You don’t have to be a diehard Jimmy Fallon fan or even an avid viewer of The Tonight Show to know that his mom Gloria was pretty special to him. The late-night host and father of two frequently gushed about his mom in interviews and she often swung by tapings of the show, where she’d smile adoringly from the audience and laugh a little harder than everyone else at each joke her son cracked.
But earlier this month, Gloria was hospitalized due to an undisclosed illness, and just days later, on November 4, she passed away.
“Today I lost my biggest fan,” Jimmy tweeted later that day, as a flood of supportive messages from fans rolled in.
Though he took a week-long break from taping The Tonight Show, Jimmy returned last night and spoke on air for the first time since his mom’s death. And the story he told didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.
“When we were little, my mom would walk us to the store, me and my sister,” he began, “and we would hold hands, you know, and she would squeeze my hand three times to say ‘I love you’. And I would squeeze back, ‘I love you, too.’ And last week I was in the hospital, and I grabbed her hand. I squeezed, ‘I love you’ … and I just knew we were in trouble, you know?”
At the end of his tribute, Jimmy goes on to thank his fans for all their support, promise to continue to make them laugh every night, and with a look up to the sky and three squeezes of his fist, says, “Mom, I’ll never stop trying to make you laugh.”
That one-minute of television alone is enough to hit you right in the heart. But it’s what happened next that will truly leave you in a puddle of tears.
Later that night, Tonight Show producer Mike DiCenzo took to Twitter to share an unexpected, yet touching story about what followed. Apparently, no one at the show knew Jimmy would be sharing the story about his mom. They also didn’t know Taylor Swift would be performing her new song, “New Year’s Day” off her latest album Reputation, since her appearance was a last-minute booking.
So when Swift took to the stage for her performance, those who listened closely to the lyrics were stunned as she sang, “You squeeze my hands three times in the back of the taxi.”
“I could see Jimmy silhouetted at his desk dabbing his eyes with a tissue,” DiCenzo later tweeted. “We all lost it. It was a beautiful coincidence in a beautiful performance.”
I don’t care what you’re doing right now — call your mom. Even if she’s no longer with you; tell her you love her, however you can. And if you live close enough, go over and give her a great big hug.