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12.5.22

My Curious Upbringing

I was shaped by men – two men –

more than the women. The women 

shaped me, I suppose, negatively

as something to rebel against:

that traditional role. I could not see

the joy in cooking and cleaning.


But father and grandfather shaped

my curiosity, my lifelong wanting

to know and understand. My Dad

by example: ‘Let’s look that up!’

(What would a home have been,

without dictionary and encyclopaedia?)


My Grandpa in long nature walks

when we were together on visits,

pointing out a rich variety of particular

trees and flowers, birds and insects,

kinds of clouds.… And in letters, so many

over the years, wide-ranging conversations.


In some respects it was as if

they didn’t know I was a kid.

They spoke to my mind, that ageless 

part of a person, with respect

for my intelligence. They knew

I could think – and even better, enquire.


‘Think for yourself, make up

your own mind,’ they said. ‘Don’t

just take things at face value. Look 

deep.’ I was a dreamy little girl,

fond of fairy-tales, but I also knew

to use logic and common-sense.


My brother was brought up the same.

He didn’t have to rebel against cooking

and also didn’t need to abjure

fist fights, booze and sport. He grew up

taking it for granted that real men

include the gentle, and those who think.


Yes, we were ‘different’ – didn’t fit in

with the ‘norm’. We survived that

and found our tribes. Now we are

an old woman and an old man; each 

moved far from where we were born:

still filled with curiosity, and life.


Written for Poets and Storytellers United's Friday Writings #26, where Rommy invites us to be inspired by the phrase, 'stay curious'.



26 comments:

  1. " real men
    include the gentle" - lovely memories and brought together so tenderly too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rajani. I'm not sure if it will stay in this form, but it was good to get it down.

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  2. What gifts and respect you received from the men in your life. And how fortunate you were willing, and had the heart, to receive them.

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    1. It was so from when I was just a little kid, and I adored them both, so there was no trouble accepting.

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  3. So lucky to have had that upbringing. My dad could swing from rough to gentle but he did spur my interest in human nature and gave us an oral history of story.

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    1. Ah, my Dad's feet of clay were revealed later (not roughness but weakness) but I still benefited from all the good things of the early years.

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  4. Sooo many memories evoked here, I love it!! Mosrly true? When I was reading of your brother"s curiosity and satisfaction I first read by "the gentle and those who DRINK"!!
    My grandfather and I also got together a lot. He had a stud horse and he would take me riding with him in his oversized pickup on breeding days making his rounds. I had to stay in the truck for the works and business stuff. I.e. I didn't learn of the birds and bees from him. Nor from my dad. But from the kids, boys and girls. Girls first, in the first grade my classmate invited me into the storm cellar to "explore".
    Nothing from Dad, he got his kicks boxing me around. I doubt I will ever forgive him for that.
    ..

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    1. All true as far as it goes. As I just indicated to Colleen, I became disillusioned in my Dad later, but for other reasons. I'm grateful for these good things.

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  5. Curious indeed - I had a dissimilar upbringing. I could have used a father, and a grandfather.

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    1. I'm sorry you didn't get them. But I see you did acquire enough curiosity to savour life.

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  6. oh! what a moment to be here with your words. I loved Real men include the gentle and that your men said think for yourself. Who would have suspected at this stage of our lives, our country was trying to control women by laws... O.M.G.
    LeeAnna

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    Replies
    1. It's appalling, and I hope this country (Australia) doesn't go backwards like that. I suspect we won't, being somewhat sociologically different – but we have other battles still to fight, such us unequal wages and a high incidence of violence against women.

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  7. How wonderful to have your wonderings taken seriously and encouraged! Very sweet memories indeed.

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    1. Yes, I have come to understand how very fortunate I was.

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  8. Reading your poem, it makes me think that you not only have a father and a grandfather, but also teachers. They understand and respect that you have thoughts of your own, and gently guide you on that. Yes, what would a home be without dictionary and encyclopaedia? As for me, i have been curious since very young. I ask people what are these pill-boxes for, and why they are facing the sea, etc. I am still curious, and have not stop wandering. :)

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    Replies
    1. You're right, they were good teachers in those ways.

      I think curiosity is a great blessing!

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  9. You got me thinking about Daddy. Lucky are we who grew up with positive, loving adult male figures. :-)

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  10. Hi, that last anonymous was me. I’ll get blogger comments yet. Cheers!

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  11. I had mostly women for role models. I love cooking and cleaning and raising kids but not if I'm expected to. Thank goodness the 60's came around and made me question roles.

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes, I too am very thankful for the social revolution that was the sixties!

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  12. Your father and grandfather gave you and your brother priceless gifts: to be your gentlest, most inquisitive selves.

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    Replies
    1. Yes – while our childhood was far from perfect, there were some ways in which we were very blessed.

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  13. I'm glad for you...glad you still have your brother!

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    Replies
    1. Yes. He is in another country, but we interact on facebook or by email. Even the occasional phone-call, e.g. for birthdays.

      Delete

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