I suspect Sophie will understand though. At both of the previous events there was a running joke all morning of Sophie looking up at me and giving me the most exaggerated sad-eyed pouty-mouthed look imaginable in an attempt to guilt me into changing my plans. I told her that if I were her father I'd put up a web site called "Sophie's Emotions" with iconified links to "Happy" and "Sad" and "Peeved" and "Distraught" and so forth, with many pictures of Sophie on each page demonstrating these emotions. It would be like a 19th century elocution textbook.
I told Sophie I'd have to make it up to her, so the tentative plans are that the next time I pay a real visit to NYC I'll take her and her family to Benihana's (a favorite of hers) and we will have to spend the whole meal paying attention to her and not drifting off into adult discussion.
In the meantime, though, I finally and belatedly got around to writing her a bat mitzvah letter. Since I posted the last one of these letters on this journal, I'm posting this one as well, on the online theory that no small personal matter is not proper fodder for public display.
December 7, 2006
I not only have to apologize for having missed your bat mitzvah, but I also have to apologize for being so horribly late in sending you congratulations. You may not have heard from me, but I was thinking about you on the day of your bat mitzvah, and wishing you mazel tov from way out here in Minnesota. You do have my best wishes. You always have had my best wishes.
Here is why you have always had my best wishes:
I have known your father since 1976. That's thirty years ago. That's so long ago that you read about it in history books. That's so long ago that my beard wasn't grey. That's so long ago that televisions had no remote controls. That's so long ago that dinosaurs walked the earth and the glaciers hadn't yet retreated from the northern plains. That's so long ago that there isn't even any food in my refrigerator that old, which means it's really really a long time ago. Hmmm...maybe it's time to throw away those carrots.
But never mind about my refrigerator. I was remembering the Jurassic era when your father and I were younger and your grandparents hadn't yet bought a house on Block Island. But then they did buy a house, and your father may not remember this but I think I was his first guest there, in the summer of 1978. Should I say again that this was a long time ago, or have I bored you yet?
So I've known your father for – come on, say it with me – a long time. And I've had great fondness and respect for him for all that time. I still do.
And then, also a long time ago, your father introduced his old friends to your mother who of course wasn't yet your mother and in fact she wasn't yet even your father's wife. But she later became your father's wife, at a wonderful ceremony followed by a joyous party at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and I was there. From the minute I met your mother I thought she was wonderful. I still do. Just as I do for your father, I have great fondness and great respect for your mother.
So that's a long time and a lot of good feelings. I am always very very happy when I have the chance to see your father and your mother.
And then your sister was born. And then you. And this was great as well, and brought more joy to all your family and your parents' friends. I don't see you much, I know, but that doesn't mean I haven't known you for as long as time has had any meaning to you. I think about the time you were only about 6 years old and invited me to come visit your family on Block Island. And I did. More happy days. More happy time.
That's a lot of years. That's a lot of joy. That's a lot of emotion that builds up and makes me very happy to know that it's time for your bat mitzvah. When I think about you, and this event (now a month past – ooops), all of those years and all of those good feelings and all of that time all comes together for me. It fills me to bursting.
And that is why you have, and have always had, my best wishes.
Enclosed is a token gift, a wish for good luck. It's the traditional 18 for luck, times 2. I hope it brings you a long and fun life. I hope it brings you back some of the good feelings you have brought to me.
A bit of sentiment on a cold December day.