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I didn’t sleep well that night with the many doubts and questions I had floating through my mind about our future. I felt alone, as I didn't have Lorraine to talk to like I did when the girls were growing up. She was always a better problem solver when it came to matters like this and I missed her so much. I finally got into a sound sleep early in the morning and woke up about 7:30 with a very full bladder. I got up and went into the ensuite with a keen sense of urgency.
When I opened the door, I was treated to the rear view of Sean’s naked body and his cute bubble butt as he toweled off after a shower. I also got my first view of his back and the noticeable scars. That part of the view sickened me. I hadn’t heard him showering and when I barged in and got my quick view, he quickly covered up with his towel. I popped him on his butt on the way by him as I went to relieve myself. ‘What a skinny little waif. Surely some of that food he’s inhaled over the weekend has to be fattening him up.’
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who didn’t sleep well, as he decided to have his shower in my ensuite as he awoke earlier than I did. He used the ensuite shower, as he liked it better than the one in the main bathroom.
“That was quite a view so early in the morning buddy,” I said as I stood relieving myself. “Sorry, but nature is really calling….loudly. How come you’re up so early?”
“I..I’m sorry pop, but I couldn’t sleep so I thought I grab a shower. I’m sorry I waked you,” he said with the towel tightly wrapped around his thin little body.
“You didn’t wake me Sean, my bladder did,” I said as I left the room and gave him some privacy to finish up. I also realized I needed to do something about his grammar.
I wasn’t sure but I was guessing that both of us were reflecting on the territory that the two of us had entered with our display of affection last night. He seemed a little distracted at breakfast except that he was able to focus on inhaling his food.
“Is there something on your mind that you wanted to talk about Sean?” I asked, as we packed the dishwasher together.
He looked at me and shrugged and continued with the task. Finally he stopped, looked at me and said, “Did you really mean what you said last night pop?”
“You mean about when I said I loved you?”
“Yeah,” he said softly.
“I sure did young man. Was that too mushy for a teenager?”
When he shook his head no I asked, “Did you mean it too?”
He didn’t say a word, and came over and put his arms around me in a tight embrace. We were starting to make progress as the hug wasn’t accompanied by tears…from either of us.
“I guess that means yes eh?” I cupped the back of his head in my hand as I drew it into my chest.
We stood like that for a minute and I finally said, “Why don’t we go into the living room and sit down?”
We sat with my arm around him and his head leaning against my shoulder.
“I’ll have you know young man I don’t throw around my love to just anyone,” I said as I chuckled.
“Neither do I pop,” he said as he giggled. ‘That’s refreshing. The young fellow has a sense of humor.’
After a few minutes I broke the silence and said, “This is nice, I could stay like this all morning, but we have work to do.”
He looked at me with a puzzled look.
“I got some math and literacy materials yesterday and I’d like to spend the morning to see where you are at with your studies. As a matter of fact, I want to spend each morning for the next few weeks home schooling you. My goal is to get you into a regular classroom at the school nearby after the March Break in 3 weeks.”
“You’re going to teach me?” he looked at me with a surprised look on his face.
“Sean, I taught high school and was an administrator for 30 years before I retired 6 years ago. I’m used to dealing with 25-30 little squirrels like you in a classroom, so I think I can deal with just one quite well thanks. Let’s get you set up in the den and get to work.”
We started with math, and I went over some of the material at the end of the grade 6 book. I could see quickly that he had a good understanding of the material so after about 20 minutes I started in on the Grade 7 book. We spent about 1 hour and 15 minutes on Math and took a break for a snack.
The next hour and half didn’t go as well, as we did some literacy work. His reading and comprehension was very good, but his writing left a great deal to be desired. Spelling, grammar and sentence structure didn’t seem to be important things to him, as they seemed to be a major annoyance with everything he wrote.
“You must have been a real good teacher pop; you didn’t get mad or nuthin at me.” he said as we ate lunch.
“Nothing Sean… not ‘nuthin’,” I corrected him. ”Teaching is easy when I have a smart student like you young man,” I said as he blushed and giggled.
