trust him with money again, and so although they had a joint bank account, she had them limit his access and made a separate account to control the bills etc.
She went back to work so she could always support herself, which in those days, in rural Scotland, was really uncommon. In that area, most women were stay-at-home moms, so there was no such thing as childcare for kids under four. Mum went back to her job as a primary school teacher and I spent the first few years of my life sleeping in a basket in the stationery cupboard in her classroom.
At mum’s funeral, some of her former colleagues were still coming up to me, saying, “Oh, it’s the baby in the cupboard!”
I’m not sure how my dad discovered this, but he found out he had a secret older brother, his parents’ oldest child (Ron, if I remember right, named after his dad). When Ron was preschool-aged, my grandparents were told he was mentally disabled. Horrified, they turned him over to the state and never spoke of him again.
Years later, they learned the truth. Word got back to them that the kid was not, in fact, disabled; he had “auditory dyslexia”(now called auditory processing disorder). He grew up to be a fully functioning, independent adult. He refused to have any contact with the family when my dad reached out. I don’t blame him at all.
8. When Forgiveness Doesn’t Seem Like a Good Idea
When they were grown, my dad and his younger brother learned that their father had assaulted their sister on multiple occasions and threatened her to keep her quiet. She didn’t tell anyone until long after it all happened. Later, she reconnected with her father…and allowed him to meet and spend time with her children. She’s more forgiving than I am.
My uncle met his wife during the time he was using drugs pretty heavily. She was a prostitute. They have two kids now and they’re great parents, nobody would ever guess that they have a rather dark past. They haven’t let it visibly affect them at all.
10. Long-Lost Son
I was the family secret. My biological parents started having kids as teenagers. For context, 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 drug issues, etc. They decided that they were going to put me up for adoption when I was a baby.
A loving family adopted me quite quickly, and we 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. During my sophomore year, I decided to seek out my biological family. It turns out that my biological parents separated right after I was born. My biological mom is still in and out of jail 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 said 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.
11. Unknown Twins
My dad was discharged from the military for going AWOL. He had found out his ex from when he was around 15 had had his children back then and had never told him about it. I have two siblings who are twins. I don’t know their names or what they look like, but they’re out there somewhere, and they’re only three years older than me.
12. Dark Secret
I always thought that my paternal grandfather, from Denmark, was one of three boys born to my great-grandparents. However, I found out that there was a fourth brother that no one would talk about. Eventually, I learned the chilling reason why. It turns out that he was killed in WWII by his own men when they found out he was actually a German sympathizer who’d been trying to act as an agent provocateur.
He woke up one day, was greeted with an armed escort, taken out to a tree line, and shot until they ran out of ammunition. They didn’t bury him or bring his body back. The family got a short letter from the army saying he was KIA, then a family friend who was in the army and in the know sent a letter filling in a few details, just enough so they knew why they weren’t getting a body to bury.
His name was never spoken again until my grandfather was in his 90s and starting to mentally slip away.
My grandfather tried to kill my dad with an axe. He literally showed up to his place of work and went looking to cut him down. Somehow, my unprepared dad fought him off with his bare hands. Grandpa escaped—but the nightmare wasn’t over. He came back the next day to finish the job with a gun, but my dad didn’t show up to work, so my grandfather turned the gun on himself in the parking lot.
I still can’t completely grasp that this story, and the circus of insanity that surrounded it, were real.
14. Letting the Past Lie
My great aunt and uncle had a baby when they were still in the dating phase. They were in love, and getting married was a sure thing down the line. However, coming from a very conservative society in the Middle East back in the 50s, they had to give the child away to an orphanage. Once that was done, they got married and eventually had four other children.
That first child grew up knowing his origins, but was only allowed minimal contact with his family. He still isn’t invited to family events, and has a family of his own. When my great uncle passed away, I was told he was amongst the mourners who came to the cemetery to pay respects, but none of my cousins including myself know what he looks like. My dad and his siblings and cousins all do, but they did not introduce him to us.
It’s sad how he’s punished for something that isn’t his fault.
15. Great-Grandparent Histories
On my mum’s side, my great-great-grandfather killed his brother’s wife. Apparently it caused a rift in the family, because some relatives believed he did it (he did), and others thought someone else had killed her. I also know that my great-grandmother was in Poland during WWII and came home one day to find her entire family just gone.
