Dear Theodore Geisel,
In December, 2004, I was nine years old, and my family visited a hospital in Tel Aviv. I can still remember snapshots from that day. It had rained incessantly, “the sun did not shine. It was too wet to play.” I can see the image of the four of us as a family, huddled under our one rainbow umbrella and shuffling through the revolving front door. I can see the front desk, metallic, looming, and massive to my nine year old eyes. I can see a white corridor, with white walls and white tiles, stretching out before me as far as the eye could see. We were visiting my grandmother.
When we arrived at her room, my parents didn’t want to go in at first. They wanted to talk to the doctor about something. I did not understand. They acted like they did not wish to see my grandmother. My sister, on the other hand, had no such qualms. Dragging me along, she burst into the room and assaulted my grandmother with a shout of delight and a hug vast enough for the both of us. I sat meekly in the chair by her bed and, through the crescent window in the door, watched the doctor speak to my parents. I think I was scared. I think somehow, deep down, I knew something was wrong, and I didn’t know what to do. My grandmother, though, knew exactly what to do. She told my sister to sit down next to me, and she told us she was going to read us a story.
And so she did, in a soft, raspy voice that always pronounced the words slightly wrong. “The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play.” She read to us The Cat in the Hat. And as she read, the three of us, together, smiled. We laughed. We escaped from that dreary hospital room and entered a world of fun and mischief, a world of toys and talking fist and cats with big red hats. That was the last time I saw my grandmother. But, thanks to you, it was not the last time I heard her. Because now, every rainy day, all I have to do is pull out my battered copy of The Cat in the Hat, and I am back in that hospital room again. I can still hear her soft, raspy voice tell me about Thing 1 and Thing 2. I can still hear her tell me that “the sun did not shine. It was too wet to play.”
Theodore Geisel. They tell me that’s your name. But it’s not, really. Because to me, you will always be Dr. Seuss. You will always be my grandmother, lying in her hospital bed. You will always be the smiles and laughs the three of us shared that day. You will always be that mischievous, grinning cat in that tall, striped red hat. So thank you, Dr. Seuss. Thank you for being there for me on a rainy day. Thank you for knowing exactly how to make me smile and laugh. Thank you for making my grandmother’s voice immortal. Thank you for understanding that we all want, we all need, to be a nine year old again every now and then. Thank you for everything.