I don't recall exactly how old I was when I first noticed the numbers tattooed on the wrist of the mild man who ran the grocery store in the Irvington neighborhood where I grew up. Once, after leaving the store together, I do recall my mother scolding me for asking Herman about those numbers.
I also don't recall many of the specifics from the conversation with my mother that followed, but I do recall this: She didn't ignore my follow up questions or deny what I'd seen. Then she told me a little about the camps.
More than sixty years have passed; Mom has been gone for almost forty one. This morning, right in the middle of an intense conversation about history and fake news, I flashed to that day and realized my Mom telling me that truth all those years ago was one of her most important early gifts.
Thanks Mom, again.