Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Where I'm From

I am from clean clothes, from a warm bed and always enough to eat.

I am from a duplex on a quiet side street, where cats were cohabitants and love was plentiful. Sunshine has never since been as warm or comforting as it was then, dancing with dust motes, on the puffy-beaded white bedspread.

I am from my Mom's rose bush in the backyard, as well as the willow tree we planted when I was seven (and which I cried about 25 years later when the new landlord cut it down.)

I am from always offering food to guests and never afraid to tell a joke, from unconditional love and a never-ending supply of hugs and kisses, from Ma, Pa, Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Ba, Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Rick, Uncle Jim, Auntie Jeanne, Aunt Loretta, Aunt Pat, Uncle David, and at least thirty-five or forty others who should be mentioned here, but won't be. I am from feeling guilty about that.

I am from the even-tempered Drowns and the highly-emotional Sullivans. I am from the long-lived Barcellos and the lucky-to-see-retirement-age MacPhersons.

From "Clean your plate! There are people starving in Africa!" (to which I replied, "Then send them this stuff!")

I am from Catholics who truly believed, as well as freethinkers who lived as though they did. They all had an inner longing to see the other fellow do well, though, and my own Christianity is backed by that example more than any dogma. I am from an utter lack of jealousy, so far as I can tell.

I'm from Dorchester, by way of Ireland, France, England, Scotland, Spain, and probably one or two other places nobody in my family is willing to admit that my ancestors had sex in. I am from baked stuffed pork chops, beef stew, homemade baked beans, peanut butter cookies and bread pudding.

From Love, Love, and More Love.

I am from almost every open space in the places where I've lived, but especially the wall by the stairs in 14 Caddy Road.

(The instructions said to name the location of family pictures, mementos, archives... I am from a need to explain.)

I am from please, thank you, and you're welcome.

I am from happy. I still live there, as a matter of fact.


The origin of this piece is from, who got the idea from the poem Where I'm From by George Ella Lyon. In turn, I was directed to those things by Sarah. Thank you, Sarah.

Soon, with more better stuff.


lime said...

oh! this was wonderful. i did my own version of this a long time ago when it was going around the blogosphere (actually i did two, one for my general family history and then one for my grandfather...i just couldn't let it go until i had). i read many of these by other people and not a single one failed to move me. yours is no exception to that.

your final line really is just the best summation. my friend, you are doubly blessed...once by forces out of your control for being given such a wonderful background and once by yourself for being wise enough to recognize how blessed you are.


Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

I've never read such a wonderful, what inspired you to write that?

Truly beautiful prose. Love it!

Sarah said...

and what a beautiful job you've done with it.

a wonderful tribute to what makes you you.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Good grief, we might be related. I'm from the sort of Heinz 57 clan, including all the love and non-jealousy for others' successes. That was great. Write on!

Buck said...

Very nice, Jim. We have a few of the same roots... although not in the genealogical or geographical sense.

Well done!

Anonymous said... The origin is new to me. You are a great writer, a solid wit, and, I suspect, a wonderful human being. Am I a smarmy suckup? I don't care, when I see it, I tell it, and you Mr.Suldog-at the risk of incurring your well known sharp tongue, are a special bloke.

GreenJello said...

What an amazing piece of writing!

Jenn said...

How excellent :) It is so nice to read more about you and from a more sentimental side of things is great. Isn't it funny how so many of us came from such similar places (hugs & kisses, warm beds, Catholic and starving African threats) but grew so differently? This is a beautiful snippet of the path you've taken to get you to today :)

Michal said...

i haven't been by in a while, sucked into my own life!:)
that was beautifully written. and shows your gratitude for who you are and whom you owe for that. you are a fortunate man to come from there.

tshsmom said...

That was beautiful!

Mushy said...

Except for the cat (pwwt), we are from the same place.

Wonderful sentiments Sul. Thanks for sharing.

Sandra Ree said...

This made me emotional.

Beautiful, Suldog.

Love the sweet picture too.

Janet said...

That's lovely. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to your family, and how beautifully you did that.

Melinda said...

That was just beautiful. Very inspiring and an excellent way to give tribute to your family.
All of the things that make you such a fantastic blogger - the humour, the realness, the open honesty of who you are - can be traced back to where you're from.

thanks for sharing

Jeni said...