They were rounded up and sent to camps while she was out. She survived by working as a maid in Austria. After V-Day, she and some of her family that had survived ended up working on the anti-communist black market selling meat and underwear.
16. When Bachelor Parties Get Out Of Hand
My one cool uncle, who came to our house every Christmas and Thanksgiving, was always really great and pleasant. He had a bunch of cats and dogs at his house and got married to my aunt shortly before I was born. One day, my mom and I went to visit him and my aunt at their house, and there was this girl there. I think she was a year older than me, so about 15.
My mom and I asked who the girl was, and my uncle said, “Well…I just found out a few days ago that I have a daughter, so…I guess this is your cousin!” It was crazy, but then we learned the story of how she was born, and my jaw straight-up dropped. It turns out that before my uncle and aunt got married, my uncle had a pretty wild bachelor party in which a prostitute was hired…one thing led to another, and my cousin appeared 15 years later to find her father.
She was so sweet, and my uncle was actually really good about the whole situation. He even started paying child support to my cousin’s mom, his idea. My aunt was also very forgiving. I’ve never met my cousin’s mom.
17. Meddling Grandmother
My uncle got his high school girlfriend pregnant, and my grandmother drove her to the clinic for an abortion, agreeing to pay only if the girlfriend didn’t tell my uncle that she was going to abort his child. It tore him up when he found out, but that hardly excuses his next actions. My father got my mother pregnant around that time as well, and she was also (not too discretely) offered the same deal by my grandmother. My mother refused with a few choice words.
My uncle found out, tracked my mother down, and punched her in the stomach for “daring to take what was ripped away from him.” My mother subsequently miscarried who would have been my big brother. My mom, the saint that she is, forgave him and tried to help him get some therapy. He rejected her help and joined the army instead.
I didn’t find out any of this until I was an adult, which really messed with my head since my uncle had always been really close to me, right up until I came out of the closet. I think he somehow thought of me as the daughter his mother had forced his girlfriend to abort.
18. Why Didn’t He Just Pay The Tickets?
My uncle was in prison for arson and burglary for 15 years, but growing up, I was always told that he was just in jail for “not paying tickets.”
19. Valuable Discovery
We have a set of plates that our family uses ONLY on Easter. My mom always fusses about how they are great-grandmother’s pre-WWI family heirlooms. As someone who is interested in this kind of stuff, I looked up the maker’s mark and found out they were 1940s kitsch, at best. I haven’t told anyone about my discovery, because I have my eyes on another set of china, and I want to seem magnanimous when I “compromise” with my sister to have the good china.
20. Rapacious Randy
My family could have been worth millions. My great-grandfather had built a company from the ground up called Johnson Corrugated. They made corrugated cardboard for shipping boxes. Great-grandfather wasn’t very nice, but he did build the family empire, so we still see him in a good way. My grandfather was supposed to inherit the company 30 something years ago…until Uncle Randy happened.
My great-grandmother was still alive after her husband passed, and so she was technically the owner of the company. She was also blind and deaf. Uncle Randy visited her, impersonated my grandfather, and had her sign away the entire company over to him. He gave half of the $15 million to his son, who fled to Europe after death threats. Uncle Randy passed within a month after fleeing the family, from cancer. Nobody went to his funeral.
My grandpa is now 80 and can’t retire because he’s been fighting this in court for the past 20 years and owes about $300,000 in legal fees. I found this out after stumbling onto a stack of legal documents in my grandpa’s attic. We still don’t know where Randy’s son is, to this day.
21. When Grown Men Take Dares
Growing up, I always noticed an odd tension between my dad and my aunt. Any time we’d have get-togethers, she would try her best to distance herself from him. Fast forward to age 12: I went to have a sleepover with my cousin (I did so frequently) and my aunt had to work. So, being a couple of bored kids, we started snooping around where we shouldn’t have been.
I went into her bedroom and started to sift through all her stuff, and after some digging, I found what turned out to be a suicide note. In it, she described how she couldn’t handle the trauma my father had caused her. Me, being confused and concerned, brought the note to my mom, who then brought it to my grandma, who then confronted my aunt. The truth was devastating.
It turns out that my dad had assaulted her several years ago, and in addition, gave her HIV and Hepatitis B. My mom and dad had been divorced for about three years by that time. After discovering this, my grandma and mom confronted my dad. They then learned that he had intentionally given himself HIV because he was dared to by one of his drug-addicted friends.
