"When my husband died, we got on his phone to get phone numbers to make make the necessary calls to his friends. We found a text he had written me during the night right before he died, but never sent. It read like a suicide note (apologizing to me, asking me to tell the kids he loved them), even though he had a heart attack. Apparently, he knew he was having a heart attack, and instead of calling 911 or waking me up, he wrote the text, and went back to bed (laying next to me) to die."
"My dad died in a car accident when I was 6. When he was alive, he wasn't the kindest guy, he was very strict and pretty distant (a good dad in ways, just not very affectionate). After he died, my siblings who were in high school found out a bunch of stuff about him. He was violated as a kid. When he told his dad, his dad told him to suck it up and be a man about it. Then my sister found medical records on our parents' computer saying he'd attempted suicide a few times as an adult because he had severe depression, but he was so ashamed and couldn't let us find out. The man we thought was very rigid ended up just being a guy who had a very hard life. I wish I had known him better."
"I was cleaning my grandfather's cedar closet out, where you keep sweaters and coats and stuff, and I was looking through some shoe boxes. Most of them held really fancy shoes from the fifties and earlier. Unfortunately, his feet were two sizes smaller than mine. But inside one of the pairs of shoes was a bunch of paraphernalia for shooting up, with a glass needle, spoon, candle stub, rotted out rubber hose, and it was all wrapped up in a silk handkerchief. They didn't look like they had been used for decades, but they had been used at one time. I held on to it for a couple of months but decided against showing my dad, his son, then tossed them because I was nervous about keeping them.
He was a railroad engineer, a deacon, and a total square, but could still play honky-tonk piano with gusto, maybe that all came from an old period in his life."
"My uncle was found murdered in his home in Miami a couple years ago, and my family was so shocked because we couldn't figure out who would want to kill him. He had always been a nice guy and a great entertainer. After some digging and a year of a police investigation, it turns out he was murdered by a man who his secret gay lover hired, because the secret boyfriend didn't want to be taken out of my uncle's will after they had a fight. None of us knew he was gay.
We also discovered my uncle was a big-time producer in the gay adult film industry, which is how he got to know all these guys. We all thought he was a successful entertainment promoter and flipped real estate for fun. Apparently, my uncle left his secret boyfriend millions of dollars in his will, of which my family got none of. Because the police couldn't prove his secret lover orchestrated the murder, he got the millions of dollars from the will and is probably partying his butt off in Miami right now. He left nothing for his mentally disabled sister, whom he had promised to care for after their parents passed. It just amazed me how someone we thought we knew could lead a double-life like this for so long, and none of his family had any idea."
"My Great Grandfather was a freaking horrible person. He beat his wife and children, was insanely cruel to the family pets, drank away what little money they had... Basically, if you have an image of 'bad working-class husband from the 1940's,' then you have the right image for him.
All his life, he always wore long sleeved shirts, NEVER took them off in front of anybody, never rolled his sleeves up, pretty much permanently wore a long-sleeved button-down shirt (to the point where even my Great Grandma had never seen him shirtless, he wore clothes even to bed.) What's more, my Gran never really knew anything about him. She says she asked him when she was very little about why they never saw their grandparents' from his side, and he hit her and told her not to ask stupid questions.
When he died, my Gran's family didn't have the money for a fancy undertaker and whatnot, so they brought his body home to wash him and dress him for the funeral. On taking his shirt off, they discovered that he was covered from the shoulders down in religious tattoos; giant crosses, bible verses, images of angels and devils, all with a theme of redemption, many of the tattoos contained text asking for forgiveness.
After asking around a bit at the funeral, my Gran was able to piece together some information about his earlier life. It turns out that her father had been born into a VERY abusive family, had run away at an early age and had ended up living in a poorhouse where the children were 'cared for' by nuns, and by 'cared for' they meant that they were beaten regularly to discourage any sinful behavior (there was also some evidence to suggest probable intimate abuse), and schooled in the Bible rigorously.
