All families have their share of secrets. The only difference is that some truths are easier to swallow than others. These folks dish on the biggest family bombshells they’ve ever stumbled across.
I’m Sure Grandma Has Some Stories
“My grandma didn’t drive. I thought she couldn’t, but it was just never discussed.
One day when I was maybe 7-8, I’d been trying to get someone, anyone to drive me to the store for candy. We were visiting my aunt and uncle, grandma lived with them. They had Bit-O-Honey at the local store, which I could no longer get at home. But no one would take me to the store.
Finally, I said I’d just ask grandma, and my cousin chimes in with, ‘Grandma can’t drive.’
‘Oh, you bet your sweet cheeks I can drive. They just don’t let me!’ Grandma had overheard and she was in high dudgeon.
But that’s all that was said about it, and my aunt finally took me to the store, so I forgot about it.
Years later, when I’d just gotten my license, I asked my mom what was up with Grandma not driving.
She explained that during prohibition grandma boot-legged sprits for moonshiners. She was very successful at it. She was so successful at it that when the moonshiners were finally busted, even though the revenuers never caught my grandma, her license was suspended by the state ‘to never be reissued.’
Later in life, she was told she could petition for it back but it came with an admission of guilt or some such. She told ’em to go straight to h***.”
“Thanks to ancestry.com I found that I almost dated my half-brother…. so my parents were real sociable people (potheads) and we always grew up with lots of people coming in and out. One particular group of friends was this really cool southern rock band, they would come over a bring their kids and we kinda grew up together.
Fast forward to 16… one of the older boys (we’ll call him John Smith) that I had thought was really cute (I know gross in retrospect) was always nice to me…and I needed a date to a school dance because my boyfriend had cheated on me and we broke up right before. So as revenge I thought it would be awesome to show up with an older handsome guy, so I asked him to go.
My mom was really hesitant making the excuse he was too old for me (19), that he smoked, that he was a bad influence etc… in the end, we went together anyways. I didn’t know till later that she begged him not to let anything happen. It was all for nothing though. We went, we danced, he knew I was trying to make my ex jealous so he played the role well, I never felt that spark though and in the end, it was just like going with the good friend I had grown up with…
Fast forward to Christmas 2019… my husband buys me a DNA test, and come January I’m excited to get the results… here’s the thing though… none of my cousins on my dad side are popping up, and instead, I have a whole list of Smiths, including one that’s being listed as a half-sibling. I recognize her immediately as John Smiths’ sister. At this point, I’m really confused. Unfortunately both my mom and dad passed away already so I reach out to my mom’s sister…
She confirms that my mom did cheat on my dad… a lot… especially with two of the guys in the band I grew up with. She blamed it on my dad also cheating and both of their addiction problems when they were younger… I’m ticked off because like, my mom died when I was 18 and I grew up with a complex as a child because I never thought my dad loved me…. no one could tell me this? I’m not sure if my dad knew but I definitely think so.
I look nothing like my original siblings but found out in total I have like 6 more on my biological dads side (papa was a rolling stone), one of which looks just like me. Here’s the other kicker… My biological father had passed away from cancer about a year before this and I had gone to his funeral out of respect for John Smith as we’re still close. In all, I had watched both of my fathers be buried in the same year and never knew.”
Grandpa Had A Wild Streak
“My grandpa embezzled a ton of money from some utility company he worked for on the east coast of the US back in the 1930s. His job was to buy up land from farmers for utility poles. He’d say he bought a piece of land for $2k or whatever and it might have only been $500.
Anyways he got caught up in it and was wanted by the police. He was married with a family at the time too. He decided to skip town and head west.
When he got here he found a wallet in a cab and decided to steal the persons last name. So he changed his name, married my grandma and had 4 more kids.
He never talked to the other family again and my dad has been technically living with a fake family name for 70 years now.
My dad tracked down his original family who never knew what happened to their dad and told them about the rest of their dads life and has been in touch with them since.
He was crazy old too when he met my grandma. I’m only 31 and my biological grandfather was born in the 1800s.”
