*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
My first boyfriend was the grandson of my father's former mistress. It was a strange and terrible coincidence. My father had an affair with my boyfriend's grandmother long before either of us was born.
Often, when my high school sweetheart and I were dating, he would bring up his grandmother in conversation. Whenever my mother overheard him talking about his grandmother, she scowled.
"Why do you always make that face when I mention my grandmother?" he asked my mother on over one occasion. "I feel like there's something you're not telling me."
"I'll tell you someday," my mother always promised him, but she never did.
"Why do you hate her so much?" he'd ask, but my mother never answered. She just kept scowling.
My father has always been a bit of a ladies' man, and I knew he had cheated on my mother, but to find out that he had a relationship with my first boyfriend's grandmother was a bit of a shock.
I never knew until recently. It explains a lot, actually. It explains my mother's reaction to his grandmother, and it also explains why my father always looked at me funny when I talked about my boyfriend and his family.
It was as if he knew something I didn't, some dark secret that was eating away at him, and now I know what that secret is, although I would never talk to my father about it.
We never talked about it, but I think my father felt guilty. He was always very kind to my boyfriend, even helping him with his problems. My boyfriend's grandmother died when we were in our senior year of high school, and my father went to the funeral. I remember how sad he looked when he came home. Now I know why.
My father's affair was a family secret. My mother knew about it, but she never told me. I found out by accident when I overheard my parents arguing about it one day.
"You ruined our family," my mother shouted at my father. "You had an affair with that woman and it destroyed everything." She spoke of the woman by name, and her name sounded familiar.
Then it hit me. She was talking about my first boyfriend's grandmother.
Even though we had broken up decades earlier, I perked up my ears to listen. I felt like I was on the verge of learning some big secret, and I was right.
"I'm sorry," my father said, but my mother wasn't having it. "I'll never forgive you for what you did," she told him before storming out of the room.
I was in shock. My mother had always been so tight-lipped about my father's infidelity, and I had assumed she didn't know about it, but apparently, she knew more than I did.
That was the first time I ever heard about my father's affair with my boyfriend's grandmother, and it was also the last. My parents never spoke of it again, at least not while I was within earshot.