By Ernie McCray
Our girl, Tawny Maya (Tawny My, for short), is now a mom and, as I watch her kiss and coo and cradle her little bundle of delight, looking at ways to adapt to his personality so she can best tend to his needs, I’d say he is one lucky son-of-a-gun.
I look at her in a picture, posing in her natural loveliness, as her mother had, in the same gown, a little more than thirty-five years ago and I can’t help but recall how we waited for Tawny and her sister, Nyla Summer, just bubbling with anticipation.
Oh, I wish Nancy could see this mom we raised, and all I can say for myself right now is if I had anything to do with who she has become today then please excuse me while I pat the hell out of my back. All I tried to do, basically, was treat her with love and respect, do somersaults when she accomplished something, anything, and go easy on the tendency grownups have to address their children’s screw-ups with B.S. jive like “Why, I’ve never heard of such a thing.” I tried to keep it real and what a deal because it paid off.
She’s totally into the role of being a mom just like her mom was with her. And, like her mom, she has a good dad by her side, eager to do all there is to do when a baby joins your family.
When Tawny was born, though, her parents were doing okay financially. But she found out recently that she might not have a job as a reporter when her maternity leave comes to an end. Her beat has been eliminated.
That frightens me. Especially since she can flat-out write. It’s her passion in life. But, knowing her, she will figure it all out in time. It’s still scary, though.
I hope I’m around long enough to tell Lyric stories about his remarkable mama. I want him to know all kinds of things like her name, Tawny, represents the vanilla of her mother’s skin and the chocolate of mine. And Maya, her middle name, was given to her out of our love for Ms. Angelou.
I’ll tell him how his mother used to play the flute and the piano and I’ll whisper to him “Get her to play those instruments again.”
When we walk by the sea or a river or a lake or a pool I want him to know that his mother could swim before she could talk and walk.
And I want him to know how brave his mother is, how, one day when she was three or four or maybe even younger, she climbed the stairs leading up to the high dive at the JCC, after her more daring twin sister had jumped to applause and praise – and she panicked. We talked her through it and she jumped and her face radiated with both horror and joy. And then she was back up the ladder, feeling good about her resolve. It will be one of those “hang in there and just do it” kind of conversations.
So much to tell about that young woman in the picture wearing the gown that her mother once wore: her soccer and track days at San Diego High, where she won more sports letters than her “legendary” dad ever did; her terpsichorean talent, and I can see her in her first dance recital, a little girl about four, so into it, trying to initiate each move with soulful precision, step for step, beat by beat, with happy searching feet, a budding artist at work, making her mother and me laugh and cry out of sheer enjoyment and pride, a precious moment I hold dear inside; her acting chops, being put up in a nice hotel where her sister and I read a play aloud at a conference on literature, receiving individual stipends, which pleased the girls no end.
I’ll proudly relate how his mother and I and her sister and Carlos, her little brother, sang “Rosa, Rosa, Rosa,” a song I wrote, to Sister Rosa Parks herself. A highlight in our lives.
An award winning poem Tawny once wrote on peace will give me an opportunity to talk about concepts of love and getting along.
And if my beautiful daughter is nothing else she is one of the most peaceful and loving human beings I have ever known, as not once when she and her twin sister were growing up did we have to separate them because of a spat. Not ever. Only once did I hear either one of them snap at the other and it was but a loud whisper and they continued on with whatever they were doing with no loss of flow.
Well, although Nancy isn’t around, I want her to rest easy because our little girl is going to be just like her: a mom del mundo. Just thinking about our Tawny My gives me a glow. It’s going to be so much fun watching Lyric grow.