Le `tit vieux du Château Merveilleux
Le `Tit vieux était si mal compris et sérieux
allons voir ce qui se passe dans son milieux
Ah! vous ne saviez pas qu’il était si généreux.
Écoutez! voici une histoire d’un homme merveilleux
Je vais vous présenter monsieur Elphège Vielleux.
Maître Elphège Veilleux died suddenly. He was a recently retired corporate lawyer. The village were mourning such a generous and wise man. He was only sixty-two. They say he had an aneurism. That is supposed to be quick death…not too much suffering except, of course, for the survivors. What a shock! Such sadness and harrowing grief due to this unexpected ending!
A few days following the funeral, Notaire Bergeron requested the presence of Iréné Veilleux, the only son of Elphège. He was 33 years old and still never worked a day in his life. He had been kicked out of 5 private schools, 2 universities and had been in and out of 8 detox centres. He was currently trying to fight the battle with his heroin addiction. He thought to himself, if he can settle his father`s estate soon enough, he had good intentions to get into a private clinic in Magog, La Façon d’être. He had spoken to his father about this last month. “If only he were still alive to see him succeed…IF only he could this time.”
The appointment of the reading of his father`s will was two o`clock and Iréné arrived just a few minutes early. The receptionist offered him a cup of coffee and led him to the board room. Iréné was confused. “Why must the meeting be in such a big room when he was the only beneficiary?”
He took a place near the head of the long oval cherry wood table. He heard people arriving at the front of the office and looked towards the mahogany doors curiously. The double doors opened and he was surprised to see so many people in the waiting room.
Madame Champagne, the village librarian, monsieur Desrosier, the accountant, mademoiselle Gagnon, the head nurse at La Maison Renaud and monsieur Pierre Antoine Colbert but everyone called him PaCo, the former groundskeeper of Elphège Veilleux`s estate. He lived in the cottage behind le manoir. Iréné was a bit surprised to see PaCo arrive. He was in his late fifties but he had not aged well; arthritis had ravaged his body. He had been with Elphège since he was a child. His mother was Elphège`s gouvernante and raised PaCo in the old carriage house. There had always been an understanding that Paco could stay in his humble but comfortable loft for as long as he wished. He was a bit of an enigma to most here. No one knew where he went every afternoon returning at twilight.
His stride was shaky, shuffling towards the nearest chair, he was the first seated and the others all took a seat. Monsieur le notaire took his place and advised he had very little to say, “Monsieur Veilleux has recorded his last Will and Testament on this video, a copy is in all your envelopes along with necessary supporting documents as well. Allons-y…”
The video commenced: Monsieur Veilleux is seated in the carriage house in an overstuffed arm chair…
“Bonjour mes chers amis…mon fils, Iréné. Comme vous voyez…I am a humble man. I was born in a privileged environment with little needs but those who know me well, I have always worked hard. I love this village and if you are viewing this video, I have already taken off to new territories; hopefully I will be joining ma belle et douce Alys; perhaps I will also meet with maman et papa who taught me to respect nature and human dignity. I have tried to do both. The orchard is not as vibrant as it was but it has managed well enough to offer work to many in the village. For that I am pleased.
During the ice storm several years ago, I was fortunate enough having 3 generators and welcomed many of you wonderful people in my home. What a learning experience mother nature offered me. That entire month co-habitating under difficult climatic circumstances was a turning point for me. You were privileged in one sense, being in college outside the triangle that got hit from this ice storm. I had forged closer relations with some of you who are here today. For that I thank you. Merci mes chers amis…you have blessed me with a gift that is priceless …the gift of purpose.
Voici, mon cher fils, I want to offer you this wonderful opportunity…you have no idea how enrichissant it feels to have such a blessing and here is my offering to you with love and hope that you grow with this dowry.
Iréné, you have struggled since the death of Alys, ta charmante maman; you were so young. A boy at eleven still needs the love and comfort of sa maman. Since then you left me, your family, your friends and followed your own path and got lost along the way. I only hope you are here, present, as my friends are viewing this last discourse I share with you.
