Leib recalls finding and buying the rocking chair for Suri, and how much she had appreciated it. He finds it difficult to reconcile the young man he was with the man he is now.
* * *
Events swirled around the three remaining Barkoff ladies liked dried leaves in the wind. Mrs. Barkoff and Rena were busy organizing details about the Jerusalem property, arranging for necessary repairs and considering renovations. Suri continued to see Yedidye, and it was clear that the matter was heading in a good direction, fast.
“I don’t understand how you are planning to manage this,” Mrs. Barkoff said to Suri one evening. “You realize it’s going to be a logistical nightmare, don’t you?”
“I’ve given it some thought,” said Suri. “And yes, it will be complicated, but not impossible.”
“You’re going to get engaged to Yedidye before he meets the children, are you?” asked Mrs. Barkoff, not bothering to hide her annoyance.
“No. He’ll meet them. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do it. I’d love to bring them here, but they wouldn’t be themselves. They’d be tired and jetlagged and disoriented…”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to use the boys to impress Yedidye,” said Rena, joining the conversation. “That’s really low, Suri.”
Gritting her teeth, Suri ignored the comment. “So, it makes the most sense for Yedidye to travel to Boston. He’ll probably come within a month, and if everything works out, we’ll get engaged in Boston.”
“And then?” Mrs. Barkoff prompted.
“And then, we’ll move back here.” Suri waited for the explosion, but it didn’t come the way she thought it would. It was more of an implosion.
Deep silence pervaded the room, so deep that Suri wanted to hold her ears against it. Mrs. Barkoff and Rena wore identical expressions of shock and disbelief, and Mrs. Barkoff actually sputtered before she could get out any coherent answer.
“Suri,” she whispered. “You cannot do that. You cannot uproot the boys after all they’ve been through.”
Suri remained silent. She’d considered every angle over and over again. Discreetly, she’d sought advice from a gadol in Yerushalayim. It was clear to her that building a sturdy new family for the boys was better than allowing them to stumble along. They were young enough that they would be able to adjust, and even though they were having fun with their real father now, she was certain it wouldn’t last. Leib would disappear back into the woodwork.
Suri had thought it was the end of the world when he signed away his custodial rights to his children, but now she realized he had done her a favor. There was nothing at all stopping her from moving forward in her life, and she was going to take the boys with her.
“It seems to you like I can’t do it, Ma,” said Suri carefully. “And I’m not denying that it’s going to be difficult. But that is my plan. With Hashem’s help, it is going to happen. So you can either help me or hurt me. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but if it had been you instead of me spending these hours speaking with Yedidye, you would do the same. Nothing is certain, but I’m going to take my chances.”
“You can take as many chances as you want!” said Mrs. Barkoff. “But not with those boys!”
“Excuse me,” said Rena, standing, her hands firmly planted on her hips. “Are we speaking about the same man? The man I sat with was boring and colorless. He had little to say, and if it weren’t for Mrs. Asoulin’s high recommendation of him, I’d have guessed there was nothing to him at all. Are you sure that you are not overestimating him because you feel so desperate?”
Once again, Suri decided to ignore Rena, although there were plenty of responses she had in mind. She turned to her mother. “Ma, I was going to ask you if Yedidye could come this evening, so you could meet him and have a chance to speak with him. I know this was Tatty’s area of expertise, but I think if you just get to know him a little, you will see what I see. Remember, I am not looking for someone with an exciting personality. I’ve had enough of ‘exciting personality’ to last a lifetime.” This comment was spoken to her mother but really directed at Rena. “I am looking for someone with whom to build a Torah home. That’s it. No more and no less. He has everything I am looking for in a husband.”
Mrs. Barkoff and Rena were once again left speechless. Was Suri being brainwashed? Nothing she was saying now sounded even remotely like anything she had ever said before. Since when did Suri know what she wanted? Mattel had always been the one who was focused and goal-driven.
“Just give him a chance, Ma,” Suri said softly. “I really believe you will see what I see. And surely you of all people know that being married to the correct person can bring tremendous brachah into a person’s life, even when the circumstances are difficult.”
Suri stood up and rather than walking away from them, she sort of floated. Mrs. Barkoff and Rena stared after her, in shock. .
“Tell me, Rena, are you sure your evaluation of Yedidye was accurate? Even Mima Leah has heard of him.”
“Mom, a person can learn for years but still have an undeveloped personality. He seemed to me rather one-dimensional.”
“That’s a harsh analysis,” Mrs. Barkoff wondered.
“I just call them like I see them, and that’s what I saw.” Rena was smug with certainty.
“Well, I guess I shall have to see for myself,” Mrs. Barkoff sighed, wishing, for the hundredth time that her husband was by her side. He would know exactly what to do.
To be continued …