By Joe Darby
When my daughter Becky was two or three yeas old she loved music. We had several children’s music records (yes, records, not electronic devices) that she loved to listen to and would dance around in a little circle to the tunes.
But she also loved a Simon and Garfunkel album that included “Sounds of Silence,” which was one of my favorites also.
One night, when her bedtime was approaching, I found her sitting in front of the stereo set (for you youngsters, a stereo set played the records). The set was off, but she seemed engrossed in something. “What are you doing, sweetheart,” I asked. Her reply just about floored me.
“I listening to silence, Daddy.”
What an amazing little kid she was and she and her sister Liz remain amazing women. And for Father’s Day I found myself recalling some of my favorite memories of them when they were little. Last holiday season I wrote about two great Christmas Eve stories involving them, so I won’t repeat those now. But, with your indulgence, let me share just a few recollections that space will allow.
Of course my views are biased as I still see my girls as very special people, as most dads do with their offspring. But let me tell you about their imaginations.
They had extensive Barbie and Ken collections, as well as a whole bunch of what they called the little people, small plastic figures that came with all sorts of little houses and vehicles.
Becky and Liz concocted elaborate plots and adventures for their toys, with some of them seemingly more out of a soap opera than from your run of the mill playtime story.
And they went for realism. One time they staged a fancy school graduation for some of the Little People and had the presence of mind to come to me to borrow my classical tape of “Pomp and Circumstance,” probably the most popular tune played at commencement ceremonies. Within minutes, I heard the strains of the music coming from the playroom (a converted and carpeted garage) and looked in to see Little People lined up to get their diplomas.
Today, they are both wonderful nurses, as was their mother, and have brought comfort to countless patients over the last 20 or 25 years. But I think that medicine’s gain was show business’ loss, because they could have written movie and TV plots to rival anything we see today.
Liz was also a great mimic. She could do almost any voice she heard on TV and often kept the family in stitches with her natural comedic talent. Liz also loved animals and nature and I’d often drive the girls to the New Orleans Nature Center. On the way, Liz would become one of her favorite personas, a gypsy fortune teller named Sonia.
With her ready wit and realistic East European accent, she was a delight to us, making a somewhat long drive seemingly pass in no time.
I always had a rather extensive personal library and Becky used to like to slowly walk along the shelves, reading the titles of the books. Being a true Louisiana girl, she spied a biography of President Herbert Hoover and asked, “Daddy, who is ‘A-bear’ Hoover?” She hadn’t noticed the r in the President’s first name and naturally assumed he was one of those Hebert Cajuns.
She also got a big kick out of a book about the famed 17th century London diarist Samuel Pepys. She asked who “Pep-is” was and when I explained that it was pronounced
“Peeps,” she laughed about that for days.
Gosh, there are so many other stories I could share with you, but space precludes. I know that all of you have very special memories of your own children and that you, like me, cherish those recollections.
And a word to you younger parents. Try to enjoy every minute of your child’s life now, because they will be grown up and on their own before you know it. Bless you all.