March 20, 2020 | Eul Basa

People Share Family Secrets That They Uncovered 


If we think we know anyone, it’s our family. They’re the people you’re supposed to share your deepest secrets with and trust implicitly. However, some family secrets only poke their heads out of the ground when you least expect them. From parents finding their half-siblings to missing heirlooms, these are some of the craziest family secrets people discovered.

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#1 Dope Grandma

My grandmother was kidnapped when she was a teenager. The only reason why she wasn’t seriously harmed is because she somehow managed to jump out of a moving van. She basically destroyed both her knees and has since had multiple surgeries. She still needs to wear braces and use a cane, but my grandmother is dope.

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#2 Real Parents

My uncle is older than my mom and when they were kids, he would tease her incessantly that she was adopted. She was pretty scarred by that. I don't know the details, but he was registering for something when he was around 60 years old and needed his birth certificate (he either lost his or never had one). He went to the local courthouse where he found out he was adopted. His adoptive parents (my mom's parents) were both gone by then, so he couldn't ask them all the questions he had.

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#3 Literally Afraid

My uncle is a literal homophobe. I previously assumed he hated gay people, but no, he is terrified of them. My mom explained that he wandered off into the woods at a rest stop during a family vacation and saw two guys fooling around at too tender an age. Now, he has the world's gayest version of PTSD.

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#4 Hidden Discourse

I found out something about my grandfather, who I had a high opinion of. I grew up thinking he was awesome all throughout my childhood, as kids do. As I got older, I noticed that my older siblings didn't really talk about him and there was definitely some hidden discourse regarding him. I never put that much thought into it. That is, until I graduated high school and spent new years with two of my siblings.

Turns out, he did inappropriate things to three of my older sisters. 

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#5 Cowboy’s Tenure

My great grandfather was a federal judge and also a successful bootlegger. One of the cowboys who worked on our family’s ranch used to joke that the reason he never got fired in the 40+ years he worked for us was because he knew where on the ranch some rival bootleggers were buried. I always thought he was joking until a few years ago while going through some old oil leases. I found a letter forbidding any drilling (test or otherwise) or roadwork on a particular half section of the ranch.

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#6 Fake Ceremony

My step great grandfather and great grandmother were never actually married. They put on a fake ceremony of sorts, but didn't legally wed so she could continue getting her deceased husband's social security, life insurance, etc. I didn't find out until my great grandma passed. They had lived together for around 20 years.

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#7 Runaway Child

My mother's sister got kicked out of the house when she was 14 years old because she was stealing from her parents. When you're poor and one of seven children... yeah, you just don't do that. Anyway, she soon got pregnant and had the baby at 15. She gave it up for adoption. That's not the family secret, though.

She found and married a guy in his 40s when she was 18. The guy had several children, the oldest of whom are around her age. She stayed with the man for over 20 years and has a few kids with him. Then one day, she decided to run away with his daughter. My aunt and her stepdaughter (who is her age!) have been together now since I was a very small child.

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#8 Finding His Mother

My grandmother, who was a gypsy went to bed with a German soldier in order to keep her brothers safe. She had a child at 14 years old and he was quietly shipped off to the soldier's parents in Germany. A few decades later, her child found her in the States and they now have an awesome relationship with each other.

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#9 Welcome Home

I did a 23andme kit and matched with a guy a little younger than I am. Absolutely nobody in my family knew my uncle had fathered a child after he and his first wife divorced. My uncle has been gone almost 20 years, but his twin daughters have since met their half-brother and he is getting to know our entire, massive family.

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#10 Golden Corral

I discovered that my cousins are my cousins on both sides of my family. To make a very long story short, I didn't know who my father was. Turns out, my mother was actually sleeping with her sister’s husband’s brother. Bonus points to me for finding out about all of this while going to the bathroom in a Golden Corral.

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#11 Struck By Lightning

My grandpa was a product of an assault. His biological father was a farmer who lived next door to my great-grandmother. The day my grandfather was born, his father got struck by lightning while riding in a horse-drawn cart. The horse came back to the small Hungarian village with his damaged body still in the cart.

