On a normal day in 2004, Lloyd Zimmerman got the chance to fulfill a man's dying wish. Giancarlo Esposito ("Better Call Saul") reads his piece, about the complications of a last request.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Modern love. The podcast is supported by produced by the island, W B war, Boston. The from the New York Times and W B, were Boston. This is modern. The stories of love loss and redemption. I'm your host magnetron puberty, the when Lloyd Zimmerman, got a call at work in two thousand and four. He didn't realize. Would stay with him for the next fourteen years? He writes about it in his peace, making a judgment on love, it's red by John Carlo Esposito. He plays Gus Fring on better
call Saul reprising the role he played in breaking bad. He also stars in dear white people, the call came in around three hundred and thirty p dot m on a sultry Minnesota day. The hospice social worker Cheryl explain the situation in a rush. She had tried fifteen judges and all were either in cord or otherwise unavailable. By chance she did reach me directly. I had just finished.
trial and was in my chambers, surrounded by judicial detritus legal briefs scores of exhibits. This was the sanctuary where I went to nurse my wounds after a day of inhaling other people's problems, name calling failed relationships, poor judgements made by people, sometimes young, sometimes old, usually emotional. To be honest, I almost didn't answer the phone. The protracted and petty legal combat I had just suffered through was a case that should have been settled. for bad blood in the family relationship. I'd survived presiding over a trial. That was neither great nor good. It was done, but it was not my proudest moment as a judge
My day of emergencies had followed weeks of emergencies that had not been broken up by a vacation. I felt like putting one of those bumper stickers on my door that read your poor planning is not my emergency. All I wanted was a drink That, however, would be considered poor decorum for a judge and judges lose their jobs over poor decorum. I have a wife and two children, so I try to shake off my grumpiness and be civil to Cheryl. I asked in my calmest most Oliver Wendell Holmes voice what I could do for her. She said she needed a judge to perform an emergency wedding, believe it or not. This was not my first such
Quest of the week. In fact, I often receive these requests usually involving the need to get a waiver to avoid the required five day waiting period. Sometimes I am sympathetic as when the request is spurred by a sudden deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, but generally I dont like to reward those who leave matters like the arrangement of a wedding until the day they want it to happen. My son coal, proposed on Valentine's day,
this year for a wedding. Eighteen months later in August, two thousand and twelve, I was tired of a seemingly endless series of calls from people with ridiculous impulsive requests. I leaned back in my desk chair and as I do when I'm tired, I pulled on my right ear, lobe and scratching my head, the right for front where my hairline is beginning to retreat. I have listened if I wondered what to do about the post trial motions for the case. I just heard an detective waiting outside my chambers for me to sign a search warrant and the sheaf of emergency orders on my desk and unrelated cases that typically accumulate during a lengthy trial, but Cheryl bagged. She practically yanked my bleeding heart right out of my.
She explained that she was a hospice social worker for Thomas seventy seven, who had recently been discharged from the medical center hospice unit, so he could die at home. He was conscious and lucid, but likely to die at any moment. He could no longer talk and communicated entirely from hand squeezes. His dying wish was to marry Donna his life partner of thirty eight years. She was fifty seven. They had talked about marriage over the years, but never had gotten around to a wedding made even gone so far as to fill out the application from the downtown wedding licence centre. Was this yet another case of people irresponsibly, leaving things to the last minute, probably but I realize in the moment he didn't matter- people do stupid human things. I could make this one right,
by law the couple was required to attest in person under oath. front of the wedding licence official that all of the statements on the application were true, that they want to marry each other and that is required by many. What law we are no nearer of kin than the first cousins once removed? That there is no legal impediment to this marriage that neither of us as a spouse living and that one of the applicants is a man and the other is a woman. The wedding licence bureau had told Cheryl that no one there had the power to issue an emergency licence by phone, but made She could try to reach a judge. There were formalities, the five day waiting period and an appearance in person. At the wedding license bureau, there was no official procedure for an emergency deathbed wedding license
When someone goes to the trouble of trying to contact sixteen judges, there's usually an important issue at stake, but I was a sorry excuse for a judge that day and I was in no shape to do anyone a good deed, even if I could figure out a way to do something that no one else wanted to do. something that violated every established process and had to represent some kind of poor planning by the couple The reward I thought in the back of my mind, was I would be sued by some disgruntled air who had been disinherited by the unorthodox wedding or critic, by the license bureau for not doing it exactly as specified or publicly flogged by the court of appeals. If my actions turn to be illegal, also My courthouse in downtown Minneapolis was at least twenty miles from their home, a trip to takes thirty minutes under the best circumstances, and in this case
the evening rush was already underway. Thomas was near death. The only option seemed to be a telephone wedding, yet that would violate the rule requiring the wedding to occur in the presence of a judge, my brain said no No, my court clerk stood outside my door at the head of a growing line that included a detective with the search warrant and the lawyers from the last case still unwilling to go home. My clerk, whose job it is to protect me from others and myself mouthed go home.
