A person's true self isn't fully revealed until their secrets are exposed. The people in these stories thought they knew their loved ones but found something after their death that really surprised them.
"My grandfather wasn't really in our lives, he was abusive towards our grandmother and when they divorced he moved across the country and became a truck driver.
Growing up my mother never really saw him and the one time she did he was sober but admitted his dry humor made it hard to talk to him. However when my sister and I were born she put an effort to send him pictures and Christmas cards.
Throughout his life he never talked to her or reached out and assumed he just never cared and we were on better relations with his brother anyway.
However, in October of 2018 he ended up passing away and my mother came up to help his grieving brother sort through my grandfather's things. She ended up finding every wall covered in our baby photos and cards we sent him through out the years along with the few our aunts and uncles sent him.
My mother became so heartbroken because throughout her entire life she assumed he hated his past or just disliked us but he probably just didn't know exactly how to interact with us."
"I helped an ex girlfriend (well, ex fiancee, but yeah), clean out her stepdad's house in the early 1990s after he passed away suddenly. This is the man she considered her father - he and her mom married when she was very young (never knew her bio dad), and he was the most amazing husband and father. He never treated her differently than the kids he and her mom had later, and doted on her mother, only to be shattered by her passing about 5 years before.
We went to his house with her siblings and their significant others to sort things out. She and I were in his 'hobby room' full of radios, small electric motors, model trains...that sort of thing when her younger sister came running down the stairs.
She had been in the 'guest' room and found boxes of adult toys, light bondage gear, leather straps....and a photo album. The photo album was full of pictures of himself and his wife at swinger parties, bondage parties, photos of people she knew as 'aunts' and 'uncles' in various states of undress with plates of what we assumed to be illegal substances. Most of the photos were from the mid 70s to mid 80s. She was born in the late 1960s, and her siblings all around the times of the photos....
That was a fun day."
"My friend's mum died about seven years ago and as my friend is an only child I thought it would be nice to help her clear out her mum's place. The mum was a bit of a hoarder and was in her early 80s when she died. Fortunately, my friend was out of the room when I found a jar with 40-year-old spermicide in it while going through an old trunk. I knew it was that old as the woman was divorced in her 40s and never got over the failed marriage, plus you don't really need birth control of that nature in your 50s, etc. It was in a glass container and had separated into layers.
I quickly tossed it into the garbage bag before my friend came back in and never told her."
"I found a really spooky diary at my great aunt’s house.
It had entries like 'I murdered the neighbor just now', and 'Your mother was the victim today'. Needless to say my wee aunt is unlikely to have murdered anyone (or to have been so nonchalant about it), so it must be code for something, but for what?"
"When my grandfather died we found three separate briefcases in his loft.
Briefcase 1: around 20k in it
Briefcase 2: around 50k in it
Briefcase 3: documentation and photo ID for different names but my grandfather’s face.
My dad and uncle finished the clear out process by themselves and have never told me if they found anything else or what they did with the briefcases."
"A bit of background first... Since I was very young my father lived half way across the world and my mother didn't let him see me. She also got together with a psychopath who hated me. My childhood was truly terrible, to the extent that I was suicidal before my age was in double digits. My two grandmothers were a total lifeline, and without them I really don't think I'd be alive. I was put into a children's home when I was 14.
When my maternal Grandmother died, my Uncle found a folder with my name on it. Inside were letters between her and my other Grandmother. They were conspiring to make sure that I had at least some positivity in my life, and arranging with each other about who would invite me to stay with them next. Those letters were truly beautiful.
There was also a watch, given to her by Saddam Hussein, but we knew about that. She was an interesting woman!"
"I was asked to help clean out my friends grandmother's house after her death since the family was planning funeral and none wanted to go to her apartment without her.
I expected little glass tea cups and doilies. You know old lady stuff. No she had a tactical army knife on her coffee table, survival gear in the closet, books on war and maritime adventures on her bookshelf, sports gear, really old wonder woman comics, and a bunch of cool unexpected stuff. Made me wish I'd met her before she went she must have been so fun."
