Her name was Lucrecia. Both her looks and her intelligence were nothing to write home about. Unsophisticated, uneducated – unmistakably a native from some faraway province.
But it was her character or perhaps her bearings that won my secret admiration. Resourceful, strong, diligent, alert.
I remained civil in my dealings with her, though, and kept my distance – for fear I’d earn the combined wrath of my mother and my sister.
This impression I’ve held since way back I can’t help not include in this memoir of mine. Because deep inside, I had more appreciation for the woman whom my father claimed he had mentored than I’ve had for my mother. A year apart in age, if my mother would be found watching TV all day and with nary a care for a worthwhile hobby to cultivate, Lucrecia would be found hanging her finished cross-stitched pieces on the wall and would think of the projects she’d pursue next.
Knowing my father, I wasn’t surprised she turned out to be the kind of lady he was proud of. They were together for the longest years. Their partnership started when she became his all-around assistant at the nightclub he used to own.
But it was a love put to an end by the complexity of our family situation.
My father entrusted his life savings to my sister. – his favorite child. The one who, he admitted, gave him pride for being the most successful in her career and the one who was able to marry into a rich family.
Somehow my mother was able to convince my sister Lucrecia’s daily visits and presence in the house to look after my father were ruining her image to the neighbors. Inevitably, the issue of money got in the way as well. My sister had all the authority so I had no say as to such family matters and simply received second-hand news as to the dispute between the two sides that just got uglier and uglier.
My sister and mother made a sudden resolution to ban Lucrecia from the house. The latter had to give in but not without a fight (taking her case to the municipal hall). The ending: she was given an amount of cash as a settlement. She had no choice but to completely stay away from the man she loved and took care of for maybe four decades or more.
My father, who became bedridden had no inkling as to the events that were taking place. I was told to be tight-lipped about the reason for Lucrecia’s unexpected disappearance. My sister persuaded me Lucrecia’s permanent absence would be best for our father and the rest of us. Since my voice had been deemed weightless for as long as I could remember, it’d be futile to go against their decisions. Besides, I had my own drama to deal with as a single parent caring for a sickly child and all. I was fed up with my own circumstances and tried to find solace at whatever temporary pleasures that would come my way. I also wanted to be happy, not be miserable due to constant flesh and blood theatricals; I myself couldn’t understand what I’d been feeling and going through. Yes, excuses that I have come to regret and currently pay for.
I never saw Lucrecia again.
I knew it broke my father’s heart so much. He no doubt thought she simply got tired and abandoned him. There was no way I could tell him. His knowing the truth would be pointless. It’d devastate him, not to mention the family feud would certainly escalate and things could only have gotten worse. His downward spiral, however, began as he turned his attention toward alcohol consumption; which my sister, my brother, and my mother tolerated – he was in his late 80’s anyway, they rationalized. I bid him to stop drinking – but he expressed his wish to end his life. He was clearly committing suicide.
Except on Father’s Day, nobody else really comes to visit my father’s grave. I have no idea what has happened to Lucrecia. She would visit from time to time if she had known. She must not know for sure where the love of her life now rests in peace.