Segarini: Raising Amy – The Annual Hippo Birdie Two Ewes
“Your Son is your Son ‘till he takes a wife, but your Daughter is your Daughter for the rest of your life”
No one seems to know who first uttered this quote, but it has definitely stood the test of time. The first time I ever heard it was from my mother when my wife and I had our one and only child. At first I thought my mother was just being (as always) supportive, because, being Italian, it is assumed I wanted a boy child to carry on the family name and be a ‘chip off the old block’. The truth of the matter is that I prayed for a little girl…and we were blessed with one of the best.
“Our daughters are the most precious of our treasures, the dearest possessions of our homes and the objects of our most watchful love.” – Margaret E. Sangster
She was a wee little thing when she was born…still is, actually…a beautiful pink bundle just a few ounces over 5 pounds with a firm grip and a melodious wail right out of the chute. She was born in Montreal and delivered by a 6’7 doctor originally from Hawaii ironically named Dr. Robert, who was an easy going man of humour and skill and who graciously allowed me to bring a cassette player so there would be music playing when the baby arrived and, after he had the lights dimmed and a large roll-away mirror positioned so my wife Cheryl could watch herself give birth, delivered a bouncing baby girl and forever changed our lives.
“A daughter is a bundle of firsts that excite and delight, giggles that come from deep inside and are always contagious, everything wonderful and precious and your love for her knows no bounds”. – Barbara Cage
Truth be told, I wasn’t a great father. When Amy was born in Montreal, the Leveque-run government turned on the Anglo community and made it almost impossible to work as a musician there, so…reluctantly…we relocated to Toronto so I could complete my first solo album and we could raise our daughter. It would be a move that would be a blessing…and Toronto became not just a place we lived, but our home.
With the help of friends who became nannys (much appreciation to Jean, and then Vee) my strong, supportive, and tireless wife did most of the raising while I immersed myself in the rock and roll lifestyle and was seldom home.
“All fathers are invisible in daytime; daytime is ruled by mothers and fathers come out at night. Darkness brings home fathers, with their real, unspeakable power. There is more to fathers than meets the eye.” – Margaret Atwood
When I was home, it was usually late, in the middle of the night when my little family was sound asleep and I was winding down. While they were awake, during the day, it was I who was asleep, snoring away in bed or on the couch while my family’s life went on around me. Even in Montreal, late at night, I remember standing in the doorway of Amy’s room…staring down at this little human being, so beautiful and fragile, and important, and wondered if I could ever live up to the role my father had filled in my life, that all fathers are expected to fill. Large shoes for me to fill, and counter to everything I felt I was capable of doing. I would stand there, move closer to her crib, and wonder if I would ever be up to the task and fearing I wouldn’t be. Do all fathers feel this at some point or another? I didn’t know.
While I worked in the studio and played music in the clubs and colleges, Amy was in the more-than-capable hands of her mother and her nanny most of the time. There were times, though, when I would be able to spend some time with her and completely forget my obsession with the lifestyle I was becoming addicted to.
Time slips away, and when Ames started to walk, then talk, then begin to become the person she would grow up to be, I started to realize that I wanted to be a better father, be there more often, participate in her life more than I had. Even so, I found it difficult to tear myself away from my chosen profession, to say ‘no’ to gigs, or events, or invitations. There would be many more nights of standing over her crib, then her bed, looking down at this little miracle with both love and fear. Love for her and everything she stood for in my life, and fear that I could never be the father she, or any child, truly deserves.
Some Amy Stories
“A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future”. – Author Unknown
I never talked down to my daughter. For some reason, the depth and intelligence in her eyes, her passion for reading, (even at a very early age), and her seemingly boundless curiosity, made baby-talk or indulgent prattle seem unfair to her. She was (and is) an ‘Old Soul’, and was already capable of independent thought and cognitive skills some people MY age never seem to achieve. Some of our conversations, even at 2 or 3 years of age, were humbling. Still…she was just a little girl, and any father will tell you, there is no greater feeling in the world than the love you feel for them and the love they show for you.
She inherited the beauty and sweetness she possesses from her mother…and watching her like I did, I was constantly amazed at her ability to navigate through her childhood as easily and as independently as she did. I also learned that she is indeed, her father’s daughter.
