I Know His Name Was Lucian

This morning I woke up thinking about my father.

I never knew him. But I know his name was Lucian.

About ten years ago a distant relative on my father’s side contacted me. I’d never heard of her, as I knew nothing about his side of the family.

She told me that she enjoyed dabbling in ancestry and thus, had discovered me. A second or third cousin possibly.

She asked if I wanted her to send me copies of photos of family members, as she hailed from my father’s side of the family.

I said yes. Sure, why not?

When the thick envelope arrived, I was a little hesitant to rip it open. Would it be hard or emotional, to see these faces I never met?

I let the thin copied photos fall out in clumps. That was what my paternal family consisted of. Clumps of faded photographs.

I saw that I had a half-brother my father had with a first wife. There were other relatives whose names I’d never heard spoken.

The photos I was most interested in were those of my father, that man who never featured in my life after my birth.

He was tall. In the photos, he seemed to angle and curve his frame over the women he stood next to as though protecting them.

Was it all for show, I wondered? Because he never seemed to stay in one place very long to be their protectors, from what I’d heard.

From the photos, I could tell he liked new cars and women. That was what I took away from those scattered photos on the table in front of me. And that my face carried remnants of his. There was a resemblance.

He had this smug smile, as though he was keeping a secret.

Both he and my mother may as well have played bit characters in the movie of my life, for all they contributed. They were just people I didn’t know and had no emotional attachment to.

But even if someone who should be vital to you was never there, that gaping hole figures largely in your life forevermore. In their absence, they left behind traces of what might have been. What they should have meant to me.

I went through the scraps of paper, pausing with those of my mother in them. Again, with him bent over her as though he was an umbrella shielding her from the world. But in the end, he was not her protector, I somehow knew.

I think that was part of his deception. The rest was probably just for the camera, this contrived persona who skipped in and out of people’s lives so easily.

The distant relative who’d sent me the photos wrote that everyone called him “Doc,” though she never knew why. A nickname. Why, I wondered? He was not a doctor.

The last place he lived just before he died in the sixties, I learned, was in a prison somewhere. I guess his deception had caught up to him at some point.

For him, in the end, there were no fancy cars with smiling women clinging to him. I think it was all just smoke and mirrors, the arm curved protectively over their shoulders.

All I really know about this person I resembled is that his name was Lucian. He was briefly there after I was born.

And then he was gone.

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37 Comments

  1. At least they gave you life, Brenda…and here you are, being a blessing to others!! Some of us who had parents, likely had my experience…when he died my grief was for what COULD have been, SHOULD have been, rather than for what was!! A rabbi told me that with some toxic parents, the best you can do is separate from them and then live the most upstanding, wonderful kind life you can because when you are good to others, that in itself is honoring of your parents. It is hard to think that we agreed on some things prior to our births, that were what became of our lives…yet, I know there are those who believe that. In some regards, I can agree with that…but did I REALLY agree to come to a very abusive dad? I wonder. Well, we all wonder from whence we came…though being I had parents all along, I wondered more about those distant ancestors. I had always been told that one of my dad’s ancient ancestors was Charlemagne…and when I came across a painting of him online, lo and behold, one brother looks JUST like him!! Amazing. Maybe your cousin can fill you in on some family health info anyway. That might be of some use.

  2. Very sad story but I know you try not to dwell on it. Please don’t because they were obviously very troubled people.
    Continue to take care of yourself as you’ve had to and remember that you are very loved. Gentle hugs, Brenda!

    1. I think of them every once in a while, but not often. So when I do or wake up and they’re on my mind, I tend to write about it.

  3. What a lovely and vulnerable post. Appearances are not always reality and that is true of many families. Sometimes things that did “not” take place become a blessing. I believe that most people do the best they can in life w what they have and maybe your birth parentsboth knew they could not properly take care of you and that you would be better off w your grandmother. The nature vs nurture discussion is always valid but hard to measure – by not being in your life, your parents may have inadvertently given you a “gift” of creativity that you have developed over the years of your life. We may not be reading your blog today had they been in your life:)

  4. Brenda, you survived it all…and with a loving heart.
    Am I remembering correctly that you had a sister show up in your life a few years ago? Maybe I dreamed it!?

  5. Thank you for sharing that, Brenda. I don’t think I ever heard your father’s story. All I knew was that neither of your parents were in your life. I’m still so sorry for that.

  6. Brenda, I’m so sorry your parents were both so unstable. Thank God you had a dependable, loving grandmother who had the privilege of raising such a wonderful woman! How many siblings do you have? Were you raised with any of them? I remember you mentioning a sister, and now a half brother. Is there anyone you’ve stayed in touch with? I really love these posts, although I realize they might be difficult to write about. Thank you for sharing a little of your past with us.

  7. Some of us had a father “present” for most of our lives and yet the connection was just as distant as yours.

    You may have lucked out not having this person bring his bad side into your life (even though it’s sad to never know the good).

    I am like my father in many ways. It’s a burden sometimes to carry around the inherited traits of someone who did you more harm than good psychologically.

    I was so relieved when my father died. A constant source of disapproval & disdain was gone. It’s sad to say that when I know many women have beloved fathers and won’t understand.

    Loss comes in many forms. It’s how we respond & take care of ourselves that counts.

    1. Well said, Kate! I, too, think Brenda may have escaped a life of turbulence when he moved on. As it’s said: “better to want something you don’t have than have something you don’t want.” I’m glad Brenda wasn’t caught up in the behavior that landed him in prison.

    2. You are absolutely right about that. And he probably did me a favor. I’d rather have the gaping hole instead of horrible memories.

  8. Brenda this is very interesting and good. Don’t be sad. Possibly you could begin a relationship with the person who sent this to you, or your half brother.
    Sincerely,
    Diane

  9. Brenda, it must have felt so strange looking at those pictures yet knowing the relationship
    but having such a disconnect. Like the others have said, you had a great grandmother who did her best. Times were tough when we were raised.

    1. It’s strange, yes. But there is no feeling of connection. Nothing to feel. There was never a loss because he was never there.

  10. It’s a good thing you had your Granny to guide you through life. She did a wonderful job! You are a brilliant, beautiful, compassionate person!

  11. A poignant post … a feeling for what might have been. You have come far in your life’s journey and made great progress. You are a strong and brave woman. Congratulations.

  12. I’m sooo glad u had a loving grandmother that was always there for u Brenda!
    Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

    Yesterday my comments disappeared twice before I could hit send!

  13. Our birth and childhood stories are very similar. I completely understand your feelings and what you wrote. I have the same situation with my birth father.

  14. We come into these lives with our karmic agreements with other souls already planned. You can forgive your parents, because they did exactly what was agreed upon before your soul entered this dimension. You can thank them for carrying out such heartbreaking roles for you so that you might learn your life lessons and move forward, off the wheel of 84. They had difficult lives also.

  15. I am so sorry Brenda; I cannot imagine what you went thru and that you are left with so many unanswered questions.

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