“Who is that man in all the pictures, Mama?”
“He was your grandfather.” She grips her purse. “My father.”
“Not exactly. He was with my mother for a while, when she was young.”
“Did I ever meet him?”
“No. He died before you were born.”
“But you knew him.”
“A little. He wasn’t around much.”
The boy glances about the gallery. Scuba gear, a model ship, a red wetsuit. A TV plays a continuous loop of The Silent World, a man’s soft French voice narrating the wonders of the ocean.
“I wish I’d met him,” said the boy.
A reporter from an anti-establishment newspaper in Seattle once asked a 67-year-old Jacques Cousteau if he had faith in anything. Cousteau gave a strange reply: “I believe in the instant.” Cousteau’s wholesome public image was at odds with his private conduct, which included a taste for fame, multiple mistresses, and at least two illegitimate children he refused to acknowledge.