Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Baby

I held Jenna in my arms.
She's been fed and changed. It's time for bed. I select a cassette, slide it into the play deck and close the door. I press "PLAY".
With Jenna cradled in my left arm she sucks contentedly on a pacifier as we silently move around the living room. My right index finger gently taps the beat on the base of the pacifier. Inexplicably, this soothes her. Soon, her eyes are closing...then opening with a start! Closing...opening!
One song ends...another begins.
"Be My Baby" announces its arrival with one of the most dramatic introductions in all of rock & roll. The drums are the Morse code of the music gods — and somehow it just keeps getting better from there. I start a swing step around the room, slowly twirling my daughter around as I softly sing along:
"The night we met
I knew I needed you so
And if I ever had the chance
I'd never let you go"
Jenna exhales softly yet firmly. Her eyes close again.
"So won't you say you love me
I'll make you so proud of me
We'll make 'em turn their heads
Every place we go
So won't you please

Be my, be my baby
Be my little baby
My one and only baby
Say you'll be my darling
Be my, be my baby
Be my baby now
My one and only baby"
Looking down at my daughter, I realize that there is nothing I want more than to make her proud of me. Recently separated, we're dancing in her mom's living room because I do not have a home of my own yet. At the moment it is hard to imagine that I will someday. But I will - for her. A soft turn, a two step and we sway along to the music. Her breathing is more regular now. I continue to croon.
"I'll make you happy, baby
just wait and see
For every kiss you give me
I'll give you three"
This is my world. This moment, with my daughter, is everything. She can't understand what I'm saying. She doesn't get the lyrics and she will never remember this dance. All she has is in the now - the support of my arm, the warmth of my body, the sound of my voice and the tap tap tap of my finger on the end of the pacifier and the music that envelopes us both.
"Oh, since the day I saw you
I have been waiting for you
You know I will adore you
Till eternity so won't you please"
Yet, to me, here and now, this is my bond to her. That I will always be here for her, for my "baby"; for my little girl who has given my life a depth and meaning that it never had before. I slow the tempo our dance and bend down to kiss her cheek. Her breathing is deep and regular. I softly finish the last chorus.
"Be my, be my baby
Be my little baby
My one and only baby
Say you'll be my darling
Be my, be my baby
Be my baby now
My one and only baby"
The music fades out. I turn off the stereo and the house is silent. Quietly, we climb the stairs to her bedroom. I gently lay Jenna in her crib and walk away slowly and softly, with only the sound of her breathing in my ears and the Ronettes on my mind.
This became our nighttime song and my silent bond to her was found in these lyrics.

* * *

Years later, Jenna and I were driving somewhere in the car. She was six years old. I was scanning through stations and the familiar drumbeat rocked the car. I stopped scanning, lost in the memory of dances with my daughter.
Suddenly, Jenna leans forward in her car seat and says, "Daddy, I KNOW this song. I don't know how I know it it but I know it...don't I?"
"Yes, honey; you know this song."
My baby; sixteen today.


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

What a wonderful, vivid, post Andy. Nicely done. Les mots magnifiques d'un auteur vrai.


9:08 AM, August 26, 2008  
Blogger Cynthia said...

They grow too fast. When I was home with both girls as babies and I had been pooped/thrown up/spit up on for the umpteenth time, my nerves were shot and so was my figure, I would listen with restraint when people would tell me that. Now I know how true it is.

Beautiful post, Andy. And I love that song.

What are the party plans? Or are the ferrets enough? How are they?

9:53 AM, August 26, 2008  
Blogger Andy said...

I'm chaperoning the "Sweet 16" party for her friends this afternoon. And the ferrets are fine; thanks for asking.

10:23 AM, August 26, 2008  
Blogger Suldog said...

Excellent post. Well done!

12:06 PM, August 26, 2008  
Blogger me said...

That is such a touching post. (Makes me miss my dad... even if he wasn't ever that poetic.)

8:45 PM, August 26, 2008  
Blogger margalit said...

My twins just turned 16 on the 24th. This was such a lovely post. It brought tears to my eyes.

Happy Birthday, Jenna

2:52 AM, August 27, 2008  
Blogger Rick in Duxbury said...

Absolutely beautiful, Andy. I envy your eloquent voice. Keep up the good work.

12:32 PM, August 28, 2008  
Blogger Bridget said...

Beautiful memory. Thanks for sharing. Your baby is sixteen and mine is nearly six. How time flies. I used to dance with Riley to "My Girl".

Happy Birthday, Jenna!

4:19 PM, August 28, 2008  

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