The Presence Of Lost Relatives at My Daughter’s Bat Mitzvah

When you have a daughter, there are a lot of things “they” don’t tell you. I mean – I’ve been warned about the teenage years, puberty, emotional rollercoasters, and boys of course. But I haven’t quite been warned about what happens to me – the dad – when the rest of that is going on around me. And then the bat mitzvah comes and wow, was I unprepared. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster – I’m proud, but sad she’s growing up so fast. I’m happy that she has a lot of really great friends, but I’m sad that she doesn’t really want to hang out with me anymore. I’m thrilled that she has become an independent thinker and a highly capable 13-year-old but I’m sad that she doesn’t really need her dad in the ways she used to.

The occasion of my daughter’s bat mitzvah was my first major life event without my dad. He died in December, but we knew he wouldn’t have made it out to Minnesota even if he had made it through these last few months. My dad’s favorite thing in the world was being with his grandkids and for a couple of days, he would have been on cloud nine.

Not only was it the first major life event without him, it also was the first one that my mom had to fly solo. For over 50 years, she had a traveling companion and someone to dance with at parties. So it was a bittersweet experience for me to welcome my mom but to do so without my dad. I made sure my mom stayed in a hotel close to my house and I was her personal Uber driver for the weekend. We’re not a family that generally talks about the uncomfortable, but I knew it would be an adjustment for my mom to travel alone.

She checked into the hotel and I helped her to her room on the 4th floor. Each room had a placard outside with the room number and a small random stock photo. I saw hot air balloons and puppies, and a beach scene. Then we approached room 419 and I saw the photo there. It stopped me in my tracks. Of all the things, it was a WWII-era plane – my dad’s thing, one of his passions.

A box of Andes mints was in the room of the author's mom, which were the favorite of the author's grandmother.

A box of Andes mints was in the room of the author’s mom, which were the favorite of the author’s grandmother.

Now, a few years back I worked on a couple of shows in the paranormal realm. It turned out to be my least favorite working experience simply for the fact that I’m not a believer. It’s really hard to be passionate about work that you don’t believe in, or frankly, understand. And until April 12, 2024, there has only been one other time in my life that I believed in some sort of higher power. It was of course the time I saw Sandy Koufax in a Banana Republic outlet store and then woke up with a mysterious torn LEFT rotator cuff. I’ve written about and reposted this piece many times.

So room 419. Not a coincidence and no one can convince me otherwise. My dad was there, waiting for my mom to arrive – and making sure she would sleep well. He was there to make her know that she was not alone and that he’s kinda everywhere now. He was there to remind me that he would never miss his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah.

But wait, there’s more. We walked into the room and on the bedside table were two chocolates – a nice touch! They weren’t just any chocolates; they were Andes – the green-foil-wrapped mint chocolates. Of all the chocolates in the world, these were my grandma’s favorite. She always had some on hand. I think she thought they were pretty fancy. So the universe was at it again – telling us all that my grandma was there too and that she wouldn’t miss such an event. My mom thought she was going to be all alone, but alas, her husband of 52 years and her mother were right there keeping her company.

My emotions ran high that weekend, but I was at peace knowing that my dad and Grandma were out there somewhere keeping an eye on us and making sure they didn’t miss the party.