“Where’s my brown-eyed princess?” he called as soon as he set his hat on the rack and tossed his coat over the banister. His voice reverberated throughout the small house, now all the more a home because of his arrival.
He kicked his wet shoes off into the mat and loosened his tie, unbuttoned two buttons on his white shirt. “Come on, princess, let’s play!” he called, waiting. Usually she was sitting by the door, but today she was off somewhere, immersed in a game.
He quickly ran a hand through his hair and got down on his hands and knees. “Come ride your pony,” he boomed.
“Daddy!” she cried, running from the kitchen, through the house, and vaulted into his back, hugging him. “I love you, Daddy! I missed you!”
“I missed you, too, princess,” he said, beginning his loop around the living room. “Where to today?” he asked, as he did every day.
“Can we go to India?” she asked, her voice hopeful and excited.
“Of course, princess,” he agreed, rounding the armchair and nearing the fireplace. “Which way is it to India?” he asked.
“Oh, Daddy, I don’t know. Don’t you know the way?”
“Well, I’m not sure, but I think we need to go south, and over oceans.” He paused near the fire for a few moments.
“Oceans, Daddy?” she asked as she tightened her grip on the collar of his shirt.
“Yes, princess. But ponies cannot ride over oceans, so we’ll need to take a ship.”
“A ship? Really?” she was so excited that she nearly fell off of his back.
He stopped while she climbed back on, “Yes, my love, a huge ship! Would you like that?”
“Yes, Daddy! Let’s go! Mommy and Norman can come, too, right?”
“Yes, princess,” he laughed his deep laugh, pausing to lean against the sofa. Little did he know that in a few short months he’d be boarding a plane without his family. Ships were no longer the only way to cross oceans.
“Oh, Daddy, I can’t wait to sail to India and meet the Indians!” she cried, climbing off of his back and onto the sofa. “When do we leave?” As he sat up, she grabbed his hands.
“After dinner, my love, after dinner,” he laughed, turning to smile and wink at his wife—my Bubbie—in the kitchen doorway, who was holding a dishtowel and wearing the same slightly displeased expression that would come to be her usual expression years later when I was born.
“Dinner is ready,” she said.