A Hungarian Grudge
“It’s my wife’s family, but it goes like this:
A great aunt was one of the family’s only survivors of the Holocaust back in WW2. Other than her, were her brother and sister one of which grew up to be my wife’s grandparents. (I can’t remember which. I never met them.) The siblings were much younger then. So, they didn’t remember much.
Well, the great aunt ends up writing a book about her experience fleeing the country to escape the Nazis. In it, she details the death of several family members during a march through a blizzard. Real dramatic stuff.
Well, it turned out many years after her death later, my wife’s dad gets a letter from one of the dead relatives. It turns out the great aunt didn’t like the two family members who “died” in her book. They had just parted ways at some point during the escape.
She wrote them out of the family in her book and took the secret to her grave. Fortunately, their last name is very unique in the world, because of how many of them didn’t survive the Holocaust. So, once the ‘dead’ relatives started searching the U.S., they popped up right away. This happened about 3 years ago, I think.
Hungarian grudges are legendary.”
Well That Ending Was Certainly Unexpected
“My mom married my stepfather in the mid-80s. My mom and dad had been divorced since my birth in the early 70s. So, living primarily with my mom, she would of course go out on dates, and eventually, I would get the old boyfriend introduction which usually went well. With my soon-to-be stepfather, I always knew there was something a little off. Couldn’t ever really pin down what it was, but he was just off, if ever so slightly. But hey, my mom really liked this guy, so I was in. Made my way through some awkward teenage years with him, and off to college. Still, I felt like I was missing something from him.
Then, in 1997, my mom and stepdad divorced. Towards the end, he would grow very impatient and I guess they would fight a lot, but I wasn’t around to see it as I had long since moved out and had my own life to lead in a different state. Didn’t even hear him come up much in conversation after that.
Now, fast forward to 2007. My mom, unfortunately, had cancer and it was nearing the end of her life. I spent the last two weeks with her at her house, just talking and letting her know how much I loved her and what a great mom she had been. For those that have never seen a loved one pass away from cancer, it’s not very pleasant. They tend to get a little loopy, forgetful, and generally speaking, aren’t 109% with it. So, sitting on the couch next to her on one of these days, she exclaims ‘Well, I suppose I can tell you about your stepfather now’. My eyes perked right up, I knew it I knew it, something was off about him! Maybe he went AWOL from the Army? Maybe he had a kid I didn’t know about? She continued on ‘Your stepfather was a gay adult film star in the 70s’. This, I had not expected.”
Drama and Lies
“When I was 13, my sisters a year and two years older than me respectively, we flew to our hometown to visit our mom and some extended family out there. We started out by staying over at our aunt’s house for a few days, when out of the blue our (dumb lying prick) cousin came and stayed over with us too.
It was fine at first, we had been having a good time with our aunt and uncle and reluctantly catching up with our cousin. One day we (my sisters, cousin, and I) all decided to walk to the park in our aunt’s neighborhood. My sisters and cousin got on the topic of smoking weed and wishing they had some to smoke. I wasn’t interested and didn’t think they would be able to get any, so paid it no mind. Until cousin said she had friends who could hook them up.
Walked home, had dinner, the night panned out as the previous ones had until the security alarm started blaring throughout the house because of an opened window in the room my sisters and cousin were hanging out in. Turns out cousin had asked her friend to bring them weed and pass it through the window, but lo and behold no one knew there was an alarm.
Uncle stormed in cussing up a storm angry as all heck for no reason. The rest of the night was tense as we were all sent to bed early.
Morning comes and my sisters and I fix ourselves breakfast, cause Uncle and Aunt and cousin are nowhere to be seen. They were having a private discussion in the master bathroom while we had no clue one was happening as we weren’t invited to partake.
When our aunt emerged, she sat us all down and told us we couldn’t stay at her house anymore because she didn’t want anything to happen when she went to work. Super out of the blue, but she had already called our mom and asked her to pick us up.
We were upset and didn’t understand why, or what, a cousin had said to have us kicked out of our aunt and uncle’s house when she was free to stay. The drama unfolded as everyone in the family heard something or other about why we weren’t able to stay, but the only explanation we were given was our aunt not wanting any ‘accidents’ to happen when she wasn’t around.
