Thursday, January 21, 2010
To Jean Lejeune (1914-2010)
(3 generations out ot of 4 of Lejeune guys on this picture taken in 2008 : me, Jean and Basile)
My grandfather passed away during the night. He was My father's dad.
We used to call him Pépé (pronounced "pay-pay").
Pépé was great. He was a good and humble man. Pépé was a French teacher. Past students used to call him or went to see him in his remote house in Burgubndy long after his retirement.
Pépé was a man of words. Pépé wrote his life in a book. Pépé loved to tell stories. We loved to hear them. Poems by La Fontaine, Baudelaire, Victor Hugo. He loved Rimbaud and Proust (I hate Proust). He wrote poems too, in a 19th century style.
Pépé loved tennis and football. Pépé was a good tennis player. Pépé loved fishing.
Pépé loved Bach, Edith Piaf and Ray Charles. And Georges Brassens. My first memories of hearing Brassens were at his house in the country. Brassens to me is Biches (the name of the village where he lived).
Pépé had gone to World War II. He had been given a gun, a revolver, but he never shot it. His regiment never fought. He went home in 1940 and resumed his job. He bought his house in the country. He had met his wife at a ball in 1937 and they were married since that date. Until a few weeks ago, Pépé, although physically impaired, had kept all his wits and we talked on the phone everynow and then.
Pepe, as a school teacher, has meticulously-made photo albums with type-written texts detailling what he's done almost everyday from 1950 to 2000. It's just fascinating. He used to describe himself as a witness more than as a maker.
So for you, Pépé, I can olny post these Brassens songs :
Georges Brassens - Grand père (buy)
First, of course "Grand père", a fierce, humourous piece which tells of a poor family who loses their grandfather and try to have him buried, but nobody wants to do it because they have no money. So (pardon the translation)
"At the grocery store,
No money, no groceries
At lovely Suzanne's
No money, no thighs
Low status dead people
Are outside of my jurisdiction
Yet I had inherited from grandpa
A pair of pointed boots
If ass kicks get lost sometime
This one hit its goal"
It would make him laugh. And thank God we won't have the same problem to take him to his last resting place !
The other one, "Je m'suis fait tout petit" instantly brings me back memories of summers spent in his house.
Georges Brassens - Je me suis fait tout petit (buy) (1954)