6. Grandpa has some explaining to do.
“My grandfather and his brothers were arrested during Prohibition for making and distributing bootleg alcohol as part of a major underground project. I discovered this while doing a school project at the library in high school which gave me access to old newspaper archives. I obviously searched for my last name. The first hit matched my grandfather and his siblings.”
7. Their family dinner must not be awkward at all.
My dad doesn’t know that I know that I have two younger brothers and a sister.
I’m also trying to look for them.”
8. Stick with the shortened version.
“All this time my family thought that my weird Hungarian last name meant ‘boat builder.’ Well, recently we were enlightened to learn that the closest meaning is actually ‘man who goes around the village at night and picks up the poop buckets from doorsteps.’
9. At least the west coast is warmer.
“The only reason my family is in California instead of New York is because my dad’s father wanted to follow his mistress (which nobody knew about until he died) to California, so he uprooted his entire family and made them move over here.”
10. “Both women had made a suicide pact.”
“I am named after my great aunt. I was told by my mother and my grandmother that she died a few years before I was born in a terrible motorcycle accident. I was also told never to bring up my great aunt’s name around my great grandmother as the loss of her daughter still troubled her. Understandable. Nothing was ever mentioned or said and I grew up understanding only the barest of details about her and her passing. A little odd to not know much about the person I was named after, but, whatever.
When I was 24, my great grandmother passed away. At the meal after her wake, my great uncle gets drunk and starts letting all the family secrets fly out.In passing, he mentioned my great aunt’s suicide and everyone at the table solemnly nodded their heads, except for me. ‘What suicide?’ I asked, ‘Gran told me she died in a motorcycle accident.’
Yeah, that was the cover story,’ he replied, ‘Your great grandmother was too embarrassed to tell anyone what really happened and she had to explain the closed-casket at her daughter’s funeral.
I came to find out my great aunt was a lesbian and in love with a woman from her university. The other woman felt the same way and they hatched plans to figure out a way to be together without their parents knowing. When my great grandmother discovered their plans, she went mental and sent my great aunt half way across the country to separate the two. Little did she know that both women had made a suicide pact that if this were to happen, they would shoot themselves in the head, which they did. My great grandmother, in her homophobia, caused two young women, in love, to kill themselves.
Apparently she never forgave herself for what she did and it haunted her till the day she died. After I found out the truth, I was first incredulous that my entire family had lied to me about the origin of my name, and second, I was deeply disturbed that to ease my great grandmother’s guilt and shame everyone accepted the lie.
Since then, I tell as many people the truth as are willing to listen so that my great aunt’s memory is served. Which is why I am posting this here. Every year since I found out, I have attended Pride. I donate to LGBT charities. I volunteer for LGBT organizations. All in her memory. If certain resources and volunteer organizations existed then as they do now, I might have a totally awesome, motorcycle-riding, great aunt to hang out with.”