His upbringing had obviously left it's mental scars on the man, helping to make him the abusive jerk he became in later life, but his tattoos and later handwritten notes they found show that he was aware of what he was doing and knew that it was wrong..."
"After my dad died, my mom found an envelope in his drawer with my name on it. It was a letter he wrote me when I was 3-months-old (I was 21 when he died). In the note, there was a line that said, 'If you're reading this, it means I'm no longer in your life,' and also said that he hopes he can be a good dad, and he will always try to be there for me/help me with my problems and hopes that we'll be close, etc. It kind of made me sad because I didn't have the BEST relationship with him. It wasn't bad, but I was the kind of kid that would rather be left alone than spend time with my parents and stuff. He would on occasion ask if I wanted to watch a movie or play a game with him, and sometimes I would. But for the most part, he let me just be by myself. And, up until I read that note, I honestly thought he was like me and just preferred being alone, and didn't mind that I didn't spend a lot of time with him. My mom and I also thought it was weird that we even found that note. My dad had a habit of misplacing crap, and that note was written over 20 years ago and he managed not to lose that."
"My sister committed suicide when she was 22 years old. I'm 3 years older than her so I was 25 at the time. She wrote a suicide note on an old typewriter, even though she had a computer. In it, she wrote she was sorry, but since her last boyfriend had broken up with her she only had one friend left in life and sadly that person couldn't be there for her right now.
It had been a rough breakup and she called me a few times but I was so busy. I had a new girlfriend at the time and I was studying to take on other work where I worked so every night I spent around 2 hours studying as well. It was a stressful time with very little time left over for me. My sister asked me to come and visit her and just keep her company because she was feeling lonely and she really needed someone to talk to. And I promised that I'd call her as soon as I could, maybe next weekend. But the weeks passed and I never found the time and it was too late, she committed suicide.
Growing up we had been like most other brothers and sisters: worst enemies and best friends at the same time. The same year she turned 17 she moved to another part of the country for dance studies and she was very nervous about the whole thing, so I thought I should be kind to her and I made her a little crappy bracelet from a leather strip, and on it, I had written 'I love you, sis.'
So when we were going through her apartment, that bracelet was on her living room table. I never thought I would see that again. I had expected her to throw it away on the way to the train the same day she left. But apparently, she kept it for 5 years and was something she had been looking at the same day she took her life.
It was like some sort of a mental blow seeing that bracelet again, remembering how I swore when I made a mistake with the bracelet, my sister's expression when she left, the color of her bags, memories of playing with her on the beach when we were young, memories of tearing up one of her coloring books because I was mad at her.
I was struggling for a long time with self-blame, even though everyone said it's not your fault and you can't blame yourself, but I am much better now. I still visit my sister's grave on her birthday every year, planting some flowers and lighting a candle.
The pain never really goes away, but you learn to live with it, I still miss my sister but it's holidays they really return. It is over 10 years ago now but it still feels like almost no time has passed between then and now."
"When my husband's grandma passed and they were going through her house, they found shoe boxes with everyone's names on them. Inside were just the most random things: toys they had played with, recipes they liked, scraps of fabric from old blankets, just little bits of their entire lives in these boxes she had been collecting for years and years.
My husband brought his home and another one, which I thought was maybe one she had started for our son, but it was for me. Obviously, she didn't have my childhood stuff, but she had recipes I liked of hers, the ultrasound picture from the baby we lost, little Beauty and the Beast trinkets (my favorite movie), purple flowers... It was so sweet and so touching to think that even though she only knew me for 10 years, she thought enough about me to put that box together. None of the other in-laws had one, just me. I loved her very much, and I truly enjoyed talking to her and hearing her stories. I never realized until then that it meant so much to her and that she cared about me that way."
"Back when my mom died, I went through what we kid's lovingly called 'mom's super secret blue box.' It was this big blue satin box she kept in the bottom drawer of her dresser and we were absolutely forbidden to go looking in it.
