Just finished reading a Vanity Fair article on recently deceased and brilliant English painter Lucian Freud – grandson of Sigmund and I tell ya Granddad would have had fun psychoanalyzing this descendant of the clan – who is a particularly favorite artist for me.
No, I don’t have any of his stuff. One of his paintings recently went for $33 million. For a guy who produces paintings that might go for $33, this is a heady realm. And, that isn’t my point here.
My point is that during his 88 years, Lucian sired 14 (acknowledged) children with six different women. Not only was he a prolific artist, he was mightily prolific in other realms, it would seem. I mean, migawd, 14 kids! I am both amazed, and confessedly impressed.
“What?” you say. “Impressed? At such irresponsibility? Hadn’t he ever heard of condoms, for crissake?”
I can’t answer that. And to argue on his behalf, some of the tads emanated from his three wives, but others originated with what I can only assume were just real good friends. Some of whom were models, I understand. I guess it can get steamy in the studio, and he was a very lingering and painstaking artist. Indeed, one of his last paramours was a female 50 years younger than he, and that kind of gives a guy (like me) a bit of hope on the eve of a relatively unwelcome birthday.
No, I’m not planning to decamp, in case you were concerned (which you likely weren’t) I was just idly speculating how I should pay more attention to my painting these days.
Finally, the point of this all is, I don’t have any children. As far as I know I don’t even have any that I don’t know about. And if you want to ask me about regrets in my life, I must confess this is one. And it’s a very big one. Truly.
When I was younger and first married I didn’t think I wanted the impediment of kids, and I’d never given it much thought. So my first wife and I went through two decades worth of marriage with the subject rarely coming up. In the later years I thought of it, and I realized it was virtually getting too late for that to happen. After we had separated and in the place of ‘departure’ conversations my soon-to-be-ex said something that kind of broke my heart a little more in that time of heartbreak. She said: “I know you wanted children, and I’m sorry about that, but I didn’t.” And it was true. But, I don’t blame her in the slightest.
When I was with my 2nd wife, I did have my stepdaughter, whom I loved absolutely to bits, but didn’t show it well, I confess and that leaves me with a ton of regret. But, quite honestly, I didn’t know how to parent. I loved kids, and I’d taught a lot of kids, but that’s a different thing from parenting them. Wife #2 and I would have loved to have had a family together, but surgery prior to her meeting me precluded that.
And Wendy has had similar surgery, so that is reality.
None of this do I resent, but periodically it can make me sad because I honestly think I would have been a good father and I think I could have made up for some of the pain of my own childhood by making the lives of my children brighter than mine was.
I may be wrong.
I’ll never know.