22. An Amazing Woman
My grandmother had a sister who passed in the 60s. She was never married, and she was a nurse in the army in WWII. When my grandmother turned 100, we were looking at old albums together, chatting, and she was telling me old stories. I went up on a chair to get another album for her, and I found a little book at the back of the closet. It had pictures of my father’s aunt in an army aircraft, a fighter plane, and of a few other people. On one page, there were written just a few words: “Yours, for all eternity.”
My Gran absolutely panicked when I was holding that book. She said that nobody had ever seen it, and that she had promised to take it to her grave. She then told me that she believed that her sister had met someone in the war (man or woman, we don’t know), and that he or she was killed. My aunt decided that she would never fall in love again.
I never told anyone before a few weeks ago, when my father asked if there was anything missing from Gran’s house that I would have wanted. The book has gone, because nobody thought it was important when the house was cleaned out. And I really think my Gran would have been happy about that. She lived to 102, having survived WWI and II. She’s my hero.
23. Dark Father
I was always told that my dad left me when I was born, and technically that’s true, but I was told my dad was someone completely different. I got a little suspicious about the whole thing because my cousin, who apparently didn’t know the whole cover story, told me that my dad had blonde hair and my mother had black hair, and that’s where I got my black hair. Strangely, everyone else told me my dad had black hair.
When I had to use my birth certificate so I could join the military, more evidence surfaced, and the mystery deepened: the name of my father said Alexander Smith. My last name is Smith, but my family told me that I got my name from a baby book, so that’s why my last name was different from everyone else’s in my family. I then spent a couple of days doing research on Alexander Smith.
He was born in Russia and changed his name when he got here, and I’m 70% Russian so that makes sense. What really sold it for me was that it said his mother’s name was Natasha Kelovich—which was my grandmother’s name. I confronted my family about it and they revealed that he was my dad, and they told me what had really happened. To put it bluntly: after I was born, he decided he didn’t want any kids, so he tried to smother me in my sleep.
Luckily, my brother and my uncle stopped him, and he fled. They called the police, but they didn’t find him fast enough. He returned in the middle of the night and set fire to our house, killed our family dog, and killed an old lady in the process when the fire jumped to another house. After that, he was sent to prison for life, never saw the outside again.
They said they wanted to keep it a secret so that I didn’t know my dad was a psychopath who tried to kill me. They were planning on telling me through a letter when I joined the military, but I figured that out before-hand.
24. Clandestine Vacation
When I was three years old, mom and her mother took a month-long vacation together. That was the only trip the two of them ever took just by themselves. It was also the only time my grandmother took a vacation without her husband. Dad’s parents looked after me in the meantime. The day mom returned, she handed me a pair of maracas.
She and her mother told everyone they had been to Spain, but they didn’t bring back any pictures or tell any stories about it. In contrast, grandma was full of snapshots and anecdotes about her other travels. When I was around eight years old and asked mom about Spain, she quoted old movies: right out of My Fair Lady, she answered, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”
She never showed me a passport stamp. For all I know, she never even had a passport. When I was in college mom claimed that she had never traveled overseas. When I reminded her about that month in Spain, she fell silent. Apparently she had been hoping I’d forgotten. There had been other hints that something was off.
During childhood, she tried to donate those maracas to charity a couple of times. I insisted on keeping them, but they disappeared when I was ten or eleven. Shortly before they vanished, she saw me playing with them and told me they weren’t really maracas. This started an exchange where I asked her what the correct term was, and why she had always called them maracas until then. She gave a couple of evasive responses before falling silent.
None of this added up until decades later, when I finally made a dark realization. I realized her trip to Spain took place shortly before abortion was legalized where we were living, and that something like 30% of women in the United States have had an abortion. My best guess is that she and her mother either drove to Canada or flew to the UK and spent the month shuttling between medical clinics and a hotel room.
Mom, dad, and I had been living in a one-bedroom apartment at the time. Mom and grandma probably decided she couldn’t afford a second child. Dad never guessed a thing. Incidentally, my mother is a lifelong Republican who’s also adamantly pro-choice. Mom never had substance abuse problems, and her marriage was going well, so mental health treatment doesn’t seem likely either.
Although she and dad were on a tight budget, a month-long trip was no stretch for my grandma; she and my grandpa were country club people. My mother has never been a reliable narrator, and her mother has long since passed away. The big tipoff is my mother’s adamant support of abortion rights. It’s neither her political leaning nor within her personal temperament to take abstract stances in favor of rights, but she’ll champion issues she knows firsthand.