Sometimes when a person is lost in obscurity he finds himself in the clutches of des esprits douteux. For you, it has been the spirits of the mind that robbed your will. You did not know that addiction was the poison of your forefathers. Alas, yes, and this poisonous concoction disguised as a healing cocktail turns into a possessive demon…who robbed me of my son and deprived you of living. I know you have suffered and still ache, mon fils.
I am turning le Manoir Merveilleux into a halfway house for men and women recovering from addiction. I have more space than I have ever required and since the ice storm I have been exploring opportunities to develop my purpose in the days remaining in my life. I have visited Le Virage and la Maison Foster and mademoiselle Gagnon has helped me in this research, educated me more on the wrath of addictions and the long rehabilitation required to remain sober. I never realized how difficult this could be. I always assumed you did not have enough willpower or that I had spoiled you too much and somehow I had enabled you. Pardonne-moi, mon fils, I was so ignorant.
I learned that many font des rechutes, relapses as well. So I asked my friends to explore this more for me. Madame Champagne headed the research. We found that when a person who had the support of loving friends and family, had more chances in succeeding but what seemed to be a stronger influence was having a sense of purpose. The strongest motivator seemed to be purpose…un raison d’être was key to maintaining sobriety. Perhaps it is not the only source of success but I am willing to wager it may be what the doctor ordered for you, mon fils.
Paco will be the Clinical Director.
Iréné gasped and almost spilled his coffee on his lap. The villagers listened but did not seem as shocked by this announcement. Paco lowered his eyes and stared at his hands waiting for his childhood friend to finish his discourse. He was saddened by this great loss…a brother in so many ways and his confidant.
“Paco has a PhD in psychology as you may not have known and has been the psychologist at the Cowansville Correctional Insititute for the past 25 years working the evening shift; in 1998 I asked him if he would consider getting his certification in addictions and I am pleased he seemed as interested in this field of study as I did.
Paco is a humble man, Iréné. Do not judge him by his modest living and scruffy attire. He wears the same outdoor garb when chopping wood or raking the leaves, that belonged to his father who died not long after your mother passed. He says it brings him closer to his father`s spirit. He maintains the grounds at his insistence for he says it frees his spirit and feeds his mind. We already have students who come regularly to maintain the grounds who are part of another programme I have set up for aspiring college students. When they complete their high school, I will cover their tuition fees IF they succeed in their studies for a total of 6 years. Education is a free pass to life, my son.
Paco has always lived in the carriage house where he was raised and it is with great humility he accepted to take his place in le Manoir. The carriage house is being refurbished and all latest digital instruments helpful in pursing post-secondary studies will be installed along with updated furnishings. This will be your new home, Iréné, once you return from La Façon d’être. I am hoping you will try one more time…giving sobriety a chance.
When you return, you will have access to an addiction counsellor and group support in le Manoir anytime. You will be given a list of chores you are required to do as all the residents do at this new halfway house. Once you have completed your term here, you will have access to the carriage house as your new home for as long as you wish. I have set aside funding for you to eventually return to academia. The mind is a precious gift one must not waste…you are privileged in so many ways, mon fils. I hope you will benefit from this opportunity.
I have one stipulation for you, mon fils, if you wish to continue receiving the monthly allowance from your trust fund, you must volunteer a minimum of 10 hours a month in a non-profit agency that offers support to children, youths, men, women or families in need. Once you find your “calling” PaCo and mademoiselle Gagnon must approve the organization and will be your advisor/mentor along this rich journey.
I will always be with you, mon fils, in love and spirit.”
© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/08
I started writing a story about this prompted image and along the way another prompt from Dungeon Prompts this week, Purpose and the Art of Holding Back was on my mind and it slipped into the theme of this story. I thought to myself, Well, that is sort of cheating, isn’t it? But I don’t write many narratives or poems on this blog and I thought this would be an appropriate contribution. I hope you enjoyed it, Cheryl-Lynn.