Sunday, June 17, 2012

Born and Raised

I've been a bit addicted to my new John Mayer album. It's CSNY thing--first he calls out to Neil Young in Queen of California then he uses David Crosby and Graham Nash in the backup vocals for the full version of Born and Raised, but what I love the most is rhythm and the lyrics of the song's reprise:

Born and raised
Locks of brown and streaks of gray
I was brought up in brighter days
It's good to say
Now I'm born and raised

Born and raised
In half the time I'll be twice my age 
Better learn how to turn the page
'Cause time is strange
When you're born and raised

Though I bemoan how long it is taking for my kids to be full-fledged grown-ups, I took my own sweet time as well.  Sure, I married young and had kids right away and lived independently in another state, but my mother still buys most of my new clothes, and sews up my old ones.  My father still supplies lovely upgrades to my life, from bagels on Saturday mornings to the swing set and grill in my backyard.  Even before I moved back they, along with my same-aged brother Kevin, have been my most constant companions outside of my husband and kids.  Am I fully raised?  I have my locks of brown and streaks of gray, but it is understandably confusing when you have the gift of having your parents nearby for the majority of your life.   

While I know much of their influence took place early and often, I see how it continues.  It just takes a word, here or there, and I think about what we were discussing differently.  It helps that they are frugal with overt advice--that I seem to resist--but their thoughts and musings still soak into my psyche like it's dry and they're water.  And though they are very different people, their imprints nearly the same.  Today is Father's Day but I can't seem to separate his influence from hers.  They made me in their collective image.  

My mother Lucie and brother Kevin
My mother is Lucie Allen from Holyoke, Mass.  She's second generation Canadian (both kinds) and loves music and reading and baseball and family meals.  She was on a swim team, and wanted to be a teacher before finding another career path she worked hard at and loved.  She's pretty and smart and adventurous and good-humored.  She was an appreciative daughter and a devoted wife, though she's always voiced her opinions and they are uniquely her own as she does her own thinking on just about everything.  She's a down-to-earth liberal Democrat who raised her kids to be as open-minded and unprejudiced.  She tries to be a good older sister, and her sister is her favorite travel-mate still.  She married young, to her high school sweetheart, and had kids early, then did whatever it took to raise us right. A natural homebody, she is still social whenever she is out, with a memorable and easy laugh.   She can hold a baby for hours, and calm them in a minute.  She's a tigress in defending her own when she feels they are under threat, and has a fresh and sarcastic mouth that she tries to tame, most of her curses kept in her head or muttered.  She loves afternoon tea and popcorn, scrapbooking and movies with happy endings, the beach and dogs, gardening and grandchildren, and will always put aside whatever she was doing when someone comes looking for her.  She's a matriarch, and love incarnate.

My father John and me
My father is John Creane, also from Holyoke.  He's first generation Irish Catholic, warm and giving, a bit of a hellion as a teen but soon-enough responsible and settled.  He's bright and went to Brown even though most of his friends went to college locally, if at all; and he struggled there as an outsider in the world of prep school exclusivity but it also lit intellectual fires that have never really dimmed.   He has worked hard nearly every day of his life since well before age sixteen, and still has more to accomplish.  He reads voraciously, and writes with discerning skill, and has a critic's eye for the work of others.  He's a social progressive, who advocates for the underdog; he keeps his own counsel. He's consistent, and dependable, and kind.  He likes to eat and cook good food, and has sculpted a grand list of favorites that make people swoon.  He also loves cereal and sweets and peanut butter on english muffins and water views and Broadway shows and quiet.  He reveres his coffee and his paper in the morning, and his coffee and books at night.   He's been hindered by some sore bones but that has never stopped him from being active, and he's a world-class traveler, soaking up whatever culture he's visiting.  He walks his dog even when he doesn't feel like it. He's attended just about every game, show or event any of his kids have ever been in, even if it is with a book or newspaper and coffee in hand taking up some portion of his attention.  He takes beautiful photographs, which he displays for the pleasure of remembering, and showing.  He enjoys having a warm and comfortable home, and he doesn't mind doing shopping or laundry or dishes.  He loves his kids beyond all reason.  

And through the alchemy of childhood, I am an amalgam of both of them, all of these things in different degrees and combinations, unique but still a clear reflection and iteration of them.  Sure, they have character flaws, which I also share, and other people have lent a hand along the way, but the majority of me is good and happy and them, because they raised me with devotion and a reckless abandon for their own hearts and needs.  

Even if I am an ongoing project, I think their work is largely done.  I thank them, and love them, in return.  

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