Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.
Won't you curl up and die in my arms, little darlin'
Won't you curl up and die in my arms, little one
Your daddy is home and the full moon is fallin'
Stop weepin' - stop weepin'
Your cryin' is done - Your cryin' is done
- "Curl Up and Die" by Uncle Dave Griffin
I was married for the first time in 1982. At 28 years, I had more than satisfied my young adult leanings, playing music on the road with a full-time nightclub band. I had seen a bit of the world and I had experienced quite a lot; but, nothing in life, thus far, had prepared me for fatherhood. Knowing full well how one gets to that point, once I got there, I was somewhat unsure and a little bit scared of what lay ahead.
I recall the twinkle in Mama's blue eyes because soon-to-be Grandmas are always excited about the news. On the other hand, I sensed a sadistic glee in the handshakes from the members of the Daddy Club—as if they were sayin', “Heh, heh, heh...yeah, you done it alright. Nothin' will ever be the same now, boy!”
We moved from a two-story apartment on Bay Street to Moye's Trailer Park, as I'm sure it saved money; and, then proceeded to get the baby's new room together—although, there ain't a lot you can do with knotty pinewood paneling and baby shit-brown colored shag carpet. So, on the bedroom wall, we tacked up a huge Winnie-the-Pooh bear and a smilin' clown hangin' on to a bouquet of balloons for dear life—he reminded me of me at the time.
Carrying a baby, I am convinced, is a miracle of miracles; and, my wife, Dawn, was doin' a stand-up job—until. She was about seven months into the pregnancy when we rode with her parents, Billy and Gertrude Griffis, up to Atlanta for a visit with my new brother-in-law, Terry, and his lovely wife, Delane.
We were cruisin' along on I-75, Atlanta traffic pickin' up heavier and heavier to match the syncopated rhythms of Joe Jackson's “Steppin' Out” on the radio, when Dawn screamed next to me in the back seat, “I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” Billy yelled, “Shut up!” and things fell back into place; but I was shell-shocked, feeling like an extra in The Exorcist, staring in fright as the Devil's voice came cursin' out of Linda Blair's mouth.
Well, the first trimester turned into the second...and so on and so on...until March 12, 1983 rolled around. By this time, we had done all the baby birthing classes; and, I was feelin' much more composed. Dawn opted for composure via the ol' spinal tap epidural in order to block out the pain, as I waited patiently through the psychedelic contractions.
When they ordered me to put my scrubs on and wash up, my adrenaline kicked into high gear. I glanced over to the other side of the room and saw Dr. Dan Lott, our obstetrician, curled up asleep on a hospital cot in a fetal position—cool as a stainless steel bed pan.
Not only was I prepared to take an active role in the delivery room—I also took an early Eighties video camera in with me to document my little girl's debut performance. The equivalent of texting and driving nowadays, it must not have been a first for Memorial Hospital, because the nurses hardly responded when I yelled, “Action!”
I blended in with the forceps and the hemostats, throwing in an occasional “Breathe!” or “Push!”. Thankfully, everybody ignored me and did their job. I ended up with a beautiful over-Dawn's-shoulder shot of Megan Eileen Griffin coming kickin' and screamin' into our world.
Now—twice a mother herself—my little girl turns 35 on Monday; and, she still has my heart wrapped around her finger. She's smart, kind, and as beautiful as her Aunt Eileen Griffis, who she was named after; and, I'm as proud a daddy as most of you probably are. And, for all of you future fathers out there, waitin' nervously in the wings, my advice is “Breathe—don't push, Daddy—just breathe.”
8th Annual Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival
March 9-10, 2018
Okefenokee Fairgrounds : Waycross, Georgia
Advance Weekend Passes:
YouTube Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin