I was about twenty-two or twenty-three when my cousin Mary Ann had her first child. A celebration and family gathering was held and I went to visit with all my cousins, and the first family members I talked to were my Aunt Marian and Mary Ann. They were standing in the living room and talking, and I asked about the baby. It was a girl and had been named Tess. I asked where Tess was, and my aunt and cousin pointed to a crib they had been facing the whole time. I immediately went over to the crib and saw Tess for the first time.
Tess was a beautiful baby with large, shockingly beautiful eyes that were looking right at me. I felt this was a wonderful sign. My younger brother Jack had been the same way. Even as a baby Jack was looking right at you as if he was already starting to learn. He grew up a genius, a brilliant man. Immediately I felt the same way about Tess. Here was someone special and blessed.
I picked Tess up carefully for I had little experience picking up newborns, talked baby talk to her, then turned around to face the living room. Everyone had stopped their conversations and was staring at me, not in horror, but in dismay as if I had done something wrong. It was unsettling, but I am at times a hardy soul, so I swayed over to Aunt Marian and Mary Ann and asked what was the matter. Had I done something wrong?
Aunt Marian explained that Tess was having difficulties and would cry all the time. She had been crying all morning and had finally settled down, and if anyone held her, even her mother or her aunt, she would start crying again. I remember my Aunt Marian adding that she didn't like to be held. I replied, "Well, she's not crying for me," and probably sounded a little arrogant when I said it. I held Tess for a short while until I realized everyone was quiet. It must have been a long morning listening to Tess cry, so I put her back in her crib and she didn't make any sounds. Everyone slowly began talking again.
I will never forget holding Tess. It was at that moment I realized I wanted to have children, and now, because of Tess, I especially wanted a baby girl. It wasn't meant to be.
Shortly after holding her I composed a song on the guitar titled, "Tess."
Wiping the sleep from her eyes,
Daddy's little girl starts to cry.
A bottle of milk and she's fine.
Crawling on her hands and knees
trying to stand but she can't.
Her seat keeps a slappin' the ground.
Diapers to change day and night.
Mommy and I are a sight.
We barely have time for a fight.
A friend o' mine said,
"Hey man, don't you miss havin' fun?
Don't you wish that you'd looked out for ol' number one?"
And I said, "Look.
Tess is asleep in my arms."