I’ve written here often and at length about my lovely daughter, Abby, aka, The Snarl. That nickname stuck after one particularly trying hair brushing episode. She was three and had that softest, finest, golden hair that angels sometimes have. It tended to tangle up during sleep and I finally exclaimed, in exasperation, "Abisnarl!" You already know that she is my golden girl- bright and funny and accomplished and lacking sufficient caution. A lover of nature, a master of chess, an explorer. She is a mermaid, too.
Here is one small anecdote. When she was twelve years old I took her to Nevis in the West Indies and we stayed in an open frame bungalow perched on the side of the volcano, hanging over the sea. We had a broad, wide porch and when we leaned over the rail we could see, far far below, eagle rays gliding past. One afternoon I hired a young local man to take us out in his small boat and teach us to snorkel. I was so worried about getting sea water in my snorkel that I only hesitantly floated about the surface. This young man was a free diver; he earned extra money by diving down to great depths without any equipment to search for rare and desirable shells to sell to tourists. After he dove down and stayed under for what seemed an eternity he came up with a beautiful small yellow shell that he gave to Abby and he said, "Come see. There’s a turtle down there." And before I could speak, down they went. And they stayed down under the water. Almost forever. And when she came up she was smiling like never before and then she was transformed. Now she dives with equipment in blue holes, night dives, and she can use that special mix of nitrox for particularly deep or long dives. And she free dives. She goes down, under the sea, just as a mermaid might.
So,does this birthday mean that she will no longer be my baby? Twenty-one seems to be one of those milestone birthdays and since I had her at thirty-six this birthday, in particular, leaves me feeling somewhat old. But I’d rather not think that it’s too old to have a baby nor that 21 is too old to be someone’s baby because she will always be mine. Happy Birthday, Abigail.
maggie and millie and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)
and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and
milly discovered a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;
and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles; and
may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin’s back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,