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Victoria’s Secrets: An open letter to Jonah

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Cousinly love!

It’s been a stunningly fast 13 years since you were born on the West Coast. Now, watching you stand on the bema smoothly reading your Torah portion at your bar mitzvah made my heart burst with love and pride.

You had come to live with me when you were 4 years old and had lost your dad, Sam, in May, just after I had lost my husband Stu in March. You and 2-year-old Addy moved in for seven years and I had the joy of your company every day during that precious time.

Jonah on the football field

You grew to be a fast runner and you found your passion in sports.

I remember driving miles to Oyster Bay on a cold night to watch you enthusiastically play lacrosse and cheer on your team whether you were on the field or off.

You were the boy who said to his teammates, “good play,” or, “you’ll get the goal next time.” I was always so proud to see you support everyone around you. 

Jonah with his mom

I love how you protect and cherish and watch over your younger sister, Addy, even though you have your fights from time to time.

It’s not easy growing up without a dad, yet you have always been there for your family. 

Your heart is as big as a football field  — a place where I feared you playing! But your persistence to play paid off and you convinced your mom to let you do it.

Jonah, Hudson and Blake

Whenever I watch you play, I shut my eyes and hope your skinny body won’t get crushed. But you’re so fast and mostly elude the players trying to stop you. But my heart beats fast when I watch you run like lightning with the ball to score a touchdown!

I know you want to be a professional player, but only time will tell if your body will cooperate!

I remember when your Uncle Josh had a similar dream, but after suffering a broken ankle while sliding into home plate and then separating his shoulder while wrestling, he decided to take another path. First, he was off to business school, then to investment banking, until he eventually became my partner in the media company I started — lucky me!

Generational joy at Jonah’s bar mitzvah!

Not only do you excel at sports, but in school, too! Your almost perfect report card speaks to the guaranteed success in life at anything you choose to do!

You are now, by Jewish law, a man. The world is yours to create a path that brings you joy and love. 

May God be with you and give you the courage to deal with the challenges you will face in life.

Jonah at his bar mitzvah

But no matter what, you are guaranteed a family who loves you, cherishes you, respects you, adores you and appreciates your uniquely beautiful heart and mind. 

Here’s to you from your biggest fan! Mazel tov, my dearest darling Jonah!

— Your loving Grammy

A surprisingly superb night

With Catherine Canadeo, Terri Magrow, Jeremy Stolle, Joan MacNaughton, Dr. James Lentini and Ernie Canadeo

When Ernie Canadeo, president and CEO of The EGC Group, and his wife Catherine invited me to join them for dinner and a show, I said yes before getting the details. 

It was a night to get together and that was good enough for me to accept their gracious invitation. But little did I know, I was in for an extraordinary surprise.

We met at Chadwick’s American Chop House & Bar, a charming place near the Rockville Centre LIRR station, and hurried through a delicious dinner to get to the Madison Theatre on the Molloy College campus.

My friend and colleague Joan MacNaughton and I made our way to the school, rushing to make it before the 7 p.m. curtain rise.

It wasn’t until I was in my third-row, center seat, that I saw the program title of the performance: “Gershwin to Broadway,” a benefit for Catholic Relief Services raising much-needed dollars for victims of the war in Ukraine.

After meeting Ernie and Cathy’s friends seated around me, I sat back to enjoy the show. 

My breath was taken away as Jeremy Stolle, the extraordinarily talented star of my favorite Broadway show, “The Phantom of the Opera” — he has performed in 5,500 shows! — brought down the house with a brilliantly written opening song that parodied his love of Starbucks.

Catherine with Richie Cannata

The show continued with one standing ovation after another as we heard great opera singers Raquel Suarez Groen and Carlton Moe performing Verdi and Puccini favorites.

Tears filled my eyes as I was transfixed on pianist Philip Edward Fisher performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” What a treat!

Then onto the stage came Billy Joel’s favorite saxophone player and Long Islander Richie Cannata.

The ensemble of world-class performers were joined by Molloy’s chorus singers and got a standing ovation for their rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

There was encore after encore — I couldn’t get enough of the talented people brought to us by empresarios Drs. Louis and Julie Pannullo, who had organized the show. 

I wanted the winning night to last forever! 

Molloy College President Dr. James Lentini, himself a musician, spoke about his joy of offering his school’s theater and stage with his artistic director Angelo Fraboni.

I’m looking forward to hearing every minute of the show again from the video recording that was made. 

To make a donation through Catholic Relief services, visit support.crs.org/donate/donate-ukraine.

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