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#12 Half Brothers

My uncle is my cousin. He was born to my aunt, adopted by my grandparents and raised as her brother. According to my mom, my aunt threatened to hurt herself if she had to have the baby and raise it herself, it being the late ‘60s they adopted the baby. A few years later, she got pregnant again and pulled the same thing. But this time, my grandparents wouldn’t adopt that baby. My uncle and cousin don’t know they’re actually half brothers.

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#13 Old Letters

I found out that my French grandmother was actually in love with a German soldier when she was a teenager in occupied France. He lost his life at the front, but I found some old love letters that he had written to her. I discovered them when we were cleaning her apartment after she recently passed away herself.

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#14 Don’t Go There

My grandpa is probably wanted for something serious in his country of birth. He was born in Armenia sometime prior to WWII. He refused to explain why, but he ended up in France under somewhat murky circumstances. He joined the French Foreign Legion under a fake name. His real first name is totally unknown to anyone who’s alive anymore. The last person who knew was my grandma and she passed away about 10 years ago. One of the last things she said to me was, "I never did like the fact he picked Jacque as his name."

He was wounded during the war in Indochina and received French Citizenship (a clause in the Legion's contract states if you get wounded in the service of France you get citizenship). He got his papers in his assumed name. Fast forward until I’m in my early 20s, in the military and stationed in Europe. I asked him if we have any family members still living in Armenia so I could visit them. He insisted I never go there or ever try to contact any of them. He passed away last year.

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#15 A Father’s Struggle

My aunt got pregnant at 15 and dropped out of high school to have the baby. She gave him up for adoption. My cousins, her children from her marriage 10 years later, don’t know they have a half-brother somewhere out there. She passed away a few years ago and now they will never know unless he shows up for some reason. I keep waiting for a phone call from my cousin asking if I know anything. 

Apparently, my grandfather actually blamed my father for not so-called “protecting” my aunt and keeping her out of trouble. The berating and blame really messed him up. Everything that happened resulted in him having a really hard time dealing with my older sister, who started to go down the same path as my aunt.

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#16 On Her Own

My husband’s grandma lost 13 babies before her first child was born. She also had a total of 10 foster kids throughout that time and ended up having three kids of her own. Then, her husband passed at 34 years old from heart disease when her oldest child was five and the youngest was two. She went back to college and worked two jobs to raise those kids on her own!

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#17 No Judgement

My dad recently confessed to my sister and I that he likes to dress up as a woman and go out with other men who enjoy the same thing. He even showed me pictures of himself. It's been bizarre to fully digest it all because it really never occurred to me, but I'm actually very relieved that he does that since I thought he was lonely and didn't have any friends. 

He went through a divorce, the passing of both of his parents and his company went bankrupt in the span of three years. He became very depressed at one point, which I'm pretty sure is what led him to go look for something else in life. I've been a complicated son and our relationship hasn't been the best lately, but I'm happy that he found a place to feel comfortable in and that he found strength to confide in my sister and myself. I'm also very happy that he knows he'll never be judged by us for the things he likes to do.

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#18 Dad’s Letter

My dad wrote us a letter the night before he passed, saying he was gay, so sorry and he felt like this was his end. We found it after he had passed while going through his things. My parents were still married at the time and had been for 24 years. But, my mom said it just finally made all the pieces click and explained a lot of his weird behavior. She still has a thing against most men and thinks their all secretly gay though.

Me and my mom have kept it a secret and never told any other family members. But, maybe one day down the line, I wouldn’t be opposed to letting some of his brothers and sisters know, especially since his sister is gay as well. But I know it’s super shameful for my mom, so I won’t ever mention it where it will come back to her.

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#19 Better Off

My grandpa was into substances and caused harm to his family. My grandma took the kids and ran for the hills. Also, something my mother said during an argument with my father. She didn't finish her sentence, but all I heard was, "Do you want me to tell them? The night you came home and your mom was there?" Maybe I'm better off not knowing.

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#20 Taken Prisoner

My Grandpa served in WWII in the Pacific theater. I'm not sure what rank he was, though. He was very closed off about talking about the war or even his family growing up. Every now and again, he would open up about things, but it was one of those random events. He's 98 years old so I can't even begin to imagine what he went through.

One day, my parents and my uncle were visiting him in the nursing home and he mentioned something about the war. My dad always tries to see what he can get out of him and after pushing, he found out that he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. He said the only reason he escaped was by pure chance. I can't begin to imagine what that was like or what he went through.

