In one of my recent columns, I wrote about the pleasures of sharing my birthday with family and friends. Though that will remain a cherished memory, I had the honor and pleasure of attending another recent birthday – one that will no doubt shine above others for years to come.
My beautiful mother, who I’m blessed to still have in my life, turned 100 years old.
Elizabeth Zimmerman was – and still is – a very smart lady. By now, I thought that I had heard every possible story from her, but it seems that every day we spend together I receive a new history lesson.
Lately, I’ve been hearing tales about my family that date back to 1939. Just when I thought I knew everything there was to know about my family’s history, my mother comes up with a new gem.
I’m learning family secrets that she’s never told me or anyone else before. Of course, to my mother’s credit, they’re all about people who no longer call planet Earth home. They’re all pushing up daises somewhere in this country and in Europe.
One major bit of useful information I recently learned is who I’m named after. After over 70 years, my mother was finally able to talk to me about it.
It seems that I’m named after a cousin who was shot between the eyes during the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France. I could tell how hard it was for my mother to talk about this, as she was very close to her cousin. Tears were rolling down her eyes as she told me the story.
Of course, seeing my mother cry brought tears to my own eyes. My cousin was only 19 years old when he was killed.
But now I know who I’m named after and it’s no longer a mystery to me. I’m also now more proud of my name than ever before.
My mother also told me a story about something she did when I was a rookie police officer working at the 60th Precinct in Coney Island.
This story only took her 48 years to tell me.
It seems that my mom made a phone call to a desk officer at the 60th Precinct one night. I was a new cop at the time, working my first week from the 4 p.m. to midnight shift. When the week ended, the entire shift went out to get a bite to eat and to party.
At about 3 a.m., my mother called the desk officer wanting to know if I was okay and why I wasn’t home yet. (Yes, I was still living at home with my parents at that time.)
To the desk officer’s credit, he never told me about the phone call.
I now wonder how many times did she try to call my commanding officer while I was in Vietnam. We’ll see how long it takes for me to hear that story.
In honor of my mother’s birthday, we had two parties back to back. Some family members couldn’t make it on her actual birthday, so I figured that we’d have two celebrations, one on her birthday and one the following day.
And boy, did we have a party. The first thing my mother did at her birthday party was fall asleep for about an hour. She said she was tired.
When she finally woke up, she talked without taking a break for the next three hours. She was having the time of her life, surrounded by her kids, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends.
I thought the party would never end. But it did, because we had to do a repeat performance the next day.
And repeat it we did, with many more people present. Too bad every day in our lives can’t be the way these two days were.
Happy birthday, Mommy. I hope we can do this again 100 years from now.