I opened it to discover a pile of various papers and envelopes. The papers were mostly random bits of things and more important documents like her birth certificate, baptismal cert, my dad's baptism and confirmation certs, things like that. The real treasure trove was the envelopes. The envelopes contained love letters between my mom and dad when my father was off on maneuvers when he was in the Army, and more importantly, letters sent from when my father was fighting during the Korean War.
I was hesitant to read them after I realized what they were but I went ahead anyway and discovered a whole other side to my parents."
"This was a family friend of ours. There are three sisters. Two sisters are the spitting image of their father, but the youngest looked like she was adopted. Their father had a drinking problem and beat the kids. He died when the youngest was about 5 or so.
When their mother died in her 90's, they got together to clean out the house. They went through a lot of the usual stuff, but one box had all of the kids' birth certificates and old pics in it. With the youngest daughter's birth certificate, there were pictures of her, her mother, and Father Ed, the young priest at their church. Their mother used to go get counseling from him when her husband was being abusive. The older girls remembered being at the church all the time while their mom would go to the priest house and talk with father Ed...
By this point, they didn't even have to see the resemblance between their youngest sister and Father Ed before they put it all together."
"My grandparents on my mother's side were very particular people. My grandma was the type who would come over and say something like, 'Oh, I guess you didn't have time to clean before we got here.' We loved them, but they weren't warm and fuzzy people.
After their death, my mom found this memo book where my grandparents had documented numbers of phone calls and visits from their children, along with the length of time in between. For example, 'Visit from Tom, 2 hours. 1 month since last visit.' They had also recorded every time their children or grandchildren took them out, the amount ordered by the kids/grandkids, and who paid.
Although their personalities kept us from having close relationships with them, they were who they were, and we had a chuckle over that memo book. They were odd ducks."
"My uncle had a little trouble with the law before he died and ended up serving almost a year in jail. I do want to stress he was overall a really good guy. He treated me more like a son than an uncle as my own dad left when I was really young. So anyway, he passed away and about a year later, his mom (my grandmother) passed away as well. My grandma would always stress to write him letters when he was in jail and I did, but not as much as I should have. And when she died, we were going through her closet and found a big box full of letters.
She never had much money, but apparently, she made sure to keep enough money on his books so he could afford to send as many letters as he wanted because there were tons, at least enough for 3 letters a week or so. I read a few and it was heartbreaking. How he felt horrible for missing out on time with his kids and he talked about how he missed the little things, like how me and him would toss a football around in the front yard. In nearly every one I read he said he wished I wrote him more but he didn't blame me. I was in high school and he said I was probably more concerned with girls than an uncle in jail. It seriously broke my heart.
A few days later I had the idea to go through my uncle's things and behold, every letter that my grandma wrote him was there. I could see their every conversation over that year and it really opened my eyes to how things really were back then. I didn't go through all of it, not even half as I feel it was a private thing between mother and son. Plus, I just don't know if I could handle it. I have both their urns now, we cremated them, and I keep all the letters together with them. And in case anyone was wondering, my uncle never did go back to jail and he ended up raising two beautiful daughters and a son before he died - I just wish they had more time with him."
"My sister died by suicide ten years ago. When we went to pack up her place, we found that while her house appeared immaculate, every single closet and drawer and hidden nook and cranny were hopelessly disorganized and just an utter mess. It felt like a metaphor for my sister herself - as she always appeared on the outside to be very collected and composed and together, but concealed inside she was a tangled mess. It was really heartbreaking."
"When my Dad died, I was holding his hand in the hospital. My sister and Mom held the other, and most of his family (his 3 siblings, nieces and nephews) were there. The day after we buried him, my mom hands me a letter that he wrote.
2 years before he passed, he had a double bypass and valve replacement, and he didn't expect to survive the procedure, so he wrote letters to family and friends.
The first line said it all. 'I love you and I am proud of the man you've become.'