Since I started blogging two years ago, I've had the opportunity to read several of these "I am from" pieces and as Lime commented, they have never failed to move me.
I always enjoy visiting here -even when you start stirring heavily in the sports pot but especially when you have a topic that lends itself to you to show you sentimental side. You really do shine then, for sure! Great post! Most definitely! Oh and the kids I was told were starving were all from China.

Janet said...

OK, I did this one and the Thanksgiving Comes First. With a Queenly quote thrown in for free. Enjoy.

Elaine said...

I have read several of these too, over the years. This was beautifully written, Suldog. Very moving.
I may even attempt it myself :)

CrazyCath said...

Oh wow Jim this is wonderful stuff. "... with more better stuff." ??
It doesn't get any better than this.
I like where you are from. You have a lot to be proud of. You are a good, kind and caring soul.

God bless you.

Amazing writing. Don't ever tell me you can't write or you write trash. This piece makes that statement the lie of the century!

Mona said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mona said...

O Dear! I wonder if the postman is ever going to read that postal address fully!

& I am from India ( Simply)

mlh said...

Suldog, you never cease to amaze me with your posts. I'm flabbergasted, and I used that word because you like it so much and I like you so much!

Suldog said...

I get a kick out of the fact that Google Ads has scanned this and believes that I'm mourning. Look at the ads that appeared below!

George Ella Lyon said...

Hey, Jim,

I'm the original WIF poet and loved your poem. "I am from happy"--I'll remember that!

If you're interested in writing more, there's a list of "where to go from 'where I'm from'" on my website ( where you can also hear me read the poem and learn about my books.

Yours for the wonders we are from,

George Ella Lyon

Shammickite said...

I am from Canada.

Lauri said...

Wonderful stuff. I am from please, thank you, and you are welcome too.

Suldog said...

Oops! My VERY Bad!

I got George Ella Lyon's name wrong, by adding an unintended "s" to the end. I've corrected that now. Of course, I shouldn't be too stressed about it, as Ms. Lyon herself missed a crucial "e" in her website address :-) is correct

I'm flabbergasted (to use my favorite word) to see that Ms. Lyon came here. Wow.

Everybody should go to her site. It's tremendous.

Kuanyin Moi said...

Well, I can't imagine more better stuff for this was so fabulous. I'm inspired to riff on it too as you did the original. May I?

Ragtop Day said...

I loved this so much I did my own post on it too. I can understand Google thinking you're in mourning as there is a very wistful, yearning tone to it (and to mine too, I think). I will definitely check out George Ella Lyon's site for more!

Velvet Ginger said...

Hi there, visiting fomr Celebration of Life blog...
I sure enjoyed your little auto-biobraphy of your example that we are all a product of our past!
Family & playing outsdie & homeade foods are from my Wyoming background. Thanks for sharing!

Suldog said...

Kuanyin - Of course! I shamelessly riffed on Ms. Lyon's original, and she said she liked it, so who would I have to think I am to say, "No! You can't riff on my copy!"

SteveK said...

as an old lower mills guy (Wichita Terrace), Gilbie Alum, I love this blog

You got a gift :)

And thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers.. things are mucho better

Steve (Armenian Hillbilly)

Anonymous said...

Suldof...I am back again to thank you for your comment and to tell you that the link you gave me did not work.

Have I missed something?

Carol said...

ah, Jim....this is wonderful....a 'window' to who you are! I saw Sarah's post, and wrote one I am saving for next week. Beautiful. Who you are. Where you're from.

Janet said...

Oooh, George Ella commented on mine too! How cool is that?

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Thanks for sharing a little more of who you are in your wonderful writing style.
Peace, Judi

Hilary said...

This is the masterpiece of blog posts. Simply beautiful!

david mcmahon said...

We're from the same place, Suldog.

Merisi said...

what a memorable essay, and a great inspiration. As a parent, I could not wish for anything more that I would want to give my children than to be able to say one day that they came from a place like yours.
Hugs from V.,

Sandi McBride said...

What a wonderful memory post...your heart was int this one, and your tears...and the is lovely

quilly said...

I came from David's -- late. I like your version of this poem. You are clearly from an open, loving, joyful place and it glows in the reflection off your words.

I did this post long ago. Thank you for reminding me.