The definition of the word "secret": something kept hidden or unexplained : mystery something kept from the knowledge of others or shared only confidentially
Most of the time, a secret is a bit of history kept hidden for a reason. Maybe because the people involved are ashamed...or embarrassed....or they're trying to protect somebody else.
Or, at least, that's what they tell themselves.
In the case of Roland and Edna's secret -- we'll never know WHY they kept this secret...
But here it is.
Edna was NOT Roland's first wife.
He was married before he joined the Army. It was World War I, and Roland went to serve in France. While he was overseas, his young bride died in the influenza epidemic of 1918.
Writing about this situation made me curious...
From the National Archives:
World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.
The plague emerged in two phases. In late spring of 1918, the first phase, known as the "three-day fever," appeared without warning. Few deaths were reported. Victims recovered after a few days. When the disease surfaced again that fall, it was far more severe. Scientists, doctors, and health officials could not identify this disease which was striking so fast and so viciously, eluding treatment and defying control. Some victims died within hours of their first symptoms. Others succumbed after a few days; their lungs filled with fluid and they suffocated to death.
The plague did not discriminate. It was rampant in urban and rural areas, from the densely populated East coast to the remotest parts of Alaska. Young adults, usually unaffected by these types of infectious diseases, were among the hardest hit groups along with the elderly and young children. The flu afflicted over 25 percent of the U.S. population. In one year, the average life expectancy in the United States dropped by 12 years.
Nobody will ever know why Roland and Edna kept his first wife a secret -- it doesn't seem like anything either one of them should have been ashamed of.
Unfortunately, Roland's family had lived in the same small town for generations. His story was well known....
And what do "they" always say? "You know how people talk"..
My Mom, Joyce (their middle child), was 17 years old when a girl she went to school with taunted her with this "secret".
Mom didn't believe it. She was furious with the girl who was spreading these lies about her father...and she was adamant in her defense of him.