«Write about the biggest secret you failed to keep» … that was what WP suggested as a topic. I can’t recall any big secrets that were shared with me or that I didn’t keep, but a different — rather weird — story, came to mind.

In the 80’s, I was living in a mid-sized town, not too far from Stockholm. I moved there in 1984, was unemployed at first, so I took a course … some type of computer course. Back then they were called word processors … this was before PC and Windows came into our lives.

It was a big place, a center for all kinds of education, but mainly for refugees to learn Swedish, so I met people from all over the world. That was cool and interesting, but that’s a parenthesis.

An elderly lady — let’s call her Hannele, for the sake of this story — originally from another country, but not new to Sweden, was in the same group as I. Honestly, I don’t know why she was taking this course, because she was very close to retirement age, and all of us others took it in order to get a job. Anyway, she and I became friends and started seeing each other outside of school. Hannele was married … her husband came from yet another country in eastern Europe. His job had made them travel all over the world and they had lived in many different countries.

We often had supper at their place, together with other class mates, and we tried food from all corners of the world. Hannele made her own hummus, that was ‘to die for’. 🙂

Important to this story is, that she and her husband had a very unusual family name.

This course I was taking, could have gone on for six months, but I got a really good job, so I quit. Worked in the sales department of a steel company. They had steel works in several places in Sweden, but this was just a sales office in this town.

One day, I was talking with a customer … a young man … in the purchase dept. of a company somewhere on the west coast. When we were done, talking about whatever business there was, we chatted a little … pleasantly … over the weather and things like that. The thing was, he had the same, unusual name as my friend! I mentioned that to him and he thought that was interesting, because he didn’t know that there were any other people with that name in Sweden. We hung up and I forgot all about it.

Some time afterwards … I don’t remember how long, a few weeks perhaps … I got a phone call from Hannele. She was so upset so it took me some time to figure out what the call was all about. At the same time as she was mad, she was crying but most of all angry at me.

Turns out the guy on the west coast, that I’d been talking with at work, had done some genalogy … which is very easy to do in Sweden. He’d found out that Hannele’s husband was his father, and she had no idea that he’d fathered a child … a child that even bore his name!

All her anger, disappointment and frustration was chanelled towards ME, being the, what she thought, root cause of all this, instead of her husband. Or … not instead of, but together with. She was too upset to get a meaningful discussion with, but I called her up a few months later. She somehow still blamed me for ruining her marriage and we never spoke again.


14 thoughts on “Secrets”

  1. I can relate to an initial anger, well, not really, but okay, you never know how you’d react in such a sudden discovery. But to keep on blaming you months after is ridiculous. As if you had found out a secret and had intentionally spilled the beans. Too bad about a nice friendship though.

    1. Yes, it was strange that she still … after some time … felt the same way, because she was an intelligent woman, not stupid in any way. It was a shame on the friendship … we had a good thing going, this little group of people from all over the world. The rest of us went on seeing one another as usual though, and one of them is even on my Fb today.

  2. What an interesting story. There certainly are people who would rather be blissfully ignorant. I hope you have no regrets, and I wonder what huge difference this might have made to the son and father. Better to have fostered that, (not that that was the intention) than to have never said anything.

  3. Well, that is odd. But easier to blame you than her husband. And how could you be to blame on a chance encounter.

    I do not remember telling a big secret to anyone. Been told some but kept quiet.

    1. Julie-Ann,
      It was a very strange reaction … especially as I knew the woman well, and this was so far from who she normally was.

      I thought about the topic, but couldn't come up with any secrets that I'd blown.

  4. Ignorance is bliss, they say! Very interesting story and I, for one, am hopeful that the father and son connected!

    1. Linda,
      One would hope so, for sure but I doubt the father/husband lived very long after this. He was so much older than Hannele, and seriously ill. I know that they did meet, at least…

      1. There is come comfort in knowing this. Perhaps it meant all the world to both of them to meet. You were the catalyst, I don't believe there are accidents in this universe.

  5. What an interesting story Rebekah!
    It's sad that your friend blamed you for "letting the cat out of the bag" so to speak, but you weren't to know there would be repercussions from your little chat.
    On a positive side, that man found his father – and hopefully, they have connected since.

    1. Barb,
      I could have understood while she was that upset in the beginning, but the second (and last) time we talked … that was weirder. Their marriage was ruined forever, she told me. After I wrote this blog, I checked them out in the Swedish phone book. They're no longer there so I assume they're both dead. This happened 1985 … almost thirty years ago.

      It came back to mind as the topic was about secrets… 🙂

  6. That's quite a story! There is no telling what went on before that. Maybe he had done other things. Who knows but I always find it interesting when a woman blames another woman instead of the man who did the deed. I don't find that to be the mark of a stellar person. One who would blame others.
    A lot of the time I have found people can put on a face in public that is not at all who they are. Just like on line. I probably would have reacted badly toward him at first and then gone on to find out why he felt the need to keep such a thing from me for all those years. The man and woman undoubtedly had a good marriage otherwise or they would not have been together for all that globe hopping.

    1. Suz,
      I've come across an even stranger case of blaming another, but that was too terrible to go into here. This was surprising to me … it wasn't the Hannele I knew. Never really knew the husband — he was so ill, on heavy medication and often bedridden. I was under the impression that they'd had a really good marriage and experienced a lot together.
      People put up different faces … in real life and online. I've read of several cases online where women have appeared as men. It's intriguing, but I'll never understand people.

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