"I live in eastern Europe and my grandma was in concentration camp as a child.
After she passed away, we were cleaning here apartment and we have found crazy amounts of dry food hidden, tons of sugar, pasta, rice etc. Decades after the war and camp she was still preparing for famine striking one day. It was the saddest thing to find."
"My maternal grandmother and her mom and little brother fled Nazi Germany when my grandmother was about 5 and came to Canada.
Grandpa passed away a couple of years before she passed from cancer, and we found an old box full of paperwork from Germany, things like travel papers that have the Nazi insignia stamped on them.
Had a moment of panic, but that’s just the way the government was then everything had that stamp on it, turns out that they (despite being Aryan) hated what the Nazi party was doing and my great grandpa had joined the resistance. Him doing so put great grandma and the family at great risk so, he mailed them a letter which was basically; you need to get out you’re being watched but you can’t let them know you’re about to leave, act as if you are going to do some shopping but head here.
He had set up an escape plan for them that eventually took them to the European coast where they got on a ship to Canada, all without great grandpa or any personal items (they took nothing as they just had to make it seem as if they were popping out for groceries). They had no idea if great grandpa was okay, didn’t hear from him for over a year.
He later sent a letter he was okay, had been fighting Nazis but was now coming to join them in Canada. I have no clue how he knew where to find them, as they landed in Newfoundland and made their way to Saskatchewan, but they made it."
"My grandfather had major heart problems most of his life. Had to take nitro on the regular and his case was written about in a medical journal. The doctors told him that he should quit drinking 100% however that a 'nip' here and there wouldn't hurt him.
After he passed away while we were renovating the spare bathroom for my grandmother we found a hole in the floor underneath the bathroom vanity. Within this hole was wooden cylinder with a lid that my grandfather had made. In it was a bottle of Jack and written on the inside of the lid was a reminder that my grandfather wrote. 'Remember, Just a Nip, unless it's a hard day then take 2'. Grandma knew nothing of it, we all thought that grandpa had quit drinking entirely after he was told to stop."
"My mother's notebook.
She took her life in July some years back. In the week leading up to her funeral I found her notebook. She'd decided as far back as the previous October that she was going to kill herself. She practiced writing out the notes she was going to leave to various family members. They started out shaky and emotional. Over the months the cursive tightened up, there were fewer tear stains on the pages. In the end, at least from the note she left me, that writing was rock solid."
"30-40 years ago, my father used to work at a place that made metal figurines, medallions, etc. When I went through my dad's stuff last year, I found that he stole about 10 ounces of silver from his old employer. The weird thing is that one ounce was hidden in a ski boot, a few were in a safe deposit box, a few more hidden in luggage.
I sold it to a 'cash for gold' guy and told him the story. He said that silver prices shot up in the last decade. Back when my dad stole it, he risked his job and criminal charges for less than $50."
"After my grandparents passed away the entire (very large) family went to the house to 'divvy up' their things.
I found an old military ID in a wallet that belonged to my uncle who passed when I was a baby with a large fish hook inside of it. Turns out the fishhook had a vivid memory attached for my Dad. While fishing, my uncle was hooked in the face with it and my Grandpa had him bite down on a stick when he removed it. It was the only thing my dad took from the house."
"I found a lock box under my mother's bed.
The papers stuck on the very bottom verified that she gave up her first child for adoption when she was 16. It was a closed adoption and I can't locate the man but I have a 39 year old brother. All I've been able to find out is that he was conceived by assault, by the man my aunt married. My long lost half brother is also the half brother of my cousins. And my aunt is a piece of trash for marrying that man."
"When my dad passed away, peacefully but unexpectedly, we were in his apartment the next day just closing things down and waiting to talk to the landlord about when we could move his things out.