When she still had to sit in a high chair, Amy, her mother, and her grandmother were in a fashionable restaurant in Stockton California during a visit there. My mother wanted to show her off to her ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ friends and have a Crab Louie, a seafood salad sadly unavailable here in Toronto, which consists of Dungeness crab, white asparagus, hard-boiled egg slices, black olives, and thousand island/seafood dressing on a bed of crisp, shredded iceberg lettuce. My mom and Cheryl, (who could both cuss like sailors on occasion) had obviously been overheard by the adorable, curly headed poppet, were shocked when Ames dropped her fork on the floor and exclaimed ‘SHIT!’ to the amusement of the surrounding tables and the red-faced embarrassment of mom and grandmom. One of them leaned over and whispered to Amy, “Honey, you can only use that word if you hurt yourself, and not until you get a lot older.” Amy considered this for a moment, then, with a huge smile forming on her little face, slammed her head down on the tray of her high chair, and rubbing the growing lump on her forehead, yelled “SHIT!” again.
My mother laughed so hard she peed her pants.
My mother was visiting us in Toronto when Amy was around 2 years old. While Cheryl and I were in the kitchen, my mom sat on the couch in the living room keeping an eye on Ames, who was reading a little ‘Golden Book’. Amy got up and started to walk across the living room, her nose still buried in her book, oblivious to her surroundings. With my mother watching, she walked into the coffee table, banging her knee against one of the legs, muttered a very un-child-like “fuck”, and changed her course without even looking up from her book.
My mother laughed so hard she peed her pants…again.
Years later, Cheryl got upset with Ames about cussing when they got into arguments . I explained that we had only ourselves to blame, that she had picked up the habit from us. Truth be told, she NEVER cussed outside the house in the company of other adults. She would also help them with housework, babysit, or walk their dogs. That said, her room looked like a bomb had exploded in it until her friends started to come around and she started keeping it a little cleaner.
I went looking for something in her room once, I don’t recall what it was, but I remember opening the door and noticing I couldn’t see the carpet because it was covered by magazines, books, clothes, toys, and God knows what else. At one point, I looked under the bed, and was startled to find empty boxes that at one time contained ‘100 sugar cubes’. It said so right on the side of the box. Many all-night sessions of giggles, music, and horseplay when she had sleepovers were finally explained.
Amy decided to have a movie night and sleep over with her closest friends. It ended up with just her and I or 2 others.
Because the movies she chose were Evil Dead 2, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and some other gore riddled horror film. Most of the girls called their parents and asked to be picked up.
How can you possibly not love this kid?
Amy and Music
There was always music in the house…always. Amy’s first record, to the best of my recollection, was a 45 of Blondie’s The Tide is High. She was 3 or 4 years old. I came to hate that song, but I loved watching her develop her taste in music, and thrilled to discover that it was becoming more important to her as she was growing up.
From the time she could walk, Ames had attended soundchecks and musical events that I took part in. More than once I can remember standing on stage with a SG Standard strapped on, a Shure mic in front of me…and a little girl wrapped around my leg sitting on my shoe and giggling. Once, when she was around 4 years old, Segarini, Cole, and Winters were playing the Café on the Park on Eglinton Avenue and my mother brought her down to see us. It was the first time she saw daddy actually perform on the stage in front of an audience. When it came time for us to do a song written by Paul Shaffer and Michael O’ Donoghue for Gilda Radner’s Broadway show, I asked my mom to cover Amy’s ears.
This is why….
The first actual concert I took Ames to see was at the Kingswood Outdoor Concert Venue at Canada’s Wonderland. We sat on a blanket on the lawn and watched Barry Manilow roll out the hits and entertain the packed venue. Amy was glued to the stage and the performance. Watching her watch the show is one of many fond memories I have of Amy’s love of music.
When Ames turned either 8 or 9, she had a party at Chucky Cheese, a themed Pizza place and Video Arcade that catered to children’s parties and the chaos that ensues. I found myself driving a half a dozen young girls to the party and while they chattered away, decided to listen to a mix I had just finished on a track for a record I was producing for the Solid Gold label. After the song started, the chatter died down. when the song finished Amy asked me to play the song again…and again…and again. By the time we got to Chucky Cheese, the girls were singing along with every word. They did the same on the way home.
Amy’s was the happiest, loudest, sweetest voice in the car.
Years later, when we were living in Stockton while my mother recovered from a stroke and an automobile accident, I came home from grocery shopping and heard angelic voices in perfect harmony wafting through the kitchen door into the garage. It was amy and her best friend Kim, singing their favourite song. I had to wait until they were done, and wipe the tears from my eyes before I could bring myself to open the door and enter the kitchen. She could have had a career singing…but Amy has ALWAYS followed her own heart, and I could not be prouder of her for that.
