When I was a child, my grandmother used to always tell me about my great, great, great grandfather, who was a famous author. I never believed her story. How could little ol’ me be related to someone famous? Yet, my grandma was persistent, and actually, it wasn’t just her. Soon enough my parents, aunts, and uncles, kept telling me the same story. The story never changed. Even now when my grandma or any other relative tells me the story, the details remain the same.
The story goes that in the early 1800’s, an author by the name of Honore de Balzac came to Prussia while on vacation, and from there he stumbled through what is now Belarus and to Lithuania. While there, he had a secret little love affair with a great, great, great grandmother of mine. When his little vacation came to an end, he left, and soon after that my great, great, great grandmother realized she was pregnant. With no real way to contact him, and knowing that he had a life that didn’t involve her and that she was just a fun time, she didn’t even try to inform him of his secret love child. Instead, she gave birth to her baby and gave the baby his last name, minus the last letter.
I don’t know how much truth there is to that story, if any. I tried asking my grandmother a few things that bothered me, like how did my great grandmother pull it off? I don’t know what life used to be like back then in Lithuania, but I assume like in the rest of the world, a woman would be shamed to have a baby out of wedlock. Or how could she give the baby a last name that she didn’t have? My grandma didn’t have the answers to any of my questions, but her guess (and it’s just a guess) that she moved to a different part of the country with forged documents claiming the baby belonged to a deceased husband. I guess that’s possible, although it is just a guess.
I’m a skeptic by nature so I always took that story with a grain of salt. However, last year, my mother bought a book about Horore de Balzac’s life. Upon reading it, she said she noticed a few similarities between him and me. I don’t know what the similarities are. And really, aren’t all people similar in a way? (Hey, I just said I’m a skeptic).
A few years ago, I did try looking up the information and trying to trace my last name online. I didn’t find much information except that my last name is really rare with less than 600 people in the whole world having that name, that it was traced by historians to one of the three wisemen who came to see Jesus after he was born, and that I’m related to Marie Antoinette in some way or another. However, there is a lot of misleading information online so once again, I’m taking that with a grain of salt. I can’t possibly be related to that many famous people!
I would love to find out for sure if I’m related to anyone famous. However, until I have real documented proof, I’m likely to continue being a skeptic about this story. It does make good party conversation if I’m trying to impress people, and I do share it sometimes, but if someone were to offer me information that would contradict what my family told me, I wouldn’t be shocked.
So, who are you guys related (or supposedly related) to?