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#21 Missing Teeth

When I was six, I asked my dad why he chewed so weird. This is an early memory, but I remember he looked at me with a cross between “shut up” and “how did you see that?” It was because of something he had never told us or my mom, who he was married to for 13 years. This was in 1986. They divorced in 1987 for unrelated reasons. 

I noticed he was missing some teeth in 2018. So, I mentioned he should get dentures. He informed me that he’d had full dentures since he was 20. My mom and us kids never knew why and I’m 38 now. My sister still doesn’t either and she’s 35. Evidently, my dad lost almost all his teeth due to being raised by a mom who didn’t take care of him. He only had the four front bottom teeth by age 20. And his dentures don’t fit now, which is how I noticed the missing teeth.

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#22 Gold Coins

I discovered that my grandfather hid gold Austro-Hungarian coins from (socialist) Yugoslav tax collectors. We didn't find out until he passed away. It would have been considered a serious crime and he could’ve been jailed for that back in the day. But now it's cool because I get to inherit a really awesome coin!

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#23 Mom’s Side of the Family

I realized this thing about my mom's entire side of the family being unable to deal with regular confrontation. Interpersonal issues, large and small, are talked about in whispers behind backs, while face-to-face conversations are pleasant but surface-level… until they aren't because someone can't hold it in anymore. 

After that, everyone accepts their apology and understands "this person said those crazy things in the heat of the moment, and didn't mean them." When really, it was a person unleashing taboo negative emotions. We can't talk about anything negative except behind each other's backs. I don't know how to connect with my family because of it and I'm only just now understanding why I've felt this barrier.

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#24 Spot of Bother

I have a Shoshoni ancestor that jumped ship and ran in the Oklahoma Land Run. First, the penalty for jumping ship was not good. Second, the Shoshoni never surrendered to the United States, so weren't allowed to own land. Not a big deal these days, but once upon a time, this knowledge might have caused my family a spot of bother.

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#25 Deep South

My biological father is responsible for a slew of home invasions that took place in the deep South some time before I was born. He’s a semi-large dealer who stole valuables from homes when his running wasn't paying the bills. He was nabbed on a domestic charge, served his time, immediately robbed a few houses and fled somewhere outside the US. I have no idea where he is, but I hope if he ever returns to the US, that he’s somehow caught for his remaining crimes.

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#26 Tough Decision

An old lady once paid my dad for relations and he accepted to keep our family from going homeless. My mom only found out because the lady's family wanted to sue him. My mom almost left him over it. She told me about 10 years later. He knows I know, but we don't talk about it. I still think my dad did the right thing and would do the same thing if I was in his position.

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#27 Skipping Town

My uncle and his wife basically stole tens of thousands of dollars from my grandma. They would apparently make up stories about how they needed it to cover rent or whatever and would come to her for money pretty frequently. A thousand there, a few hundred there… it added up real quick. And poor grandma was getting kind of senile, so she always believed them and didn’t remember when she’d already given them money. 

They then turned around and used it on contraband. By the time my mom and her other siblings realized what was going on, they had taken over $50,000 from her over the course of a few years. When they realized everyone knew, they skipped town one day, completely suddenly. We haven’t heard from them in 10 years.

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#28  Box of Horrors

My grandma passed away last April. After going through my grandparents’ belongings, they found what my parents and my uncle referred to as "the box of horrors." My oldest uncle on my dad's side found out that my grandpa wasn't really his dad. My grandma had my uncle before she married my grandpa. He never knew it his entire life. He asked my great aunts if they knew and one of them did but didn’t know his name because my great-grandpa chased him away. What was worse, the second oldest uncle knew about this and never told him. I don't think he ever found out anything. He passed away this year.

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#29 Finding Her Sister

I found out in hushed tones from my mom one day that she had a sister, given up for adoption at birth. My mom tried to locate her, but there's only so much you can do when you don't have an accurate birth date. We ended up finding her last fall from Ancestry.com. Both her and my mom did their DNA test and they came up as a match.

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#30 Car Confrontation

My uncle didn't suffer a heart attack; he passed due to an overdose and suspected self-harm. He had schizophrenia I wasn't aware of when I was a kid. When he passed, my parents told me he had a heart attack. Six years later, a cousin tells me it's such a shame that Uncle Steve couldn't be here and how he passed, etc. She didn't know I didn't know the truth. I told my sisters. We confronted our parents on the drive home. They revealed to us about his schizophrenia. I was crying and didn't want to hear more. I wish I never said something. But if I deserved to know the truth, so did my sisters.