I was looking for some documents in his closet when I bumped his bathrobe (yes, my dad was very 'Lebowski') and heard a crinkling noise. I reached in the pocket and pulled out a huge bag of weed.
This was not a complete surprise to me. But it's notable because, standing next to me, was a police officer who was there to ask some questions for the coroner, file a report, etc. Keep in mind, this is almost 20 years ago and way before even medical grass was legal.
I was standing there just looking at the cop, and sheepishly said, 'Uhhh...this isn't mine. I assume that's obvious.' To his credit, he said, 'If you put it back until I leave, I didn't see a thing. You guys are dealing with way too much already.' I don't remember his name, but that cop will always have my respect.
And that's the story of how I "inherited" about 2 ounces of weed..."
"My dad used to be a spy. I found various passports with different names on them after he passed away, as well as press passes, a variety of business cards, etc.
One stood out. He always told us if you want to break into a lock, be the locksmith who 'fixes' the lock, not the person who breaks in, that way you can get in whenever you want. I found a stack of Dad & Sons locksmiths business cards."
"My much older cousin died last week, and my ma and I just spent the entire weekend going through his apt, with my pa moving the boxes we prepared. He was lonely, living in a care home about 5 hours away from his closest family, which was us.
I was going through all his paperwork when my ma started laughing from the living room. The kind of laughter that starts loud, goes on forever, and then ends up sad. Right in front of his TV was an 8 inch high stack of adult video DVDs. Not cases, an 8-inch stack of just discs. I ended up sending her to smoke a cig outside while I threw them out. I should have checked for more, but we ended up finding more stashed everywhere.
I think it was the only thing that kept her going this weekend, the laughter."
"After my gran passed, my mum found a small notebook with dates and descriptions of every time my uncle had done something terrible to my gran/grandad. For example- 'wasn't allowed in to see the grandchildren on their birthday, the presents we bought were taken from us at the door and we were shooed away'.
It was so sad reading that notebook, and that was one of the tamer excerpts.
I'm the youngest granchild, and on the very last page, my date of birth, time etc was recorded, very bittersweet."
"My parents had a very difficult marriage. They married in the 50s and she was a mostly-Catholic so divorce, while often discussed, was never actually accomplished. They fought, sometimes physically and he was often and very publicly unfaithful to her.
After they both passed I was going through her things and found a very elaborate Mother's Day card given to her by my father. He even wrote a little affectionate message, which was quite unlike him. It was dated when I was about two, their only child. My father actually worked for a greeting card company and it was super elaborate with its own little box.
For whatever reason I looked underneath and there was a letter dated around the same time. It had been read and reread so many times, folded and refolded so many times, that it was literally falling apart and I almost couldn't read it (though you can be certain I tried lol). It was apparently from a lover of my mother's (or would be lover, she was quite conservative in that regard) deep in discussions of how she could leave my father and please please please would she. I put it back where my mother hid it. I had a lot of thoughts about it, not the least of which was the small but probably rewarding jolt my mother got from hiding a love letter behind one of my father's bombastic and totally foolish attempts to hide what a prick he was."
"This is kind of confusing but ill try to make it easy to understand. My family decided to move to Chicago so my grandparents could move in with us but it was 2008 so our house wasn’t selling, but my mom and I moved anyway and rented an apartment while my dad worked at his job in NY (he couldn’t find a job in Chicago at the time) and stayed in our house. He would visit for a week out of the month.
He died unexpectedly while visiting us after about 6 months of this arrangement. Without him working and the house not selling we decided to just move back. I came back first so I was the first person to go to the house since my dad was last there. The weirdest thing was that there was absolutely nothing in the fridge except an unopened bag of bird seed. I have no memories of either parent feeding birds and I have no idea why it was there. Or why a man who was supposed to be living there and didn't know he was going to die, did not have any food in the fridge. I assume he must have been staying at a hotel or something but he was very fiscally responsible and we didn’t have any spare money at the time. No idea."
