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)


Record Fiend said...


Please accept my condolences. Your grandfather was obviously a good influence on you.


Darius said...

I am sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.

Nicolas said...

thank you very much

Berni said...

I also had a Pepe and Meme. So sorry to hear that you've lost such an important person in your life.

Paco said...

Très émouvant ton mot. ça me ramène au bon souvenir de mon papy!
Toutes mes condoléances.

Anonymous said...

Mon Nico, Il paraît que c'est le sens de la vie... J'ai toujours eu du mal à m'y résoudre et je m'associe à ton chagrin.
Je t'embrasse très fort.


Anonymous said...

On va de generation en generation. Pepe semble avoir ete quelqu'un de bien que j'aurais bien aimer rencontrer.
Sinceres condoleances.

Nicolas said...

A big MERCI to all of you.

The funeral was short, simple, and moving, just as he wished. Pépé had left papers with very precise instructions for his funeral.

Pour les francophones, je posterai aussi sur l'Appel de la Rivière après avoir relu le bouquin de Pépé.

(translation : For Frenchspeakers, I'll post about pépé in my French blog too after re-reading his book).

Anonymous said...

Je veut bien lire ca. Les histoires de familles sont toujours interessantes.

Pour moi, je me souviens d'ecouter aux disques 78s de Spike Jones chez mes grandparents en Virginie. Un connection <> comme on dit en Anglais.

Anonymous said...

Le mot qui manque: Proustian.

Term Paper said...

Such a cute baby.

Anonymous said...

Cher Nicolas,

Mes condoléances. En même temps, bravo et merci pour ce billet à la fois touchant, personnel, et néanmoins nullement hors de propos dans la ligne éditoriale de ton blog : en musique comme en littérature, nous rencontrons des passeurs. Jean était sûrement de ceux-là, et le billet que tu lui consacres est bien "anglé", comme disent les journalistes (horrible jargon dont feu le professeur de français aurait peut-être désapprouvé l'usage).


Hamza said...

live up-to his expectations and be good to his friends/ relatives. this is the best thing you can do for him i am sure he will be happy..may his soul rest in peace and he enjoy the most of the HEAVEN