But as if by road, I said yes, yes, I will see if we can make it work. You see my father had died of liver cancer a few years earlier. I'd visit him in Chicago while he was sick, putting a mad under his hospice sped unsleeping next to him holding his hands. So I could be there in his dying moments. Everyone thought he had hours to live. Then he rebounded and I flew home to Minneapolis and returned to work. To my eternal regret, I was not there a week later when he died. It was because of my poor planning that he died alone. Thinking of my father, I made a few legal inquiries, verifying the Thomas and Donna had completed a wedding licence or Tippit that the family supported the wedding and it was not a ruse today.
third and inheritance and that the humanitarian nature of the wedding was real and true. You would have to be done by phone and it would have to be fast the moment. The Donna heard the news Cheryl told me later. He rushed to put on a wedding dress that she had been saving for years. Witnessed on their end by a hospice chaplain and the bride, the bridegroom's family, who encircled Thomas's bed, the couple were placed under oath in the place of a wedding, license, registrar ice,
for them to the truth of all of the statements on their licence application dinosaur to the truth and sign the application Thomas or to the truth. By squeezing the hospice workers finger yes and signed an x, I performed the ceremony holding phone sitting at my mess of a desk as the detective waited impatiently for his search warrant just outside mind. Or do you Thomas take Donna to be your lawful wedded, wife? The chaplain said he squeezed her finger.
Yes, do you Donna, take Thomas to be your lawful wedded husband? Yes, do you promise to love and care for each other in good times and bad in sickness and in health for better or worse for as long as you both shall live? Yes,. With the families looking on, I pronounced Thomas and Donna, husband and wife. invoking the power vested in me by the laws of Minnesota, I told them that after thirty eight years together, they could now kiss each other for the first time as a married couple. I was told they did and later that evening Thomas died.
Shortly thereafter. I you should my court order complete with procedural history and legal announced this directing the licensing bureau to accept and fight the wedding license and issue a certificate of marriage. I have written thousands of orders in my many years as a judge, This was my best, the John Carlo Esposito
reading Lloyd, Zimmermann's essay, making a judgment on love, Drunk Carlos says that he connected with this peace. Because of what Lloyd wrote about missing his father's death, I had the same experience he did. I went to Florida when my father was dying walked into a hospital. I flew all day to get there from how many, whatever countries I was coming from and I walked in. There was no nurse on duty. There was no doctor there and I walked into his room and, just after I stepped in the door, he flatlined. and a moment later a man came in, and a blue shirt didn't even look like a doctor took a pan out of his pocket, stuck it in between his ribs and made a whole said. Put your finger here as long as collapsed. I put my finger there. He took a Pompey pumped his lungs up. I stay with my father for about four or five days hold in his hand talking to him and he got better and I got on a plane,
and I went home for the weekend to talk to my family, about how we, what to do with him when he got better and where we would put him he died before I got back So we sort of pass on our stories and we share them with each other to give each other strengthen, allow Troublesome, released release from the pain that we've held from things that didn't happen that we wanted to happen, but it's all ok, because you know this is this: is life thanks to John Colonel Esposito, reading reading this week's piece he stars in sees better call Saul and he's also in the Netflix show. Dear white people will catch up with Lloyd Zimmerman after the break.