"I was an in-home caregiver for nearly eight years for Thelma. She was in her eighties, had southern roots and was quite a character.
She would have these terrible panic attacks. Since my home was only a few blocks away; she’d call me night or day and I soon became her ‘wahmbulance.’ She would even have the other caregivers call me when they were on duty and she had a panic attack (which ticked off a few other caregivers). I had figured out the best way to get her out of her panic was to ask her questions about her life. For eight years, she told me the sweetest, most joyful, funniest and also heartbreaking stories that were her life. I had grown very close to Thelma by the time she passed away.
She once asked me help her clean out clothing in her closets. She had been a seamstress and had three closets just bulging with beautiful clothing. The task quickly became impossible because every piece of clothing I’d bring out; she’d proceed to tell me entire story about what was happening in her life when she wore that item. If every piece of clothing had a story attached, it would take years to finish the closets. I loved her stories, didn’t want to hurt her feelings but also had to figure out a way to get the job done.
I finally decided to get three different boxes and told her she had 10 seconds to decide on each item of clothing. The boxes were marked as follows: (1) Donate, (2) Sell and (3) Beautiful Stories. We finally made progress and you can guess which box filled up the fastest.
Back to my original story; Thelma passed away one day after my birthday in 2014. Can you believe she promised me she would not die on my birthday because she didn’t want my birthday to have any sad moments associated? As I said, Thelma was a character… a sweet one.
Thelma’s estranged son Richard, asked me to help sort out her home after her passing. As we were going through Thelma’s belongings; I’d run across items that triggered some of her Beautiful Stories. I would relay the stories to Richard as we were sorting her property. Richard was amazed I knew almost everything about his mom’s life. Many of the stories he had never even heard.
During the sorting, he found a small shoebox in the back of a bottom drawer. Upon opening the box, he began shrieking, 'Oh my god, oh my god, what the heck is this?' I quickly came over to see why he had reacted so crazy.
Inside the box was a morbid collection of about 20 teeth, clutches of different colored hair in little plastic bags, a bunch of what looked like fingernail clippings in plastic baggies, and a four-inch dried and twisted up stalk of something with a bow-clip attached in the middle.
It took me a moment, but then I remembered Thelma had told me the story about this box. It really hadn’t registered with me when she told me about the box originally; but, there it was. I must’ve thought she was joking; but, no, she wasn’t. Asking him to calm down, I told him I knew about the box and suggested we take it into the other room. We took it into the kitchen and sat down over a cup of tea... we really needed a break anyway.
We opened the box together and I began taking out the items one by one. Upon closer inspection, you could see these very tiny markings or labels on almost every item.
The teeth; they were Richard’s baby teeth and his brother Ron’s baby teeth (Ron passed away a year before Thelma) and apparently the tooth fairy had helped Thelma collect each one.
The bags of hair were all labeled differently; My sister Jane funeral 1947, Ron 1st haircut 1950, Rich 1st haircut 1953, Mom funeral 1962, Aunt Mabel funeral 1964, sister Dorothy Jane funeral 1965, etc.
The fingernail clippings were labeled similarly to the bags of hair but included clippings from her late husband, her father and her son Ron also.
The last item was the dried up thing with the bow clip attached. It was labeled My Baby Rose funeral 1947. Thelma’s baby girl Rose, had died within a few hours of her birth in 1947. It was Rose’s actual umbilical cord with a child’s bow-shaped hair clip clamped onto it. Thelma had told me about her baby Rose during one of her panic attack stories. Rich never even knew his mom had a daughter before he and his brother were born. Thelma had never told him. Over his entire life, she never once mentioned he had an older sister. Considering what a prolific storyteller Thelma was; losing her baby daughter must’ve been so painful to her that she never even told her own sons.
While Richard originally recoiled from the strange collection in the box; he now relished in its meaning and why his mother had selected each item to place in that box. Even after her death, Thelma’s still telling new Beautiful Stories. I miss you Thelma, 1926-2014."