Grandma Might Not Tell You

Relatives will not tell you everything. Face this and accept it. Generally there are two main reasons that people don’t tell you something:

  • they really didn’t know about it
  • they hope you don’t find out about it

There are a variety of reasons people tell you things that are incorrect, but generally those fall into two broad categories:

  • they were told something incorrect
  • they hope a wrong story will lead you astray so that you don’t find discover something

Try and avoid ruining a relationship with a living family member just “to get an answer.”

My one grandmother told me she never knew her uncle committed suicide. She also told me a man who I thought was her mother’s first cousin was not related to her mother. It turns out he was. What she actually knew is hard to say at this point. My other grandmother knew about her step-grandmother but never mentioned her to me and also knew more about her elusive grandmother than she told me. In both cases something “slipped” out later that indicated she knew more than she told me. It was not worth an argument.

Write down what a relative tells you, rendering it as accurately as you can. Indicate clearly who the relative was and when you were told. Then go from there.

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