Originally published: Aug 25, 2016
Because I saw him irregularly when I was a child, my longing for my father’s love and physical presence was a mainstay throughout my long youthful episode. His constant absence at home intensified my deep devotion to him. Papa’s actual residence became an enduring mystery to me — as much as his whereabouts which I felt sure nobody really knew, not even his first legal family. “Where does his heart find loyal shelter?” Secretly, I might’ve been carrying the notion there was a third woman in the picture — another woman whom my father trusted could provide the right cushion for a full rest down of his body and spirit after the night had fallen. A notion of mine which the years to come would prove to be true.
Fast forward to more than a dozen years:
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 hidden admiration: her strength, diligence, resourcefulness, attentiveness. Knowing my father, I wasn’t surprised she turned out to be the kind of woman he was proud of. Their partnership began when she became his all-around assistant at the nightclub he used to own. They were together for the longest years.
But it was a love put to an end by the complexity of our family situation.
Somehow my mother was able to convince my sister Lucrecia’s daily visits and presence in the house to look after my ailing father were ruining her image to the neighbors. The issue of money got in the way, too, as my sister had all the authority; the dispute between them got uglier and uglier. I had to remain civil in my dealings with Lucrecia and kept my distance so as not to add to the convoluted condition and out of fear I’d earn the combined wrath of my mom and my sister.
My sis and my mother made the joint sudden and final 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 outcome: She was given an amount of cash as settlement. She had no choice but to completely stay away from the man she loved and took care of for four decades or more.
My father, who was 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 decision. And 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 this incessant 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 could sense how it broke my father’s heart so much. He thought Lucrecia simply got tired and abandoned him. I couldn’t tell him. His knowing the truth would be pointless. It’d devastate him, not to mention the family feud would escalate and things could only have gotten worse. His downward spiral, however, began as he moved on to heavy alcohol consumption; which my sister, my brother, and my mother came to allow – 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.