Sometimes it’s hard to believe that our parents had a dark past. I mean it’s not easy to wrap your mind around the fact that sweet grandma used to be a big-time pot smuggler in Colombia. The bottom line is everyone in your family had lived their own life long before you got here. So it’s easy to understand how every family has their secrets. Now, some of these secrets are much darker and more destructive than most. It’s not your fault; you can’t pick who you’re related to. I think that’s one of the exciting parts of growing up when you get to learn more about the history of your family. I just hope I don’t discover anything nearly as dark as these people did.
1. That is a lot of unexpected guests.
“So my grandfather is roughly 80 and has five kids (one of which is my father) all ranging from ages 40-50. Well about three years ago, he had a knock on the door, and it turns out that he had a family before he met my grandmother in Iowa and never told anyone.
He had married his first wife in California when he was sent out there in the Navy, and had two or three kids with her. He went and got himself deployed, and she apparently left with the kids while he was gone. Being the mid 1900s, he never found them, so he went on a cross country trip to New York for some reason. Luckily for me, he met my grandmother and had five kids, never telling anyone about his former life. From what we understood he graduated school, went into the Navy after working on some farm for a couple years, and tried to go to New York before getting snagged by my grandma in Iowa.
Well while he was doing this, apparently wife #1 was moving around the country as well, and every couple years, put those kids in adoption, busted them out of adoption, had three more kids from three different dads, but kept my grandpas same last name. So one of the original first kids went on a mission to find my grandpa, found him, and they all came to visit.”
2. Jill was anything but “plain”.
“My dad recently told me a family story of one of his older, distant relatives; we’ll call her Jill. This all happened some 70 years ago, a good 20 years before my father was born. It’s a bit unclear what actually happened, but I’ll try my best to piece it together.
Jill was a ‘plain’ looking girl who was raised on a small, country farm. Being a bit of a quiet tomboy, she didn’t go to school but took care of the farm’s horses instead.
One day in her teenage years, Jill was in the stables when something spooked one of the horses. It reared up and kicked Jill in the face. Since there was very limited medical surgery, she ended up somewhat disfigured and scarred. She withdrew from much of society and lived solely on the farm as a hermit.
Years of isolation pass and one day, Jill vanishes. Perhaps her immediate family knew, but no extended family were ever told what happened. That is it, until they were notified of her death four years later. You see it turns out, Jill had run away and enlisted in the army. She had fought overseas in WWII, and had been killed.
Now that might not seem like much of a story, but keep in mind that only men fought in WWII. Jill had somehow managed to pose as a man for four years in the army without being detected, and it was her death that gave her away. Considering the rest of my family history isn’t very exciting, I think it’s a pretty cool story.”
3. This is not some sad, little nursing home for the Nazi way of life to die, it is merely an incubator.”
“I married this woman a few years ago. After dating her a while, I could tell there was something strange about her family. She claimed that she didn’t know what part of the world her ancestors were from, didn’t know where her last name came from, her parents had blonde hair and blue eyes, but had Latino accents. I later found out their first language was Portuguese and they were from Brazil.
Anyway, about a year after we were married, she sat down with me and explained that her grandparents were avid Nazis who fled to Brazil just before the war ended. She obviously didn’t like for people to know this, and had a hard time finding a way to tell me. I didn’t really care. I told her that I loved her for who she was and it didn’t matter who her grandparents were, all that mattered was who she was.
Anyway, it seemed important for her that I meet her relatives in Brazil, and apparently, her parents went there to visit every few years. So we planned the most bizarre trip of my life. When you first arrive, nothing seems off about the colony. They speak Portuguese and German, they have jobs, they drive cars, they don’t stand out in any way except that they look different than other Brazilians. The colony is isolated, and the few locals who are around don’t seem to care of really quite grasp what’s going on.
But once you start talking to people, you realize that they are deeply disturbed and have a deep-seated hatred for anyone who is different from them, especially Jews. I remember one conversation I had with her great uncle, a man who, I kid you not, had a Hitler mustache.
‘If you are going to be a part of this family you have to understand what we are planning. This is not some sad, little nursing home for the Nazi way of life to die, it is merely an incubator.’”
4. Tough to make eye contact after that revelation.
“An ex of mine was telling me that her father made films as a hobby of sorts and he actually had some success on the indie horror cult classic scene. So one day I was bored and decided to Google his name and found a bunch of his films. In most of them, the main character was my ex’s mother and she had at least one full frontal nudity scene in each. She was pretty attractive and I’m open-minded about nudity anyways, but I have to say I felt a little weird when I watched one of the sex scenes between the mother and the father. I couldn’t look her in the eyes after that point.”
5. Way to go, Grandma!
“My grandmother just confessed to me last week that she was a borderline alcoholic and at age 50 started going to AA by herself (at the synagogue so she wouldn’t run into her Catholic friends) and quit drinking then. No one even noticed because she had hid her drinking so well from her husband and 5 children. She didn’t tell her husband for almost 30 years and he was shocked. My mom, dad and brother all don’t know yet.”