I just googled This Date in History for Dec. 14, 1957.
The site dayoftheweek.org tells me it was a Saturday.
A slow day, according to historyorb.com.
A play titled “Most Happy Fella” closed after 678 performances at New York City’s Imperial Theater. “Rumple” closed at the Alvin Theater after 45 performances. An American author by the name of Gary Ferris was born.
And, in a New York City hospital, a thin and quite-likely scared teenager pushed me out into this world.
I don’t remember much, not even from family remembrances on subsequent Dec. 14s.
I can piece together facts and snippets of things they did tell me: My mother was 19. My father was 20. I came a few weeks early. They had married 14 months prior. They met while working for the same company in Manhattan. Both their families lived in Greenpoint, a Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn. My dad was an only child. My mom had an older sister, but she and my uncle had no children yet.
I can imagine how bewildered and overwhelmed they all were at the arrival of this first child of their immediate families, no matter that marriages and kids more routinely came earlier 56 years ago.
They did their best within their world. I remember my dad taking me to corner bars and giving me a bag of peanuts and a real glass of Coke to keep me occupied as he socialized like a twentysomething. I remember my mom taking me with her to bingo, which somehow was a favorite even at her young age. It never once struck me that perhaps a kid my age shouldn’t be taken along to either of those places.
I was an only child until a sister came along when I was 8, and another when I was 10. I loved not being the sole focus anymore. I protected these darling little girls fiercely.
Of course I remember good times, celebrations, family victories.
But I also remember arguments, fights, bad behavior, frequent tension. Looking back through the prism of all these years, I think that somehow I was always on edge in the presence of one or both of my parents.
After I graduated high school, I went away to college and never lived at home for more than a summer’s vacation afterward.
My parents got divorced while I was in college. About time, I remember thinking immediately.
They went on doing what adults do, remarrying, taking on new spouses and other people’s children.
I went on doing what college graduates do, building a career, marrying, having a child of my own.
I experienced great joy. I felt major loss. I achieved major accomplishments. I battled personal failings.
You know, life. Highs, lows, ups, downs, in-betweens. Through it all, I’ve tried to remain positive and optimistic.
I accepted my parents for who they were. I knew they loved me. We got along when we were all adults.
They both passed away a decade ago, heart attacks, six months apart, my mom at 65 and my dad at 66.
That’s a lot of birthdays without them already. I am happily remarried, and I’ve watched my daughter grow into a smart and beautiful young woman. I’m pretty good, all considered, on this 56th birthday, mom and dad.
But I wish that I had been more curious about my real birth day. I wish I had asked you both to fill me in about what you were thinking after I arrived on Dec. 14, 1957.
Our beloved Aunt Marian and Uncle Chet are gone now, too. My generation is it. There’s nobody who was there to question anymore.
So it’s left for me to imagine, to picture you two kids, staring at your newborn boy, wondering to yourselves, what will our life bring now?
Did you ever ask your parents about the day that you were born? What did you find out? Any surprises?