Yesterday, on New Year’s Day, my sister France gave me an electronic copy of the documentaries made by my uncle Serge Giguère. Serge had passed on these films to his brothers and sisters and, in keeping with modernism, my sister transposed them so that our mother could watch them in her living room or on her computer.
I don’t know if these films are available anywhere. They are precious to me, not only because they are my family, but because Serge has a neutral and yet tender view of people. He is an excellent documentary filmmaker who was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2008.
We see some images of my maternal great-grandfather (whom I did not know) who recounts the harshness of his work. In the first film, we see mainly scenes from 1975, among the Giguère family, the year my grandmother died. A second film, À maison, takes up the images of the first film in which, following Antoinette’s death, Hector breaks up the house (I’m not sure, my mother will confirm). Finally, L’Homme qui chantait sua job, a documentary centered on my uncle Bruno, a western singer. The three films form a continuity.
The images of my grandparents are certainly the most touching for me. To see the dynamism of this woman who will have carried and delivered sixteen children (twelve existing ones) and who, until the end, will have given to all. To see my grandfather mourn his wife, who is now absent from the walls of their empty house. To hear this man talk about his hard work too. He did fifty-six jobs, worked in the forest (he became stiff like a horse), was a barber, a factory worker. To see me, too, at 14 years old, wearing the mustache, secretly in love with my cousin (he never knew that!). I have so few real memories of my childhood, I tend to forget so quickly.
Reliving these moments forces me to retake root, not to protest, but to follow the current. To see them all again at this time, to know now where they stand, is the tacit lesson of the value of time. Hearing my grandfather say that life, when you have the pleasure, is a beautiful hobby. All this brings a smile and nostalgia. All this is alive.