25. Expensive Sweet Potatoes
My grandmother gifted me a very old bottle of whiskey worth up to $4,000. She had no idea what it was worth and just thought it was neat because my grandfather’s name was inscribed on it. It turns out she found a whole crate of them in the basement, and had been using them for cooking sweet potatoes for years.
We were born and raised in the Philippines. After moving to the US, my mother has always been about “Pinoy pride” and making sure we weren’t “contaminated” by Western culture. She also hates (with a passion) being confused for anything except Filipino. In my late 20s, we found out that we aren’t even Filipino! We’re Japanese.
My mom was hiding the truth because she thought it was embarrassing to admit. That’s why she didn’t mention it when we were kids, and as we grew older, it became more and more awkward to bring up. I think she emphasized Pinoy culture with us so much because she was worried about getting called out. We now greet her with “Konichiwa” to mess with her.
27. Scamming Granny
My family found out with my grandpa passing that my grandma was never married to him. She refused to marry him because her main goal was to live on Social Security and never work a day in her life. She claims she only said they were married when she got pregnant with my aunt because she didn’t want to be seen as an unmarried pregnant lady.
She did end up living off Social Security, but recently the government found out, and now they may sue her. She’s a horrible person who only cares about money, so this is karma.
28. My Aunt, the Bootlegger
When my family came over from the “old country,” prohibition was just starting. They knew how to make moonshine from living in the old country. So, my great-aunt became very involved in bootlegging and made a whole bunch of money. We have all these great photos of her all dressed up in furs and fabulous clothes from back then. This great-aunt never had any kids, but my grandmother had eight kids.
My great aunt put a significant amount of money in a trust for my mother and her siblings that was supposed to pay out when my grandmother passed. My mother had an older brother who was a lawyer. They put him in charge of the trust and a whole other bunch of family money. It appeared he was doing well for himself. He had nice cars, went on ski trips, had very nice boarding schools for his kids….
Well, eventually he started to fall apart from alcoholism. If the trust from the bootlegger aunt had been properly managed, it should have been worth around $1.5 million. At this point, there were five siblings left, so that was nothing to sneeze at. People started asking about the money, and there was almost a fist-fight between my uncles at my grandmother’s funeral.
Turns out, the vacations and private schools were paid for by the trusts, and not because my uncle was a successful lawyer.
29. Online Discovery
While using a certain DNA service, I was contacted through the website by a first cousin. However, I did not recognize this cousin. Turns out, this cousin was put up for adoption at birth years ago by my aunt. My aunt only told my mother, who told me after I started digging to figure out how this person and I were related.
My aunt is horrified that I found out about her child, and now avoids me at all costs at family gatherings. I honestly don’t care that she had a child and put the child up for adoption.
30. It Started With a Snowstorm…
When I was around two, my mom’s mom was watching my sisters and I while my parents were at work in the city. For some reason, she refused to let us see our parents after that for any reason, and we ended up staying with her for around half a year. All that time, we had no idea my parents were living a waking nightmare. Turns out our parents had been trapped in the city for two days because of a horrible snowstorm, so my Nanny had gone to the courthouse and claimed they had abandoned us.
She took temporary custody of my sisters and I, and my parents had to wait six months to be deemed “suitable” parents so that we could return.
31. Affair With The Mailman
During WWII, my great grandmother had an affair with the mailman while her husband was away at the front and ended up getting pregnant. To save her marriage, she decided to put the child, my grandfather, up for adoption before her husband came home. Nobody ever found out. Somehow (and I have no clue how), she managed to keep it a secret until she was on her deathbed, when she finally told her two daughters, who were born after my grandfather.
Sometime later, in the early 1990s, they hired a private investigator to find their long lost brother. When they found him, they waited in the parking lot for him to get off work, and broke the news to him that they were his sisters. My dad told me he remembered going to a Christmas party with them as a child, but that was about it, they lost contact after that.
I’ve never met them, but the story still fascinates me.
My uncle held “gender reveal parties” in 1990 before they were cool. As in, he would go to restaurants, reveal his “gender” to unsuspecting people, and then run away. He took a plea deal and agreed to leave South Dakota and never come back. My father got drunk and told me this—I did not want to learn about this.
