André and Monique own a small house cared for by Monique, who also stays at home to look after their three children. She would like to have one more child but is reconsidering the matter this morning! Jean-François, her second son is fussing about the socks she has gotten ready for him to wear. The socks don’t match his Tee-shirt. Disaster! “What am I going to look like?” he says.
I know children who would love to have socks, no matter what color. And many children who would never dare talk back to their mother for fear of getting a good spanking. These two situations shock me. I know that in my own culture, children are respected and encouraged to know themselves and speak their mind. But, there is human nature. Is Jean-François still that concerned about his looks? Does he live in beauty and harmony? Do his own children have as strong a personality as he had?
A few more arguments to get the boys dress appropriately. Spring hasn’t arrived yet and they will get sick. “Look at your Dad”. Yes, André lying in bed is proof enough: he has the flu. He is not going to work at his father’s garage, his future inheritance, today. He spends the day at home and finds happiness in his misfortune. He is a man in love with his wife and family. He considers time spent with them precious.
On his mother’s side, André is a cousin of mine but I never knew him much. We had only met when we were young. Nonetheless, this tie allows for a certain familiarity between us. At night, I go to bed while André, who can’t sleep any longer, cuddles up with Monique under a blanket on the living-room couch, as they watch a movie.
They finally managed to achieve their dream when they bought a large farmhouse when Monique was diagnosed with cancer. Three years of suffering ensued, three years where André has been a constant source of comfort and support to her.
Today in 2011, after burying her, his father and mother as well, André lives with his new companion, a longtime friend of the couple. He talks about the love that is friendship, of the little need there really is for material belongings and of the uselessness of hoarding stuff. Now retired in St-Gérard-des-Laurentides, André looks at his 53 hectares and thinks it is great time to embrace biological agriculture and give life back to the land. What kind of grand-father has he become? Have the generation’s roles changed and how? Can a mother or a grand-mother’s love be replaced?
It would be said today that this family does not represent any longer the traditional Québec model. What do Philippe, Jean-François and Véronique think about love and relationships? In a society where divorce is another fact of life, can they engage in long-lasting relationships like their parents did? Where do they stand in the new urban setting of Québec today? Are André’s children urbanites with some great respect for the environment? From rural to urban settings, do young adults think differently?