Expressway: A mother who lifted us up!

Lila Martin Smith, mother of Dana Lynn Zotter Lila Martin Smith, mother of Dana Lynn Zotter of Holbrook, turns 90 on May 20. Photo Credit: Dana Lynn Zotter

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My mother has lifted me up through life -- to see heroes, stars, history and the world.

On March 1, 1962, my mother, Lila Martin Smith, took me and the rest of the family to Manhattan for a ticker-tape parade.

Traveling from Baldwin to Brooklyn to Staten Island and finally to Manhattan by ferry, we joined throngs on the streets of New York City to give a hero's welcome to our astronaut, John Glenn!

We were a nation on the cusp of a new frontier, space. The men and women who were the visionaries of this frontier had endured the Great Depression and a world war. They had done without, and learned to live with rationing and loss. They built and rebuilt this nation. They were ready to lift their children onto their shoulders and say, "See! See our future!"

I was one of those children. I was allowed to skip school to celebrate the first man to orbit the Earth. Never did I feel as awed by the majesty of Manhattan as on that day.

A few years later, in 1965, my mom and I waited at the crest of the hill at Brookside Elementary School in Baldwin in the wee hours of a dawning day to see the Ikeya Seki comet, whose tail swept across the dawning sky.

We waited with bated breath for the comet's tail to light up our sky, but a fog rolled in on puffy lavender clouds and obscured our view. Nevertheless, I will never forget waiting, my mother and me, wrapped in blankets at the crest of the hill, to be amazed by our universe.

My mother taught her children -- Susan, Leslie, Gary and me -- everything she loved, from learning Broadway musical scores to quietly watching a sunset at Point Lookout.

She taught me how to walk, and how to dance.

She taught me how to dive into a wave at Jones Beach and held me as the swell lifted us.

She taught me how to float and how to look across the vast ocean at the curvature of the planet, knowing there will always be a dawn.

"Lift me up!" I said. "And let me see!"

And my mother lifted me on the shoulders of her love, she the visionary of bright futures, and I the child.

And on this Mother's Day, and her 90th birthday on May 20, I thank her -- and can only hope I have done the same for my children.

Reader Dana Lynn Zotter lives in Holbrook.

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