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#31 Second Family

My grandpa had four kids and a wife. He then left her for my grandma. My grandpa moved to live with my grandma in the next town over, about 30 miles away. I had an idea, but no one ever talked about it. My mother vaguely said something about seeing her sister when I was younger, but I don’t really remember.

I work at a hotel and on my first day, this girl asks where I’m from. I found out that she was my grandpa's daughter's daughter. So, my cousin and I got filled in how they were shunned and he never visited or even acknowledged them in public. It bothers me because everyone speaks super highly of my grandpa meanwhile he just left a family and never bothered with them again.

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#32 Away For a Summer

My grandmother had a baby that nobody ever knew about. As she was in the hospital, she kept asking for her baby, and afterwards we found a single photo of a baby that isn't any of our family. Then my uncle told us she went away for a summer when she was a young adult and it kind of clicked. Heartbreaking. Her parents were really strict and we suspect she didn't have a choice in the matter.

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#33 Grandpa’s Brother

My grandfather managed to find out that he had a brother. He found out after being over 80 years old. I forget exactly how it happened, but it was one of those small world coincidences that unravelled everything. Turns out, the two of them actually have the same name and look almost identical, even to this day.

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#34 Different Customs

My parents are actually cousins. They come from another country, so it's not exactly a weird custom over there. However, something like that is obviously not acceptable in countries like America. I found out about all of this when I was a teenager. Though, it's still weird and shameful if I ever have to tell people.

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#35 Remarkable Woman

My grandmother was kidnapped by gypsies in 1903 from Brooklyn. Some folks caught up with them and rescued her before they got her across the river. She was legally emancipated from her family and took a job as a nanny at the age of 14. I always knew her as my nice old grandmother, but she was a remarkable woman.

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#36 Sisterly Love

My aunt could not have kids. So, my mom and dad decided to have a kid for her. After quietly getting pregnant and then delivering the baby, my mom gave her away instantly to her sister without a hint of hesitation or regret. When I found this out, the respect I already had for my mom and dad sky-rocketed to whole new levels!

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#37 Another Family

My entire family found out that my great-grandpa had a second family that he saw regularly. Seeing  them regularly was the weird part because he had no relation to them after his wife and one-year-old child had passed in a car accident. At his funeral, they all showed up and were confused as to who we were. I guess they weren’t that close because none of them showed up to the hospital for the three months that he was in and out of it.

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#38 Following the Money

My mother's family is Welsh, and used to be very wealthy. We had a family estate and everything. The money ran out around my great-great-grandparent's generation (my mother's paternal grandfather's parents). One day, I asked where the money had come from and my eyes just about bugged out of my head when it turned out to be from the slave trade. Like I said, I'm Australian. This country wasn't at all involved in the trans Atlantic slave trade. But nope, I had an ancestor who owned a plantation in the Caribbean that they filmed one of the PotC films on. That was unsettling to discover. Apparently, we'd had hundreds of slaves.

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#39 Kicked Out

Dad did something with my 18-year-old cousin, who lived with us, that led to a huge separation in the church. He was an assistant pastor there and led my mom into a five-year depression. We always thought the other pastor was crazy when he claimed my dad was trying to take over and kicked us out. But it was because my dad told the main pastor what he did and the whole church found out. I found this out well into adulthood.

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#40 The Black Hand

In the early 1900s, my great grandparents immigrated to the US from Italy. They had three children, two boys and a girl, the youngest child being my grandfather. His brother, my great uncle, was always said to be tall with a thick build, temper and a love of adventure. When my grandfather was still young, his brother went missing. 

This was really no cause for concern in the first couple weeks for he would occasionally hop on a train and take off to Chicago or St. Louis just to see the city. Usually, he'd be gone for a week or two and then show up. After close to a month, they knew something was wrong, but no one knew where to look. All they could do was wait and hope he would come back. 