Our family relations fell apart. We didn’t talk to any family on my dad’s side after that trip for a long time because of the way they had treated us and kicked us out without explanation. To this day I still don’t talk with any of them regularly.
Because I recently found out my dear lovely cousin told my aunt my sisters and I were trying to sell our bodies for smokes at the park and were planning to sneak out that night to try again. And she must have believed it.
To this day, it still hurts to think about how unfairly my sisters and I were treated ON TOP for having such a lousy accusation put against us and believed by someone I loved and admired. My cousin can choke for all I care, I bet the reason she said those things are that she had plenty of experience firsthand….anyway, that’s the family secret I can share within my immediate family because I could care less what kind of secrets the rest of my extended family has.”
The Truth Comes Out
“When I was 28, I found out that my dad was not my biological father. The news came out via the following: my dad was battling depression and was suicidal, so I had just flown home to try to take care of him and rescue him from my mom’s wrath. My mom had verbally and emotionally abused him during their entire relationship. He loved her so much, and he tolerated it.
Well, during a solemn walk with my dad, as I tried to help him out, he confided that he’s not my biological dad, and he went on to tell me he knew this all along but my mom lied to him and tried to convince him that he was my biological father. He knew he wasn’t, but he wanted to play the role. When I was 10 years old, my mom finally confessed this to him, and he was worried that upon hearing the news, officially, he’d somehow let this affect his relationship with me. So, when I was 28 years old, during this walk w/ my dad, as he pours out this story to me, he frames it by telling me that his two most proud items in his life are: (1) how I turned out / his raising me; (2) that he had completely forgotten about the news my mom told him earlier in that day (when I was 10), about him not being my biological father, and that it was only upon tucking me in at night (when I was 10), that it briefly crossed his mind. It was at that point that he knew nothing would ever come between us and our father-son relationship would be as awesome as ever.
He also confided that my mom did narcotics while pregnant with me, and this broke his heart to witness firsthand. They were very poor. My dad grew up in a foster home without parents. My mom grew up w/ 6 siblings and ill-equipped parents. She dropped out of 9th grade, whereas all of her other siblings dropped out earlier — many of them are barely literate.
I’m now mid-30s, and tragically, my dad committed suicide in mid-March 2020, right as COVID was hitting. I was out of the country at the time but immediately flew 30 hours (30-min layover) and made it in time for his funeral. I do everything in his honor.”
Grandpa Got Around
“We recently found out that around 40 years ago my grandfather had a seven-year-long affair with a woman in his church who was also married. During this time he had two children with this woman and they never told anyone about it. She pretended that those two children were that of her husband despite them not looking anything like him.
How we found out was rather interesting. A couple of years ago I had gotten one of the 23andMe DNA kits to figure out what my ethnic background looked like. My aunt and uncle had done the same about a year ago as well. Once you get your results from 23andMe, it also will show you any DNA matches you have with relatives.
A couple of days after Christmas, a woman had reached out to my aunt and uncle asking to speak with them because 23andMe was telling her that they were her half-siblings and that I was showing up as her nephew. Coming from a very strict Catholic family, this was very confusing and concerning to her. They ended up meeting and pieced together everything and then approached their parents about it who at first denied it, then came clean about the affair.
It’s been pretty hard on the family. For the longest time my grandfather was too stubborn to even apologize to the family and my grandmother for all the pain he’s brought, but he finally did. Shockingly enough my grandparents are still together despite all of this coming to light.”
Regret and Resolve
“My father died when I was 7-years-old, after a super bitter and contentious divorce from my mother. We never went to his funeral. To this day (I’m 36 now), I’ve never even visited my father’s grave, but that’s something I will fix soon, I hope. My siblings and I were told by my mother that we were abused and unwanted by my dad and his new wife, so just before he died he sent us away so he could enjoy his life without us and with his new wife and son, my stepbrother who was just a baby at the time. I bitterly hated my father for decades for doing this to us – cruelly sending us away to be impoverished and abused by my mother. My mom told us stories about how he would leave us outside during the winter if we did anything wrong and only fed us a small can of beans or a hot dog for all three of us kids while giving his other son all the best food and toys and stuff. I couldn’t remember anything, so I took her word for it. It was ironic in hindsight, she talked about how abusive he was, and then she would turn around and leave us alone for months on end to fend for ourselves while she was vacationing with friends, or beat us with tree branches and pipes, or tell us we were her biggest regret in life. Thank God for my older sister, without her I’d be dead right now. Anyways.
