Michael told me to start with an anecdote I had written about my great-grandfather Édouard Métayer on Our Ancestors.
I can’t make you believe something on Our Ancestors II that might not be true. I am not sure anymore that the man I thought back in 2009 was my great-great-grandfather Elzéar Métayer is the old man in the middle.
In fact I am not sure either that the old man on the right was Michael Meteyer’s great-grandfather François-Xavier Métayer. Having been in contact with Michael led me to rethink my original hypothesis.
When I first met my father’s cousin Thérèse in 2009, she had told me many anecdotes about my great-grandfather Édouard Métayer.
Édouard Jr., Thérèse’s father, was probably the one whho told her many of those anecdotes about his father and how Édouard had died in 1928.
Thérèse told me her grandfather Édouard used to sing a song to his grandchildren…
These are the words of the song in French.
Souvenirs d’un vieillard
– 1 –
Petits enfants, jouez dans la prairie
Chantez, chantez le doux parfum des fleurs
Profitez bien du printemps de la vie
Trop tôt, hélas, vous verserez des pleurs.
Dernier amour de ma vieillesse
Venez à moi, petits enfants
Je veux de vous une caresse
Pour oublier, pour oublier mes cheveux blancs.
– 2 – (refrain non chanté ici)
Quoique bien vieux j’ai le coeur plein de charmes
Permettez-moi d’assister à vos jeux
Pour un vieillard outragé, plein de larmes
Auprès de vous, je me sens plus heureux.
– 3 –
Petits enfants, vous avez une mère
Et tous les soirs près de votre berceau
Pour elle au ciel offrez votre prière
Aimez-la bien jusqu’au jour du tombeau.
– 4 – (refrain non chanté ici)
En vieillissant, soyez bons, charitables
Aux malheureux prêtez votre secours
Il est si beau d’assister ses semblables
Un peu de bien embellit nos vieux jours.
– 5 – (refrain non chanté ici)
Petits enfants, quand j’étais à votre âge
Je possédais la douce paix du coeur
Que de beaux jours ont passé sans nuage
Je ne voyais que des jours de bonheur.
– 6 –
En vieillissant, j’ai connu la tristesse
Ceux que j’aimais, je les ai vus partir…
Oh! laissez-moi vous prouver ma tendresse
C’est en aimant que je voudrais mourir.
Thérèse told me that her grandfather Édouard Métayer was crying when he was singing that song to his grandchildren…
Was that anecdote true?
Getting back to the old photo…
Was this man Elzéar Métayer, Édouard’s father or I will have to find another explanation for who he was?
Maybe by comparing noses or other photos from the Meteyer family?
My father’s cousin told me another anecdote.
Édouard Métayer was sent to live with his uncle François-Xavier Métayer in Montreal when his father Elzéar remarried in 1878 after the death of his first wife Philomène Dupont in 1876. Édouard’s stepmother didn’t want to have Édouard around.
Was it true?
Being in contact with Michael has rekindled my interest with the Métayer family and the song my great-grandfather used to sing to his grandchildren.
That anecdote says a lot about my great- grandfather who was crying while singing to his grandchildren. He must have been such a tender human being. He had lost his mother when he was 6 years-old. His stepmother did not want him around the house, went and lived with his uncle, became a baker in l’Île d’Orléans, then moved to Montreal, became a fireman, got married to the daughter of his fire captain Joseph Renaud, had children, became a lieutenant in the Montreal fire department in 1911, and in 1915 became a fire captain admired by all his men.
Is this all true or just part of it?
You can read his obituary if you think I am making up all this…
If my memory doesn’t play tricks on me, this is the image I remember seeing when I was a six year-old child visiting his grandmother Juliette on Mentana Street in the 1950s.
I would put my hand in the fire that’s the photo I saw.
This is an English translation of the song Édouard was singing his grandchildren when he was an old man.
An Old Man’s Memories
– 1 –
Little children, go play in the meadow
Sing, sing the sweet scent of flowers
Enjoy the spring of life
Too soon, alas, you will cry.
Last love of my old age
Come to me, little children
I want you to hug me
So I forget my white hair.
– 2 – (Refrain not sung here)
Although very old, my heart is still young.
Allow me to play your games
For an old man full of tears
With you, I feel happier.
– 3 –
Little children, you have a mother
And every night by your bed
For her in heaven offer your prayer
Love her well until the day of her grave.
– 4 – (refrain not sung here)
As you get older, be good, be charitable
To the less fortunate lend a helping hand
It is so wonderful to assist one’s fellow man
A bit of good embellishes our old age.
– 5 – (refrain not sung here)
Little children, when I was your age
I possessed tender peace of heart
What beautiful cloudless days have passed
I only saw happy days.
– 6 –
As I got older, I experienced sadness
Those I loved, I saw them leave…
Oh! let me prove you my tenderness
Surrounded with love is how I would like to die.