You never know what interesting, and often entertaining, stories you’ll turn up when you start asking questions. This long Twitter thread is a prime example.

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Nicole Cliffe
‏@Nicole_Cliffe
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My dad thought HIS dad was dead until I was a year old. Then he found him in the Toronto phone book.
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My mom was doing my family tree and started asking where he was buried and what he died of.

“Huh, dunno. Mom just said he was dead.”
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“Doesn’t your mom lie about everything, all the time?”

“Yeah.”

(opens phone book for Canada’s most populous city: boom, there he is)
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“Mom, why did you tell us Dad was dead?” “Well, I hadn’t heard from him in a while, and divorce is such an unpleasant topic.”
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So, my dad calls his dad and is like “uh, are you the Ralph Cliffe who was married to Horrible Mother?” (He was.)
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So, my dad went to visit him and then we went to visit him and we always brought him a carton of DuMauriers and he bought us Mint Aeros.
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Later I was like “Dad, you know your dad didn’t think YOU were dead, didn’t that bug you?”
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And he said “listen, no human being who had the ability to get away from my mother would have passed it up. I have no hard feelings.”
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The real fun coda to this story (there are two, you’re being so patient!) came a year or so later, when my mom found a wedding pic.
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A wedding pic of my dad’s mom, not to my dad’s dad, not to her new husband. An older one. “Who’s that?” she asked her.
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Turns out she had married a British soldier during WW2, decided she hated England, got on a troop ship and came home. Never divorced him.
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(Divorce being unpleasant.) So she just took that one as a mulligan. He wrote her a lot of letters, she ignored them.
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So, she was bigamously married to my dad’s dad, and then later to her new husband.
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Now, her new husband was a lot of fun, and a great grandpa to my brother and me. Buncha weird tattoos, missing a thumb.
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He was Latvian. We would sit on his lap and play with his thumb stump and watch WWII movies.
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But in the late 1980s he started to get really squirrelly and paranoid. Which, in retrospect, was because of the Deschênes Commission.
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(Canada had started looking more firmly at the war records of German soldiers who slid on into Canada in the fifties.)
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But then he died and no one wanted more Unpleasantness, so there you go.
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Anyway, she was one of the worst moms of all time and definitely the worst wife and she and I hung out 24/7 and she let me smoke.
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And we watched Young and the Restless together and Biography on A&E and I often miss her. And my dad somehow turned out great.
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Thank you for listening to my Canadian family saga, in which avoiding Unpleasantness led to bigamy and marrying Nazis and abandonment.
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OH, I forgot the best part! On my dad’s dad’s deathbed, he said “Bill, I have secrets!” and my dad was like “Jesus, Dad, let’s not.”
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“Your sister? Not mine. You remember [some guy]?”
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So, a few months later, my dad said “hey, sis, do you remember [some guy]?”
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And she said, “oh, yeah! He took me to the circus once, randomly.”
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And THAT is definitely the end of this story.
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I do not feel bad airing the family laundry like this, because that woman may have hated Unpleasantness, but she fucking LOVED Drama.
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The only thing you really miss out on by hearing this story via Twitter is me saying “the Mounties are after me!” in a thick Latvian accent.

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