Five years ago I was getting married, and wanted to bury the hatchet with my little brother. So I found him on Facebook and started talking with him, and we all reconciled. None of it was his fault, after all, he was only a baby.
When he flew out to see us, we started talking with him about our abusive prick of a father, and he was sincerely confused. As it turns out, after the divorce, my mother (for lack of a better term) seduced a very expensive lawyer into suing my father for custody of us, essentially legally kidnapping us through the system. My father was a very poor southern man and couldn’t afford any high-powered attorneys. We found out that not only was everything we knew about my father a lie, but he fought tooth and nail until the day he died trying to get us back, or to at least see us again. We didn’t attend his funeral because (of course) they didn’t want my mother there. My paternal grandparents and my stepmother (who is a very kind and wonderful woman, by the way) tried to get us kids to attend it, but my mother wouldn’t let us. She told us my dad said in his will he didn’t want us there, which is absurd in hindsight. He died suddenly of a heart attack and had no time to write a will banning his kids from his funeral. Anyway, we found out my dad tried to send us mail, gifts, voicemails… and none of it ever got to us because my mom intercepted and destroyed it all. My dad loved and missed us intensely, up until the moment he died. My stepmom kept court documents, photos, letters, home movies… all proof of his devotion to us in the hopes that one day we could reconcile.
Sometimes I think about it, like what must have been going through his head when he was dying. Did he think about us? Did he see me specifically? Did he feel like he failed by not getting us back and now he’ll never see us grow up? Did he die so young of a heart attack because of the stress my mom put him through by taking us away? If he knew the horrible things we thought about him, he would have been crushed. I spent so much time being manipulated into hating my father that I don’t even really miss him. It feels good to know my dad loved me, but it doesn’t change anything now. I can’t call him when I need advice. I can’t talk to him about marriage problems or repairing my car. It’s the same as it’s ever been. I’m just numb to it, and I think that’s the saddest thing.
I don’t know if there is a heaven or afterlife or whatever, but I hope somehow he knows I’m sorry for thinking that way about him and that I would give anything to be able to talk to him a little bit or feel what his hug is like.”
A Secret Sibling
“My mother had a child when she was a teenager, and she had given him up for adoption to a family. After this, she went to college, got her degree, married my father, and gave birth to my 4 siblings and myself. ~30 years after giving her child up for adoption, I remember her getting a phone call and immediately locking herself in her room. I was about 12 at the time. I remember feeling scared because I could hear my mom crying, but she didn’t want to see anybody or talk about why she was crying.
On an evening later that week, my parents sat each of us kids down and told us about my mom’s past and explained that my half-brother had reached out to my mom wanting to meet her and get to know her. My dad had known ever since he and mom were dating in college, and I believe my oldest sister had been told previous to this point. But the rest of my siblings and I and all of the in-laws on my dad’s side (my grandma, aunts, uncles, etc.) didn’t know about this part of her past. We are fairly religious/conservative, so it was really shocking at first.
My mom then flew out to the state where my half-brother lived with her sisters and met him. Both my mom and my half-brother were very nervous about the whole thing, but by the end of their trip meeting each other, they got to rebuild a relationship. After a bit of time, we (my siblings and I) got to meet him too.
Fast-forwarding to now, he’s since moved to our same state and we see him much more frequently. He’s in all of our family pictures, we see him occasionally for holidays and birthdays, and we all see him as part of our family. We’re a very close-knit and extroverted family, while he is much shyer, so at times he’s can be a bit more distant than we would like, but we give him his space. I know my mom stays in close touch with him, and we love it when he’s able to make it for family dinners and whatnot.
Back then, I was the youngest and (up till then) the only boy in my family, so I loved learning that I had an older brother. Now that I’m an adult, I sometimes get his old clothes because were roughly the same size. He’s got good taste too so I really lucked out haha. I love that this family secret was spilled and that we were able to welcome my brother into our family and have him in our lives.”