I love spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individual and not cheating. Sometimes, when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own- I feel a little betrayed they may have happened again. Are you? I have one for and who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something Me and my dad we liked the first together and I wish her out. I it J C K, P, o Jack jackpot panic, yeah, nice
I'm same as earth's sky, the digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at N Y Times dot com, slash games, it wasn't until years after Thomas and Donna's, adding that Lloyd, Zimmermann decided to write about it, but he says that the experience stayed with him. It was one of the most. marketable things that happen in my life it took maybe twenty minutes seven years earlier. I always wondered: who is Thomas? Who has done what was the story of their life after his peace came out? He got chance to find out a reporter at the many apple, a star Tribune, Red Lloyd's, modern love, peace and tracked down down. Then the reporter arranged for Lloyd to meet her. It was short meeting in her living room feeling very nervous about how I should prepare for it, so I went out and I got a dozen pink roses- she had a hug for me. I had a hug for her
and the flowers made it all better. And it was clear when I met with her that this was just a wonderful thing, that it happened in her life and she was very happy for it. And all of my my concerns and misgivings about whether I had done something to public for someone to private those is a turned out we're all all for not. I didn't really need to worry about that. I felt really wonderful that I was actually getting to meet somebody. about all these years we reached out to dinner. She didn't want to be interviewed for the pine cast, but she did tell us that she remains deeply grateful to Lloyd, for granting Thomas's dying, wish and Lloyd. Says that something that resonated with readers to people thought I think that it was a good thing if you show that judges are human and their capable
taking time from their murder trials and their divorce trials and their civil disputes to do something that really makes life better. For somebody who really doesn't have access to justice, they hadn't done anything right, and here was the system. somehow making it work. There's one thing in the wide story: that's out of date now the requirement
in Minnesota law that marriage could only be between a man and a woman after his piece came out. Lloyd got a voicemail from a woman in a same sex relationship who pointed out that she and her partner weren't able to have a wedding like the one he'd performed for Thomas and Donna Lloyd, decided to meet the couple in person by met with them for like two hours at this coffee shop. Never having met them before, and then I decided to write another story, and it was really how I felt about this relationship and whether all couples, regardless of their gender, should be able to have their love. Psalm nice by the laws at the state and one of the This is of the Minnesota Supreme Court came up to me one day, and he said you know I like that story, even more than the one that you wrote for the times, so I was kind of ANA on a role there, and that was the end of my publishing career. If anybody read the story
or should listen to, the reading of it again and they're touched their touch. in a way that they think I I can do something Kind to in my own way, then I will feel that first of all, my life was worth living and, second of all that the story was worth writing. That's Lloyd, Zimmermann, he's return Now and lives in Minneapolis, with his wife Becky, he has to choose in two grandchildren whom he calls his reason for living. We got more after break. I love spelling bee my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individual.
and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed. They may have happened again. I have one and who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words. Then I was getting nervous. I sent it to my parents or something me and my dad. We likes this funny together and I wish Heather out it J C K p o Jack jackpot panic yeah nice. I'm same as their escape. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try, spelling bee and all our games at annoying times dot com. Flash games. Daniel Jones. Editor of the modern love column for the New York Times saw my favorite essays
ones that come in just out of the blue from people you least expect from people who do not call themselves full time, writers or even part time writers, their people who, who have devoted their lives. other things, and yet they come up with these stories that are- moving and well written and right on the nose in terms of what works well for modern love, the next week, Olivia Munn, if I've learned anything during the approximately twenty seven times, I've watched when Harry met Sally is that you need to ignore your best friend for month and in that time he will realize he's in love with you and will come charging.
Back into your life at the first available opportunity, so I ignored Kevin And called patiently waiting for him to realize we really were supposed to be together The modern love is the production of the New York Times and W B you are Boston, NPR station, its produced, directed and edited by Jessica, Albert Cute, little Keith and John broad sound designed by Paul Vikas. The idea for the modern love podcast was conceived by these atonement I was Adler's our executive producer Daniel Jones, is the it or of modern love for the New York Times, an adviser to the shop music for the purchase of courtesy and Pierre. I make no upper body from the next week
Transcript generated on 2022-04-16.