“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”
– John Ed Pierce
This is my grandfather, Leonard Alphonse Laporte. (Note the small ‘p’ in LaPorte – in high school I decided a capital P was more elegant.)
This is Len. Like most French Canadian grand-daughters, I called him Pepe (Pip-ay). Dig the smoke, eh? Camel lights.
Len sold the family farm and bought a small bike repair shop and built it into a popular sporting goods store in Windsor, Ontario, just ‘cross the Detroit border. So for Christmas I got soccer balls and ice skates. I wanted the hard cover edition of the Little House on The Prairie and some oil pastels. Every family has a black sheep.
As a modern-minded, progressive chick, I’ve spent a vast amount of energy re-defining myself. And that has usually meant looking forward, getting far away from backwards and roots and origins. Far away from Hockey Night in Canada, and Chrysler, and trailer camping. I spent most of my adult life living in the US, working in communications, aspiring to relax in four-star hotels.
AFFINITY AND APPRECIATION ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.
I’m not embarassed of where I came from, I just never felt like it was the right home for my spirit. I never felt deeply connected to it. And if there’s a lack of connection, there is often a lack of appreciation. And while connection isn’t something that can be forced, appreciation is something that can actually be fostered. By celebrating our origins–even if they have little resemblance to our ideals–we call forth our wholeness, a greater love.
Even if you intensely do not want to turn into your mother, there’s something beautiful about her that also lives in you. Whether it’s country clubs or country music that makes you want to hurl, there’s something about growing up in a radically different scene that’s added to your street smarts, your grace, your grit. Finding the charm factor where we’ve long felt sour is the stuff of wisdom… and relief.
By plucking out the strands of delight, those fibers of nourishment from even the most ill-fitting situations, we can weave ourselves a stronger fabric of identity. A heavy material that makes us durable, or something softened by surrendered love. Warmer. More colourful.
When I see this photo of my pip, I feel thankful to have come from a family of hard workers who know how to party. I’m happy for the trailer park where I sneaked my first smoke, for Sunday masses that showed me the glory of faith, and for growing up in an industry town that taught me about big hair and bling. (You can take the girl out of the small town, but she’ll always wanna have big hair.)
What do you love about your origins?