33. Was There a White Pointy Hat?
After my great aunt passed, we found KKK letterhead stationery and some other paraphernalia that indicated she’d been doing secretarial work for them.
34. Squatting Aunt-Turned-Cultist
I had an uncle who was trying to sell a really nice house of his, and after a year and a half, he called his agent to figure out why it wasn’t selling. It turns out that my aunt had taken all of the For Sale signs down, and had been living in the house the whole time. When confronted about it, she sold off all of the furniture and stripped the house of wiring and pipes before ditching out.
This same aunt hands out business cards with “Reverend Dr.” before her name because she got some certificates online. Now, she owns her own church and all of the church members live on this giant property in Virginia. Sounds like a cult to me.
35. Dealing Dad
My dad used to be a major drug dealer when he was in his 20s. He was delivered over 100 lbs of marijuana a week, and that was just the beginning. He was never caught, and eventually stopped because his stash house got robbed. He took the cash he had made and moved to a different city and started over. He never told my mom, and the only reason I ever found out was that one day his buddy came over, and my dad gave him a package that looked like it should’ve been in a 1950s mailbox.
It was wrapped in brown paper and hade twine tied around it. He didn’t realize I was standing in the door, but decided to confess everything to me instead of just telling me some lie and sending me away none the wiser. We now laugh about it every chance we get.
36. Salacious Sisters
My sister appears to have husband-swapped with another couple. Both of the couples in question seem to have children that look like they belong more with the other family. My other sister appears to have a secret, lesbian, side relationship with a woman with whom she’s constantly attending work retreats (when no such work retreats are actually going on).
37. Wild Woman
My father found out from an obituary a few years ago that he had an aunt who he never knew existed. He asked my grandmother about it, and she revealed that her parents had put her sister in an institution when she was in her teens (in the 1940s) because she was “too wild” and just NEVER TALKED ABOUT HER AGAIN. Even when he asked her about it, she didn’t want to discuss it with him. Eventually, she gave him that bare minimum, saying only that she was very wild and their father had had her sent away to an institution.
I’ve never been able to find the obituary—but this is a very strange and dark part of our family history.
38. Gang Family
I discovered that my family was taking part in some really bad stuff involving Mexican gangs, like distribution and some deaths. I found out when my brother’s dad was found dead the day he got out of prison. My mom was talking to my aunt about it. They were talking in Spanish, but they didn’t know that I was learning the language (we never learned Spanish as my siblings and I grew up, so they would talk in Spanish if they didn’t want us to pick up on what they were saying).
Anyway, after that, my uncle went to where the crime had taken place and, after about a month or so, a couple of other people that our family knew were reported missing or dead. Later, I asked my mom about it, and she said that our family has been part of this shady stuff since before my grandmother even migrated from Mexico.
Suddenly, it all made sense. I always wondered why we would have to move every three to six months, why my uncle and grandma always had respect from countless people I’ve never seen before, and why they were given so many freebies from strangers. People seemed to know me before I’ve ever even heard of them. My siblings and I are not involved anymore, but four of my cousins are.
39. Jer-ry! Jer-ry!
My “grandfather” was my great-uncle and my “great-uncle” was my grandfather. To make this less confusing…let’s say there are two brothers, John and Harry. John has a good job in America and is back visiting the old country. Both brothers are at a football match and meet my grandmother, Rose. Now, Rose is really into Harry, but John is the one with the job in America, so when he asks her to marry him and go with him to Boston, she agrees.
So John and my Granny marry, and she has three of his kids. Sadly, it ends up being not a great marriage (go figure), and they haven’t had another child for 10 years. Meanwhile, Harry has come to America and is living with the family…when all of a sudden, grandma is pregnant with my father. Fast forward to much later, when Rose gets drunk and admits to someone that she “really loved” my father’s father.
John had always treated my father poorly, so we were able to put the pieces together. I’m pretty sure John and Rose weren’t sleeping together by this point, so he definitely knew the paternity of my father, but being a good Catholic, he just put up with it. So, there’s my Jerry Springer-level family secret.
40. Hypocrite Parents
I ended up going to community college with my extraordinarily anti-drug father and stepmother’s drug dealer, who we will call Andrew. The real kicker is that my stepmother is a drug/alcohol addictions counselor. I only let them know I knew once they had really made me angry; I was a very timid and passive person back then.
I threw out the slow burn one day by calling out, “Oh Andrew ******** says hi!” and then leaving.
