Her birth certificate name is Jeremy Johanna Bradley. And when she was a baby and would get fussy (as babies do, our son would sing to her, "Jeremy-mimi-mimi". After a while, we did too. So, since she was the most fussy baby ever for the first six months of her life, all that singing named her Mimi. And she is to this day.) At six months, her brain flipped or something, and she became the best child ever. My plan was to call her JJ but that never materialized.
So, I just got home from the Cluster book group at St. James and was mindlessly playing Hearts on the computer when the phone rang. I wanted to finish the hand and got to the phone as it stopped ringing. No message. I dialed *69 and when I heard the number I knew it was Mimi. I hit '1' to call back and got a message from Cox Communications that something or other was keeping my call from going through. OK, I thought, but being flexible, I called her on my cell phone and got her voice mail. I left a message and went back to my Heart's game.
All the time, in the deepest, murkiest recesses of my mind, anxious thoughts were rising into the mist that is my brain. Why couldn't I get her back when she'd just called? She lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan, why would a father worry about his daughter, I ask you?
So, when I went out to smoke a cigarette on the back porch, I called her again. By then I had horrible thoughts racing around my gray matter about what she might be experiencing. I am not a 'worry wort', but when it's Mimi...I worry....
She is my baby girl, my Princess, my shining wonder, my heart.
She answered. "I just got home, Daddy, and I'm eating dinner," she said. I knew she was because she was chewing a mouthful as she spoke. "Can I call you tomorrow?"
"Of course," I said, breathing a sigh of great relief. "Love you."
Then, after that, I walked around the house looking at the pictures of Mimi: as a little girl, running down the hill in my father's yard, intent and wondrous; as a teen on our front porch; almost identical photos of the four of us at her graduation from Bennington College and Josh's law school graduation; with our twin granddaughters, both of them looking at her and talking and her listening; as a baby on the beach in North Carolina; her high-school yearbook photos; Bern and Mimi both inside the huge rain coat I still wear, laughing that they both are inside it; a series of photos of her with Tim, her 'long time companion'--I've decided to stop calling him her 'boyfriend' since they've lived together for years in what I see as a comfortable bliss (I love, adore Tim).
I wouldn't want her to know and hope she doesn't read this blog about how much I love her and how when I can't contact her, I worry. She is a remarkable young woman who doesn't need my worry and fretting. And I don't either.
From time to time you'll find me wandering through our home, staring at the pictures of Josh and Mimi, almost feeling the moment 'in the moment', remembering and pondering and almost welling up with tears for the love of them.
I never imagined it would be like this--back when I was a young father. I was 28 when Josh was born and 31 when Mimi was born. It all seems, not a long time ago, but another lifetime, another existence. Lordy, young children focus you in a way that makes it impossible to imagine they won't always be young.
But they grow up. And they go away. And it is impossible and, I think, wrong, to want to remain the part of their lives that I was for what seems like forever and was really a heart-beat.
So, I, from time to time, wander around our house, staring at pictures that capture moments long gone that are, when I see them, present and real and right now.
Mimi is my Princess, Josh is my Bonnie Bobby Shaftoe. I stare into the past as I look at those photographs. And the Past become alive. I do that more than I'm comfortable telling you.
I never believed the elders who told me how it would be.
And they spoke Truth.
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