Soap Operas like General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives and countless others are riddled with secrets. Someone is secretly married to the daughter of someone who was thought to be killed in a volcano accident many years ago but was saved by a mysterious person who turned out to be the person’s long-lost sister of a fourth cousin! Whew…and that’s all in one episode! SECRETS, for the most part, are the glue that hold most soap opera stories together and keeps the viewers entertained and glued to their TV.
In real life, secrets might not be the ‘glue’ that keeps a family together however it does add a touch of intrigue. Our family had a few secrets. Some were solved easily, some took time and others, to this day, remain a mystery.
My grandfather was a gifted tailor. He could take one look at your body, make a pattern, and within a few days, hand you a custom-made suit, coat or jacket that rivaled any garment in the most exclusive high-end store. He also had a secret or should I say, a secret hiding place. Even during the depression, he provided well for his family of five. He was also smart enough to know that the tides of good fortune can change at any time, so he had a contingency plan. One day, he pulled his son aside and told him of the ‘stash’ hidden behind a specific brick in his sewing room in the basement. His instruction was clear, “Should I die, take care of the family.” When Pop suddenly passed away, the services concluded and life returning to the new normal, my uncle remembered the ‘stash’. When he had a moment alone, he removed the brick, took out the sealed envelope and laughed his head off! The ‘stash’ was $200.00! Pop’s secret and love were revealed.
All her life, my Aunt Kay lived in the same house with her parents. She was a smart, beautiful and professional woman who worked as an Executive Secretary to the CEO of a clothing manufacturer. Kay was a private person, seldom sharing, even with my Mom, her sister and closest friend, whom she dated, where she went and details of her ‘personal life’. When she died at the age of 92, Jeff and I were tasked with cleaning out her home. In one of the drawers in her office, we found her calendar. Notations were made on all the important dates – birthdays, anniversaries, and doctor appointments. Also noted, every Tuesday, was a shorthand symbol. Kay had a secret. My mind went into overdrive. Could she be meeting someone every Tuesday? Where did she go? What did she do? I wanted so much for there to be an exciting tale to go along with the shorthand for you see, Kay never married and devoted her life to her family, friends and profession leaving little time for self-indulgences. We kept searching and found another calendar with similar notations and her shorthand ‘code’. The secret was revealed. Every Tuesday was re-cycle day. Sigh.
The most perplexing family secret that has never been revealed and probably never will be, is why cousin Louise had a rusted revolver hidden in a china cabinet and eight headless ax handles hanging in her garage – all discovered upon her passing. Secrets!
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.” What are your secrets?