My mother said that, yes , her mother did tell her that her father once came to take her back.
One day sometime before before the Lubignac's fled to Kentucky Pierre showed up at Nanny Stanton's door to take Florence home. And Florence wanted with all her heart to leave Nanny Stanton's and go back to her own family. But she was so angry at her parents and so hurt that they gave her away that she refused to go with her father, who then left without her.
I wonder if Florence's refusal to go with her father was just the acting out of a childish wish to punish her parents? I wonder if she was holding out for her father to coax her, to make her go so that she could hold on to her anger until she was ready to let it go? Did she believe that her father would surely come back for her again and that next time, though still making her displeasure known, she would agree to leave with him?
But her father never again came back for her. And as he walked away from his daughter for the last time did Pierre Lubignac feel his sorrow mixed with some portion of relief?
Who can know? When it comes to our feelings we human beings can be so gray and conflicted, so twisted around our emotions that in our minds we can barely find our way from point A to point B. Who among us has never at one time or another ruminated over and over again over what we should have done?
But to me there is one grand irony to this story, and it's this;
When 9-year-old Florence Lubignac was, in my mother's words, being passed around like a playing card, she had no voice in her fate; what she wanted was not factored in, either by her fraught parents or by self-serving Nanny Stanton.
And yet this time, when her father should have been as firm in taking her home as he'd been in giving her away, when Nanny Stanton should have cast her back as aggressively as she'd reeled her in, all the adults stood weakly or selfishly by and put upon this child the burden of making a decision that should not have been hers to make.
Of course who knows if, for all the hardship she suffered, Florence didn't end up better off as Nanny Stanton's ill-used servant than she might have in her own unstable family? Who knows?
Still, as my grandmother told my mother many times, "I would never give up one of my children. Not if I were down to my last crust of bread.
My grandmother told my mother that she believed that her mother Virginia Lubignac ended up in a mental institution over the grief and remorse she suffered for giving away her daughter. I believe it, too.
To be continued...
NB: I'm in Los Angeles this week so my posts will pop up about three hours later than usual!