On this day 72 years ago, a baby girl was born to Joe and Mary Randazzo in New York City. The couple named their little girl Joan and they were happy because now they had a boy and a girl to complete their family. Joan grew up with her parents, her brother Robert, and her grandmother 'Mema' in Harlem, but eventually moved to the Bronx, which was then "the country" and where she spent the remainder of her childhood years and the early part of her marriage before moving to Long Island.
Growing up, and throughout her life, mom was daddy's little girl, as well as the apple of both Mema and dear old Aunt Vi's eyes. She learned to love sports through grandpa, how to love unconditionally through her grandma, and how to dress well through Aunt Vi. Yes, mom is an avid Yankees, Rangers, Knicks and Jets fan and she's the one who passed on that devotion to the rest of us. I'll get to the unconditional love part below, but I'll also say here that mom has always had a great fashion sense, something which I'm grateful she passed on to me. With all of that attention from those three, my mom and her mom were never really that close, though like any mother, my Nana loved my mom very much.
Mom graduated from Cathedral High School somewhere in the late 50's. Cathedral was an all-girls Catholic school and I think maybe that's why, from the stories I've heard, as a teenager mom probably gave my grandparents some stresses along the way with the boys. Back then, Joan was thin and beautiful and I'm sure she got a lot of attention from the guys. Eventually, though, she met, dated and then married the man who would become my dad, George Myers.
Mom and dad lived an up and down marriage for almost 50 years. Like most relationships, things started out really good at the beginning and then waned as their family grew, but eventually they grew into the sort of familial companionship that so many evolve into over the years. You see, my dad was a high school dropout and worked as an unskilled laborer in a warehouse in the Bronx. The job didn't pay too well, I'm sure, and the financial stresses of raising six kids on his salary often made dad grumpy. To make matters worse, he'd been an only child growing up and so he didn't know too much being a father other than bringing home the bread. This left mom in the role of being both parents.
During their marriage, mom and dad produced six children: me, my brother Dave and my four sisters Linda, Ann Marie, Gina and Christine. Each of us has given mom our fair share of grief and worry over the years, but her unconditional love and caring for us all sowed the seeds of love and admiration we all feel for her in our own ways, whether she knows it or not. Today her two grandchildren, Nick and Jake, are the newest recipients of grandma's love.
Overall, mom hasn't had an easy life. She's survived the loss of her first-born, Kenneth, the struggles of affording to live a financially comfortable life within an oftentimes unhappy marriage, acting as the sole parent and intermediator between dad and us, and she lived for years with a very sick husband. Through it all, though, her friendly, outgoing, humorous and kind soul earned her a lot of friendships that she's cherished and enjoyed throughout.
More than five years ago, mom lost her husband, my dad, and his absence within the family unit has left a wound within all of us that's been difficult to overcome. I can never imagine what she's been going through these past five-plus years, as not only dad left this world, but too her father two years prior and Aunt Vi just two months after. Losing those three very important people in her life in such a short period of time has to have been difficult, for all of a sudden mom had to depend primarily herself for survival for the first time in her life. She still works, at 72, but I think that's part of what keeps her young.
Mom doesn't always realize how her children feel about her. No, ours isn't a perfect family, it never has been, but we all know deep within our hearts that mom has always done the best she could in her marriage and as a mother to us. Throughout our lives, mom has given us so much, laughter and tears, joy and sorrow, and love...lots of love. So, this song is dedicated to you mom, Happy Birthday and may you enjoy many, many more to come...
Happy Birthday Mom!