Grand-père Jacques

“Who is that man in all the pictures, Mama?”

“He was your grandfather.” She grips her purse. “My father.”

“Your daddy?”

“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.

 

Friday Fictioneers

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. 

 

24 thoughts on “Grand-père Jacques

  1. Ah, Josh, you’ve stripped away another of my childhood illusions. Just don’t – no, really, don’t! – tell me that Santa Claus isn’t for real…
    You’ve written that story really well!

  2. Thanks for the connection to Cousteau’s history! Who knew…

    and the way you wrote this felt like I was listening in at a mariner’s museum display.

  3. Believing in the instant? Living for the now. Bit of a copout that, when he created children with women who probably loved him. However attractive they found him he comes across as totally unattractive, particularly regarding his shameful failure to acknowledge his children.

  4. I have very faint memories of watch Jacque Cousteau on tv when I was really little. I loved the show. Never knew the history of the man, just that he loved fish and the sea. Liked your story, though. The innocence of youth see’s their heroes as perfect.

  5. Nicely done. Her sad story enfolded into the child’s new understanding and pride in his heritage. Part of the poignancy is the child not really grasping what it meant for his mother’s life, for his grandmother to have been with a “great man” only briefly, and yet to carry the souvenir of that relationship, alone and forever.

  6. Some men find it frighteningly easy to walk away from a family, onto the next adventure I suppose. You’ve managed to fill this snippet with humanity and yearning. Great story telling Josh

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