This weekend, I went to see my parents. Since I don’t have a car, because I don’t really like to drive and also “because I’m a guy” to giggle at my sister Dominique who accompanied me, I don’t often go to Sainte-Croix, the village of my childhood.
It is true that I am rather homey and that, with my head in my universe, I easily obliterate my past. The house my parents now live in is not my teenage home. We had a few, especially this beautiful house of more or less Canadian style, a picture of which in the basement reminds me of its existence. It was in the basement that I slept last night on an old sofa bed that I think already existed in this old house.
Seeing the picture made me smile. I built this house a little bit with two workers and my father. I remember a day when, perched on the roof of the house under construction, with my mother and father, we were laying asphalt shingles. I told Mom I was considering the priesthood. She almost drove all the way down. Fortunately, my vocation lasted only a few months (or a few hours…)! It was in this house, in my room (the skylight on the right), that I first made love to a young boy (who was angry with me every time I met him). My family didn’t see anything. Our fire was intense. This was the beginning of promises that were not always kept.
The picture also gives me information about many anchorages. Is this road, for example, leading to the house, surrounded by trees, not the one described in Falaise? And the river you can guess at the back, is it not the one from the same novel? Of course, the scenery of Falaise is different. I moved the forest, flipped the house over one hundred and eighty degrees (which has since been brought back to the side of the highway after my parents left), exaggerated the cliff and widened the river. The house of the novel is older and even wider. My memories were only the pretext for the construction of the places.
The basement where I slept last night is full of other treasures. Photos of all kinds, the old piano on which I was picking my moods. In this basement also sleeps the remains of Mom’s cloth shop, which she preserved when she sold everything, and, in a mess of the artist she could really have been, several paintings by her hand. Finally, in a narrower room, my father’s workshop and his old tools, the same tools I had made him promise to give me upon his death when I was five years old.
I used them extensively during my teenage years. I had built several pieces of furniture. I remember my first desk, a picnic-style table with a terrible heaviness (the top being made of ceramic) that I hung around during my CEGEP years. My shelves too, which I used until 2008.
And all these jumbled photos, both in the basement, on the wall of the stairwell, and on the coffee tables, my parents’ house is a long story told in disorder. Pictures of me as a baby, of the older ones, my ancestors, my parents too, and then the pictures of the grandchildren. All this in the eyes of my parents, who are also burdened by time, which does not prevent them from saying funny things to each other, from remembering with us this and that and from crying out compliments of love from time to time.
It will officially be sixty years in May that they started their journey together. At their side, we regain possession of our memories, we understand more the meaning of words and existences, especially since they have been a fertile ground, full of love and respect. We also understand that they are gradually uprooting themselves from this village. Those they knew have disappeared, Sainte-Croix is now inhabited by young people. We, the five children, would like them to come closer to us, who are all in Montreal, but that is not how it works. They had an existence before us, we have ours and one day we will be the photos that will be dusted on some coffee tables. Probably not mine, because I haven’t woven any lines.
Anyway, with my parents, I remember and move on. My father always calls me his little boy, my mother always hugs me very hard. I remember, because we are nothing if we have nothing to say or recall.