41. Greasy Grandparents
My grandparents were margarine smugglers in the early 1960s.
42. Double-Life Dads
I was always told that my dad was a mild-mannered internet entrepreneur and that my grandfather was a happy-go-lucky retired used-car salesman. I have literally never in my life seen my dad even so much as raise his voice, and to this day, my grandfather is the nicest, sweetest, most thoughtful man I’ve ever met. I was in my early 20s before I found out the truth. It was right after my dad was caught two states over trying to do a six-figure drug deal.
I met my grandpa for lunch to try and help me make sense of this, and he told me everything. My dad was a big-time drug dealer, with clients in five or six major cities. He got into it using my grandpa’s contacts: as it turns out, my grandpa used to break people’s legs and rob stores for the Detroit Mafia in the 60s and 70s.
To this day, we don’t talk about it very much. When my dad got out of prison, we went on pretending like nothing had happened. I brought it up for the first time to my grandpa a few days before Christmas. I had watched The Irishman and started thinking about how my grandpa ran with the Detroit Mafia at the same exact time Hoffa disappeared.
I brought up the movie, and he said he hadn’t seen it yet, so I kind of prodded him. He waved his hand dismissively and said, “I heard the same rumors everyone else heard. I guarantee the only people who know what happened are whoever was there.”
43. Archeological Ancestor
A direct ancestor of mine on my mother’s side opened the tomb of King Tut. It turns out I’m related to Howard Carter.
44. Drug Tragedy
My uncle, who was always very smart and fun and kind, was actually addicted to drugs of some kind. I haven’t seen him since I was a young kid, and I always wondered why. A few years ago, he killed a woman and fled, and is missing now. According to police, while he was high, he was in his car with the window was rolled down, and a woman (most likely a prostitute and also high) tried to get into his car through the window for some reason.
He tried to drive off, but she clung on. I’m not sure how she died, but I assume her hanging onto a moving car was part of it. It’s really sad. He’s a genius, a great artist, and an all-around good guy as far as I remember. He did magic tricks for me and gave me a cool small statue of a fairy and a dragon for my birthday because I told him I liked dragons and I liked my fairy cat toy. I miss him. I hope he’s ok.
45. Pilfering Papa
I just found out two years ago that my dad has a younger brother. My nana was a single mother in the mid-60s and put the brother up for adoption. Not long after she gave him up, she met and married my papa, so my dad was raised as an only child. My papa was a safecracker in the 30s/40s (I’m not exactly sure when), and at one point had a cop help him and his friends load a stolen safe into a stolen ice cream truck. My papa had also spent 19 years in jail.
I always assumed it was because of the safe cracking, but nope—it was so much worse. He was “leaving” the military during WWII in the middle of the night, and broke into a lady’s garage to steal a car. The lady caught him and he shot and killed her. He turned his life around during his time in jail before eventually marrying my nana.
46. One-Punch Grandpa
One day, I asked my mom why grandpa hadn’t stayed in his hometown and taken over the farm. It turns out that once, when they had had a bunch of local kids over to hang out, grandpa couldn’t find his sister. He went looking for her and went around the corner of the barn—where another guy was attacking her.
Grandpa grabbed the guy, gave him one punch to the head—and accidentally killed him. He served 10 months in jail. After that, he decided to move a whole 10 miles away to another town. The ironic part is that my grandfather’s name is Pleasant! He’s referred to as one-punch grandpa now. This dark secret is not mentioned by the family, but somehow, kinda cool.
47. An Onion Farmer’s Story
Growing up, my mom told me that my aunt and uncle didn’t live in our country, and that’s why we never talked with them. The truth was so much more horrifying. My uncle never wanted kids and resented his wife (my aunt) for having my cousin, so he killed her and then himself, leaving my cousin with both of his parents dead in the middle of the night, all by himself.
As crazy as this sounds, my cousin is now an onion farmer out in the middle of nowhere and we only hear from him once or twice a year. It’s very, very sad.
48. Crazy In Love
My great aunt was a nurse at a mental hospital about 100 years ago. She fell in love with a guy who had been committed there by the State. She helped him escape, and they ran off together to another part of the country. Romantic, right? Wrong. It turns out that the guy was a psychopathic killer, and he got extradited back and put in prison.
My aunt, a sweet old soul, lived to be 99 years old, and I never knew anything about her past until decades after she was gone.
49. 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.