Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Making of a Family Secret -- Even When It's Not

After posting yesterday's post, I wanted to relate a personal experience that shows how easy it can be for a family "secret" to develop, even when those involved don't think of it as a secret.  Yesterday I discussed the fact that in 1974, my fiancee and I called off our wedding one week before it was supposed to occur.  Two years later, we were married.  This time it seemed like the right thing to do.  My husband and I had one daughter, the love of both of our lives, but unfortunately ended up getting a divorce three and a half years later. 

After a few years as a single parent, I met and started dating my husband, Bill.  My daughter was not quite three when we started dating.  Bill and I have been married almost 25 years and have been together for thirty.  No one in my family in any way thinks of my divorce and subsequent marriage as a "secret". 

But we forget!  A few of my older nieces and nephews knew my first husband.  One of my nieces even traveled with my daughter for a visit my ex and his second wife in another state where they live. 

One family Easter dinner, I realized that many of my nieces and nephews were born after I was remarried.  To them, their Uncle Bill was my daughter's father and had always been my husband as far as they knew. I thought it might be a good time to explain to them that I had been married once before, that Bill was my second husband, that he was not the biological father of my daughter, and that my daughter and I had different last names.  You would have thought I dropped a bomb!  What was a well-known fact to the older family members was totally unknown to the younger ones.  Had I not thought to bring it up, I now wonder if they would have viewed this as a "family secret" once they became aware of the facts.

The point is that it wasn't a secret -- but to them it may have seemed like it was.  It just makes me wonder how many things we think of as "secrets" were not perceived as secrets by the people living their lives. 

I'm glad I had explained this to my nieces and nephews because it made it a little easier when my daughter got married and was escorted down the aisle by both her father and stepfather.  Many of them had never met her Dad since he lives out of state.  I also have to commend both men who have consistently done what was best for my daughter. They were both so proud that day.

Father, Daughter, and Stepfather

"Secrets" Photo Credit:  Unable to Credit, Google Images had over 10,000 "hits".


  1. Very true! Great post mom! And it is cool to see the wedding photo again. I think my son has aged me; I can't imagine looking that glowing ever again...Liz

  2. Wow! What a tribute to the two mature men who could be self confident enough to share the day to make it a happy one for their daughter -- and I count both men as her father -- as she obviously does and did at her wedding. A lovely reminder of what family really means.

    Thanks for another thoughtful comment at Family Archaeologist. Re handwriting -- you are so right that future generations will be as unable to read what we consider totally legible handwriting as I am stymied by the ancient German writing of my grandparents and their friends/relatives. I was reading my dad's diary (beautiful Palmer-style handwriting -- neat and precise) and showed it to my 25 year old son. He couldn't read it at all -- and their handwriting (because they are always on the keyboard) is TOTALLY illegible -- like 3rd graders - or chicken scratching!


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