The rest of the letter just was him telling me that my girlfriend at the time was not good for me and why he felt that way (he was correct). The day we buried him was the last day I actually responded/talked to her. She emailed me asking if why I wasn't responding to her was the death of my dad. I was mourning the loss of my Dad, whom I loved and he was more than that, he was a friend too, yet she tried to make it about her. No. Just no.
I wasn't expecting that letter and I found out lots of things when we were cleaning out his stuff. He had bought a Penn State T-shirt when I was choosing a college. I had wanted to go to architectural school and was rejected by the schools I wanted, so I was going to become a history teacher instead. Turns out a couple weeks after I sent in the stuff for Penn State, one of the schools contacted me and said that I was accepted (letter was actually dated 3 weeks before, got lost in the mail for a bit), and I went to architectural school after all. Never knew he bought that shirt until we found it cleaning out his closet. He kept a key-chain I had bought for him when I was 12. It was banged up, broken and all. It said 'Any man can be a father, it takes someone special to be a Dad.'
It's been 6 years and I miss him."
"When I reached the age of being able to read and comprehend long sentences, my mother gave me a letter that my grandfather (her dad) wrote the day I was born. My grandfather knew that he had condemned my mum and me to a crappy husband and father, but he hoped and prayed that once I came along that wouldn't be the case. Good thing that my grandpa died when I was 2 and didn't live to see how horrible my dad would turn out.
It's a crispy pale blue letter with his letterhead on top and written in his beautiful cursive handwriting, telling me how much he loved me and after he took me to visit a very revered, dying Indian priest, how I decided to open my eyes when the priest held me and smiled at him. The priest named me after one of the deities, as I was born on the 6th day of an auspicious festival in my culture. My father decided to crap over this and name me something else instead.
My mum told me when my grandpa died, I was too young to understand it but held onto his glasses and house slippers like my life depended on it. When they tried to move his chair, I camped under it and threw a tantrum. The saddest part is I don't remember anything about the man who loved me the most but he lives on in all these stories."
"My grandmother's brother was a sweet little guy. Never married. Blue collar. Tons of bowling and golf trophies. Down to earth. His name was Charles, but everyone called him Chill.
He had fought in WWII. They'd trained him to fight in the desert and then sent him to the South Pacific. This we knew. He never talked about it. He once told my mother, 'If they ever want me to fight again, I will go hide in the Ozarks and they will never find me.' So there was that.
One day he fell down some stairs and broke his neck and died.
I helped clean up his apartment. In a box in a closet, we found his medals. A lot of medals. We found a Japanese flag, badly stained and covered in signatures. Hats. His Semper Primus pin - the 1st Infantry Regiment motto 'Always First.' He had been, we found, in combat for over a year without break. It had been horrible. No doubt he had to do horrible things.
To me, he was the sweetest man I ever knew, and I believe he would have loved my Japanese wife darn near as fully and fiercely as I."
"When my parents and little sister passed away in a plane crash, my cousin was in her room and happened to find her journal. There was an entry in it from when she was 14/15 that had an entry called 'If I Died Tomorrow' that was written to me, my dad and mom that basically said how she wanted us to be happy, celebrate her life, and to move forward. I read it at their funeral and still fully believe that her words have kept me going a lot of times when I didn't think I could. I think it was what a lot of us needed to hear. She was wise beyond her years and I miss her and my parents dearly."
"I found my dad's old diary (a calendar book with space to write in) from the mid-60's. He kept it like it was a calendar and a journal.
He and my mom wound up splitting after 30 years or so, but it was so nice to find it and see how excited he was to get together and go on dates with her.
I also have his old engineering drawings. His handwriting and measurements on those pieces of paper are close to works of art.
Later on, my brother wound up with my grandfather's wallet after he passed away in the late 8'0s. It had pics of us when we were little wee ones, his drivers' license, and not much else. He was always nice to us even though he was like 50 years older than us, but that really showed how much he cared."
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