I have lived on this wonderfully amazing Earth for almost 31 years. Experiencing many happy times and many sad times. I’ve dealt with my share of grief as well as happiness. I always value my family, as they have been and will always be there for me. Something I have always seemed to hear, and I appreciate more as I grow up and experience life: farther along we’ll understand why.
Through breakups with boyfriends, falling out of friendships, pets passing away, and even marriage issues, I’ve always had my family to fall back on. And I’ve always had that peace of knowing it. Growing up we would visit family members several times a week. The whole family would gather during all of the holidays. Something strange happened just a few days ago that sort of turned that world upside down, but not in a totally bad way.
My family has always been close-knit, especially on my dad’s side. We all live close to each other so growing up, I knew my family members well and would see them regularly. On Christmas Eve, all of the family (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandkids) would gather at my granny’s house and she would cook a large, delicious meal and yummy desserts. Then we would all pile into her and Papa’s living room, in a large circle, and take turns opening gifts.
I remember those days like it was literally yesterday. Even though the last of those days I was 12 or 13 years old when my granny passed away. My papa passed shortly after and that was that. Circle of life. I will always cherish the memories of going to their house. I was always a skinny little thing as a child, my granny would playfully slap me with a flyswatter telling me to eat. Don’t get me started on her “walking fart” shoes.
I always thought that my family was close-knit and that I knew all there was to know about them. Boy was I wrong.
A few days ago, I learned some interesting things. For one, a distant family member that had been adopted as a baby just found us so there’s that. And here is the really unique thing that I learned. Now hear this, my papa and granny were married for many years, they had three children together, and they were very religious Baptist folks.
My brother is very fascinated with history. He has been working alongside other family members on our family history on my father’s side. Well long story short on that, we just recently learned that my papa was married before my granny, to a woman in 1944!!
My grandparents have been gone around 13 or so years. So, I just learned that not only was my papa married before, he also had two other children. I have an aunt and uncle out there that I have never known existed! Several members of the family had known but were sworn to secrecy by my grandpa and grandma, as it was taboo to be divorced in those days. Those family members that knew were keeping it a secret all these years.
A Little Too Late
It finally has come to light, as the truth always does. A little too late, unfortunately. Both my aunt and uncle passed away a few years ago. Finding out my papa was not only married before granny, but he had two kids. AND I have an aunt and uncle to meet- talk about a major shock!
Then after all the excitement of all of our family trying to track them down, only to learn they have already passed away and we will never get the chance to meet them. That’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s so hard to understand this and not question it. Especially when extended family members knew but continued to keep the secret.
It’s Never Too Late
The silver lining in this story is that we are starting to talk to and hear back from my cousins (my aunt and uncle’s children) so that is pretty awesome. And I am hopeful that with time it will get even better, meeting them face-to-face will be amazing. All these family members I never knew even existed.
With this family secret finally being uncovered all these years later, it’s a little hard not to feel bitter or let-down of the unknown. If someone had told us sooner things would be different. But I believe that everything happens in this life for a reason, and it’s a blessing in disguise.
All family secrets aren’t bad. I am excited to continue this journey of knowing my “new” family. This life is amazing, and I now realize that you really can’t ever know what to expect with each new day. Embrace the day and the moment and live in the sunshine.
Farther along, we’ll understand why.
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