Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
April 1, 2018
I grew up in a very industrial, relatively high crime section of Long Island City/Astoria. My Mom, Dad, older sister, and I lived on the fourth floor of a five-floor walk-up with other family members also in the building and on the same block. This included my mother’s father one flight down from us. My Irish grandpa never really recovered from a broken hip and relied heavily on my Mom to handle the bulk of his chores, errands, etc.
When my immediate family decided to move to a “better” area of the neighborhood -- partly to get me away from the crowd I was running with -- my Mom committed to returning to the old building every single weekday to help her father with shopping, cooking, cleaning, medical appointments, and more.
To the best of my knowledge, I didn’t take this selflessness for granted. Later, when I had moved out, my Mom noticed my housekeeping/care-taking habits and remarked: “I never realized you were watching and paying such close attention.” I like to think that later in her life, she came to fully comprehend how much I appreciated her and tried to model myself after her.
But yeah, it was a non-negotiable part of my everyday teenage life that after doing morning chores and errands, Mom would take the bus to our old building around noon and be back around 4 p.m. to make dinner for us. This selfless routine went on for years and years -- and I haven’t even mentioned her feeding every stray animal within a five-block radius.
One day, I was hanging out with friends on my block as my Dad got home from work. He came right back out within minutes, looking both angry and scared. He promptly informed me that Mom had her chain snatched while getting on the bus to come home. (Chain snatching was quite a common crime around that time.)
Context: My Dad was a Special Agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. But he never really talked about it. Michael A. Zezima, Sr. saw enough and lived enough for several lives but he rarely talked about his work and who he was on the job. This was a man who (among many other things) performed his undercover duties so well that a mobster once asked him to be godfather to his child, a man who rode shotgun on 747s and was prepared to take a bullet as part of Ronald Reagan’s Secret Service. A man who witnessed the Nazis occupying his town in Italy and later saw battle in Korea. He had his sunglasses smashed by Hubert Humphrey and stepped on John Gotti’s expensive shoes. He turned down million-dollar bribes and stared down the barrel of a gun that miraculously jammed. My Dad has dealt with rogue CIA agents, was cross-examined by F. Lee Bailey, and hunted for the Son of Sam. But at home --besides the presence of a .357 Magnum and government badge -- he was just “Dad.”
Anyway, that day, he firmly told me to get into the car and off we went. I got an up-close glimpse into my Dad’s rarely seen work persona as we embarked on a trip that would normally be a 15-minute drive.
It was legend in the Zezima family that my father drove slowly and seemingly had little sense of direction. That afternoon, however, I was treated to another side of his auto-handling skills. We raced through red lights, in and out of traffic, and even made one quick foray onto the sidewalk. We reached the crime scene in under three minutes; I was too impressed to be afraid.
As we screeched up to the crime scene, I could see the relief on my mother’s face when she saw my Dad. She had a scratch on her neck and was pretty shaken up but seemed able to exhale once my father got out of the car, hugged her, and then began asking questions of the cops who had arrived by then.
Throughout their lives, my parents taught me to listen for -- and to hear -- what’s not being spoken. To seek the lessons found in the actions of others. They taught me more than I can name but from the stories highlighted above, I gleaned this:
Ann Zezima: 1936 - 2008
Mike Zezima: 1932 - 2012
Mickey Z. is the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!
That time my mother got her chain snatched and my father drove on the sidewalk by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://worldnewstrust.com/that-time-my-mother-got-her-chain-snatched-and-my-father-drove-on-the-sidewalk-mickey-z.