Daddy Goes to a Rock Concert
After years of getting her into shows and introducing her to bands, Amy, who counts Rita Coolidge as her Godmother and refers to Burton Cummings as ‘Uncle Burt’, and once refused a kiss from Andy Gibb, turned the tables on me while we were living in Stockton. She was 15 years old.
By now, her musical taste was fully formed, and she had the 2 qualities I most admire in lovers of music; an open minded love of great songs regardless of genre, and a passion forthe music that touched her and engaged her, and spoke to her as only music can. She was a rocker, pure and simple, and, coupled with her independence and incredible self-motivated ability to ‘get things done’, she walked into the screening room I had built in our garage and asked a simple question.
“Can we go to Cal-Expo and see a concert?”
She told me the date.
“Sure, Honey…sounds like fun”, Easier said than done, I would have to find the money somehow, but I would.
“How much are the tickets?” I asked.
“Oh, don’t worry about that”, she said, “I took care of it already.”
And she had done exactly that.
A couple of weeks later, I find my wife, Ames, and myself standing at the Will Call booth at Cal Expo in Sacramento California, about 45 minutes north of Stockton. Sure enough, Ms. Amy walks up to the window, shows some I.D, and is handed an envelope containing 3 tickets…and 3 backstage passes.
I couldn’t do that when I was 15….
We spend the evening in this perfect little outdoor venue waiting to see Amy’s favourite band of the moment, and I am just awestruck at how we are sitting here and have backstage passes simply because my daughter was determined to make this happen.
The show is a blast, we meet the band afterward, and have a wonderful time all around. I don’t even remember if we stayed around to see the headliners (KISS), but I will NEVER forget my daughter’s excitement, her joy, her happiness. It was so pure, so right…so Amy.
One thing that Amy wasn’t able to do that magic summer night was to give the band a gift she had bought for them to celebrate their newalbum and show her support. She had saved up enough money to buy them a star. A real one, Named after them, it came with a certificate of authentication and a star map to show where their star was in the heavens. In the excitement she had either forgotten it, or was too shy to give it to them, Thanks (again) to the gentleman on the right, she was finally able to give it to them in 2013.
I eventually found out just how much our dear friend Cameron Carpenter had to do with those backstage passes all those years ago at Cal Expo.
Amy has never been shy…and I know where she got that.
My Baby’s Babies….
“A daughter may out grow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart” – Author Unknown
There are a lot of memories I haven’t shared with you here. Amy and I being trapped in a storm and heavy rain while taking a bike ride, making up our own bed time stories when she was young, her bravery in ignoring many doctors advice not to have children and giving birth to her amazing Marshall and Matilda, both of whom share her beauty, curiosity, and intelligence, of how proud I am of her, and her blossoming into a loving, caring mother, as well as the best daughter anyone could ever hope for. When I see little Tilda, I see Amy at 2…running and laughing, smiling that smile that can melt steel and hearts, and a laugh so infectious as to be a plague of joy, and I am reminded of how beautiful life can be, and how blessed we are with the opportunities to have these moments that stay with us as long as we live.
Those two babies reflect everything wonderful about their mother, and Amy’s mother as well. Of all the opportunities afforded those with Amy’s beauty, and talent, and humanity, she chose motherhood, family, and friends, and providing a good life for her children over all else. She set a course, stayed on it, and has always, without fail, taken the high road. I have yet to meet another person with her scruples, her values, her bravery, and her strength. She has risen above every obstacle, met every challenge, and merits the tremendous amount of respect and love she receives from each and every one of her family and friends.
She is simply the greatest gift I have ever been blessed with…and she keeps on giving.
Tilda and Marshall are two more examples of my daughter’s continuing determination to create magic and enrich the lives of those who love her…
…and I remain, and will always be, her biggest fan.
Today is my baby’s birthday, and she just keeps making me proud and thankful, and wish that everyone could be blessed with a daughter like this and a pair of children who Light up every room the enter. She deserves every happiness this life allows.
Amy and her Mom
Amy and her son
Amy and her daughter
Amy and The Kiddles
Amy and Lemmy
Love you, Ames.
…and you know I mean this traditional wish for you….
Hippo Birdies, Two Ewes, Ames…and many many many more.
(Editor’s Note: Most of this column originally ran in 2013. It has been updated and new pictures added a few times since then.)
Happy Birthday, Baby.
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Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.