PBS American Portrait


An Aspiring Filmmaker Tells Their Grandfather's Story

Lumiere, a recent film school graduate, wants to document their family’s stories before it’s too late. Their grandfather’s dementia is threatening to erase a good portion of the family’s collective memory. They traveled to their grandparents’ house in the midst of the COVID pandemic to help take care of them and capture the stories only they can tell.

AIRED: August 02, 2020 | 0:02:42

- Hi. I'm Lumiere.

Like the candlestick from "Beauty and the Beast"?

Yes, just like that.

Anyway, these are my grandparents.

I've recently been spending a lot of time with them.

Since my last semester of college was all online,

I decided to come to Georgia to help take care of them

in the height of the pandemic.

I'm gonna give youa hug now, okay?

- [softly] It is good to see you.

- [laughing]It's good to see you, too.


- My Lord. - You miss me?

- Yes, ma'am.

- I am 22 years old. I just graduated college.

I am an aspiring filmmaker.

This is my grandpa.

He'll be 80 years old this September,

but, honestly, I don't think he'll remember that.

He was diagnosed with slow-advancing dementia

almost ten years ago.

I know it's been hard on my grandma.

- Yeah. All right,now we got your shirt.

- All right. - So I guess I was wrong.

- Day by day, the disease chips away

at his body and his mind,

but he comes back to this briefcase

every once in a while.

His brain can't hold his memories anymore,

but this little black box

holds and protects them for him.

[latches snap]

For starters, he used to be a truck driver.

He was one of the first Black drivers

for the Mason Dixon company.

It was hard work, for sure,

but he absolutely loved it.

Say hello. - Hello.

- Ever since I got here,

the relationship exploded in the best way.

- I know. There's never enough. - Hey!

Say "Hi, Pop."

I tell you who she walk like.

- Who she walk like? - Fred Sanford.

- 'Cause she bow-legged? - [laughs]

- I'm really excited to be here

to document as much as I possibly can--

stories that my grandparents...

are the only ones that can tell them.

- I didn't ever think that I'd see her again.

- I'm here. Give me your hand.

I'm actually considering moving in with them.

My grandma is looking for a full-time live-in person.

But I just graduated college. I'm 22.

If I get the opportunity to start my life,

I wouldn't want to turn it down...

To stay.