Growing up in Brooklyn, my Jewish mother wasn't allowed to enter the synagogue on Saturdays. No women could. This made going to Hebrew school impossible and as a result she didn't get bat mitzvahed when she turned 13.
Her brother had a bar mitzvah. A huge fuss was made over him--believe me, I've seen the old black and white movie. I think my grandparents thought my mom's wedding would make up for her lack of a bat mitzvah.
But even after her wedding my mom still wanted a bat miztvah. In fact, she decided she'd have a double one with me when I turned 13. Even while sick in the hospital my mom had a Hebrew tutor. I can't imagine being that devoted to learning while being sick. But that was my mom.
She passed away before I turned 13 and before we could go through with our double ceremony. When it came time for my bat mitzvah, I'd been out of Hebrew school awhile and knew our finances wouldn't allow for the schooling or a huge bat miztvah party. Plus I wouldn't have been able to go through with the whole ritual if my mom wasn't there to go through it with me.
Despite all of that, my dad and then step-monster made my 13th birthday special. On vacation in San Francisco, we attended Friday night services and the rabbi acknowledged me and my family. It was an ok substitute and actually felt pretty good at the time.
A friend of my mom's asked me recently if I'll ever have a bat mitzvah. She explained how she'd promised my mom that me and my sister would get bat mitzvahed even if my mom couldn't be there with us. I just smiled and said "hopefully" and "you never know, maybe I'll have a double with my own daughter one day."