It takes a very special kind of person to keep a big secret. That’s because there’s nothing people love more than to share in the delight of knowing something that no one else knows. That’s why most secrets don’t stay hidden for long.
Benjamin Franklin said “three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” So it seemed that when one woman’s husband passed on to the next world, his secret went along with him. But there was still someone else who knew…
Valerie didn’t grow up in a traditional household, though she didn’t know it at the time. When she was just 3 months old, she went to live with her grandparents. But growing up, she was told that her grandparents were her parents.
It’s not that her biological mother was completely out of the picture. Instead, she was a “family friend” who would come visit her daughter Valerie fairly often. So if her mother was around, why all the deception?…
Simply put, it was easier that way. Valerie’s biological mother was a teenager and a “night lady,” which meant that she wasn’t ready to raise her and if she’d tried, Valerie would be exposed to all kinds of unsavory things, not to mention a healthy dose of shame.
On top of that, Valerie’s biological father was just a child himself. He’d been only 15 years old when he met her mother. This all happened during the ‘50’s as well, a time where such things were considered even more scandalous than they are now…
Learning The Truth
It wasn’t until Valerie was 8 or 9 years old that she learned that the “family friend” who would often visit was indeed her real mother and her parents were her grandparents. It came as quite a shock to the little girl, who had a million questions, most of which her mother and grandparents would answer. But, she said, nobody talked about her father.
Again and again, children demonstrate the ability to take an unusual situation and just put it to the side and move on with their lives and that’s exactly what Valerie did as she grew up in the small midwestern working class town of Doylestown, Ohio. The love of her grandparents and the support of her church community helped her throughout her childhood…
As the years went by, the questions she had about her father seemed to fade away in importance as she made her way through life. After she finished school, Valerie got married and had 3 children all the while staying in Ohio. Unfortunately, that first marriage would end in Divorce
After her divorce, Valerie met a man named Percy in Akron. He was a bit older than she was but was very kind to her and to the children from her previous marriage. As their relationship developed, he also proved to be a good provider and the 2 of them got married and settled down once again in Doylestown. This time, though, there was something special about her husband…
From that day forward, Percy Spruill was a good husband to Valerie. And though they never had kids of their own, Percy was a good stepfather too. “We had a good life,” Valerie said. But because of their age difference — Percy was 15 years older — he died much sooner, when Valerie was just 40.
But after his death, Valerie began to hear some rumors about her late husband that were somehow related to her childhood. None of it seemed to make any sense until 6 years after his death, Valerie’s uncle told her something no one else had: the man that she’d married and her biological father where one and the same…
Valerie was in disbelief. How could that be true? If it was true, did Percy knowingly marry his own daughter? She never knew who her biological father was but that didn’t mean he didn’t know who she was.
In order to find out if the craziness were real, she had her DNA tested against his, using some hair from one of Percy’s old brushes she’d kept. When tests confirmed that he was in fact her father, Valerie was crushed. “It is devastating. It can destroy you,” she said. “It almost did.”…
Did He Know?
Still, an important question remained: did Percy know? It would be one cruel coincidence if the two of them had been married without knowing the true nature of their relationship but if it had been a secret he’d kept from her, that would be too much.
Unfortunately, there was no one left who could answer that question for sure. Valerie’s mother died in 1984 and her grandparents had long since passed as well. Likewise, most of Percy’s close family members had died also…
Anger And Frustration
Valerie was so filled with anger toward her husband-father and herself as well as completely frustrated with the fact that there was nothing she could do to get to the bottom of that final mystery. That anger and frustration very nearly destroyed her.
The emotional distress Valerie was experiencing manifested itself physically as well. In the time since her life was obliterated by the secret, she suffered 2 strokes and was diagnosed with diabetes, all of which, she thought, was due to the stress of her situation….
Valerie turned to therapy to try and deal with her hardships. Through that therapy, she learned to let go of the anger she felt toward herself, that it wasn’t her fault, and that she had no way of knowing.
Still there were times that Valerie believed all of the hardship had become too much to bear and she didn’t have the will to go on. But through it all, she relied on her deep and abiding faith to bring her through. “You have to have faith,” she said. “If God brought me this for, he’s not going to leave me now.”…
The final source of support for Valerie was her 3 children and 8 grandchildren. At first, she struggled with the idea of telling them because, as many people had told her after the news came out, some secrets are better left secret. But her therapist “advised me to tell my kids,” Valerie said.