A couple months later, a letter showed up, not in the mail but nailed to the front door. It was from a group called The Black Hand, they had my great uncle. They demanded a ransom, I don’t know how much. But, being a poor coal-mining family, there was nothing they could do. It broke them, my great aunt had a break down and spent the rest of her life in an institute. Both of my great grandparents turned to substances. My grandfather would retreat to the woods to be alone, which eventually earned him the nickname "Jungle."

My grandfather told me this story once. He never looked at me the entire time he spoke. I knew he never told anyone this story besides his wife. My mother and her two sisters never heard this story until I told them after my grandparents had passed. They never knew they had an uncle, let alone one who was taken by this group.

I haven't thought about that story for a long time now, probably close to 20 years. I wonder, and I know my grandfather always did, what became of his brother. How did he get caught up with them? Was he a part of the Black Hand or just another victim? An old family question that will forever be unanswered.

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#41 Incoming Message

Found out when I was 18 that my mother had a son prior to meeting my dad. My dad, sister and I all found this out on the day that we were flying out to go see my stepbrother who was severely injured in Afghanistan. The doctors at Walter Reed didn’t think he was going to make it. We got police-escorted to the airport and put on a last-minute flight to Maryland. At the airport, my sister and I both got messages from our half-brother asking for confirmation about our mother. Just another thing in the long list I’ve had to deal with from her.

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#42 Reading Material

My mother's cousin is a very high ranking member in the KKK. Like, second or third-in-command high ranking. He used to send my family their monthly newsletter, but I was never allowed to read it. Apparently, he has tried to convince my mom on more than one occasion to join. Needless to say, I've never met the guy.

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#43 Anniversary Date

My mother got knocked up with my sister in high school. My parents lied about their anniversary date to cover up the fact that my mother was pregnant before they got married. They got married by a Justice of the Peace. It was likely a really quick wedding. Until the day she passed, my mother was very Catholic.

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#44 Throwing Bricks

My great uncle (or some far uncle) lost all his money gambling one night and stormed out of the pub. He was obviously pretty upset about losing everything. When he left, he saw a brick on the ground and threw it at the window. He hit someone in the head and they passed away. He spent the rest of his life in prison.

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#45 You Will Burn

I’m biracial. When my parents got married, my uncle (my mother's sister's husband) sent a letter to my mom telling her that she will burn for laying with a heathen. It explained why he literally has never said a word to me my entire life. My aunt and his kids all have, but he specifically hasn't. I once sat with him watching football on Thanksgiving and he didn't utter a word.

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#46 Missing Heirloom

Apparently, my family has an ancestral katana that is somewhere in the Sacramento river. When my grandparents were being taken to the internment camp in Manzanar, they buried old family heirlooms, including a wakizashi, around $5000 dollars (around $87,000 nowadays), and a katana made by an influential sword maker in Hokkaido. However, when they came back, the area where they had buried the items had eroded, but most of the items were still there. They found the wakizashi and the money, but the katana was nowhere to be found. My family has always thought that it drifted down the river, but we've never found it. 

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#47 Fortune Teller

I was born and raised in a Christian family. One day, I learned that my grandmother on my father's side has been making her living as a fortune teller since before I was born. Back when we still had phones with cables, she had a super long cable and was always on the phone. Little things like that suddenly click into place. She'd always been weird and kind of looked the part, too. These days, I think it's hilarious! Mom still doesn't know.

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#48 Plane Crash

My uncle caused the plane wreck that ended his life. He was using too much prescription medication. Everyone in the family thinks it was a freak accident and remembers him fondly. Except for my dad. They fought a lot, and he has no fond memories. But, even my dad doesn't know. My aunt was seriously injured in the crash as well. 

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#49 Call Your Parents

It wasn't supposed to be a secret, but it ended up being one. I was having dinner with my parents and my fiancé. It was a casual dinner and we were discussing wedding plans. They asked why we don't just do what they did and get married in Vegas. My jaw literally dropped. I never knew they got married in Vegas. My wife still makes fun of me for not knowing and uses it to remind me to talk to my parents more often.

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#50 Four Brothers

My mother has four older brothers. It came up recently that her oldest brother is actually her half-brother. (She didn't intentionally hide this information from me, it just never came up once I was old enough to know.) Her mother apparently got pregnant before she married my grandfather. It must have been shortly before they got married because he was raised as my grandfather's child. He didn't know until he was 40 that the man he thought was his father was not his biological father.

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