I really did mean what I said about a smart student, as I could see in the short time working with him that he had a fair bit of intelligence, despite his literacy deficiencies.
It had occurred to me over the last few days that my home wasn’t too teenager friendly, that I didn’t have many things to keep Sean entertained with, other than TV. After lunch I said, “Let’s go shopping again Sean, only this time let's go to Best Buy and see what we can find.” His ear-to-ear grin told me I had hit a home run.
After a lot of help from the young salesperson, we ended up with a Sony Playstation with NHL 10, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 and other games, a 120 GB iPod classic, a Bose iPod docking station, some appropriate Computer games (with no violence) and a 60” plasma TV for the media room to run the Sony on.
We got home and I helped him set up the TV and the Playstation. He really didn’t need much help from me with the Playstation, as he had a fair bit of technical smarts. ‘How did he have trouble with an electric toothbrush,’ I left him downstairs while I went upstairs to do some work in the den.
Later in the afternoon I called him up to the kitchen and told him he was going to be my sous chef, that I was going to give him a cooking lesson. We were going to cook chicken Florentine with roasted root vegetables and a salad together.
He looked at me like I had two heads and said, “Why do I gotta learn to cook. Guys don’t cook.”
“Why do I have to cook Sean not Gotta. Who do you think has been cooking for you since Friday night, the cooking fairy?” I said. “Guys do cook buddy. Most of the best chefs in the world are males. When you are at University or on your own you are going to need that life skill. Besides, chicks really go for guys who can cook,” I said with a wry grin.
He giggled and said, “Chicks pop? Do you mean girls?”
“Alright young man, don’t remind me that I’m an old fart!” I chuckled.
“You keep saying your old pop. How old are you?” he asked.
“Old enough to be your grandfather. I’m 60 years old Sean; 61 in September,” I answered
His Jaw dropped and he said, “Really? Wow! That’s old…um..I mean you don’t look that old.”
“I’m glad you corrected yourself young man,” I said with a devilish grin. “Let’s get cooking before you die of hunger.”
“What do I gotta….er ..have to do pop?’ he said.
I gave him a thumbs up to let him know I was happy he was remembering to correct his grammar.
We prepared the meal together, and he still had 10 fingers after he had cut up the vegetables. He seemed to enjoy himself, and was meticulous in his preparation. He certainly enjoyed consuming the meal!
We cleaned up, filled the dishwasher and went to the living room to relax in front of the upstairs Plasma TV. I sat down on the couch with my tea and he sat beside me and snuggled into my side. I looked down at him and thought, ‘What a special little guy he is.’
It’s so unfortunate that there were so many couples that would make great parents, that want to have children and can’t. And then there were parents like Sean’s mother that were blessed with a beautiful gift and abused what she was given.
I usually called my girls early in the week, and I broke up our snuggle and left Sean watching TV while I went to the Den to give them a call.
I called my youngest Carol, first. Carol was 27 years old and was the CEO of a foundation I set up after my lottery win. I started the foundation with $10 million of my $90 million after tax lottery winnings. After I distributed $15 million each to my girls and another $10 million to my family I was left with $40 million. The fact that I lived in Canada and won an American lottery, allowed me a measure of anonymity.
The foundation was set up to fund anything the board deemed worthy of funding. Some of the things that it funded were Prostate Cancer research being conducted by the radiation oncologist who treated me 3 years ago, the SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and certain youth projects. The youth funding was a major focus however, as that was where our board, as well as Carol and I, saw the greatest need.
In Canada youth funding is woefully inadequate, and many programs are funded by the various levels of government. However that funding is not stable from year-to-year and many of these programs are run by not-for-profit organizations that rely on the funding for their existence. I always thought that this is not a very satisfactory situation and vowed that I would try to do something about it after my good fortune.
In the big city next to me, a Christian organization called the Knox City Ministries was responsible for a lot of the youth homeless programs. Our foundation was able to provide funding that went towards a number of their programs. We had left this pretty much up to the organization how the funding was spent, but I had been coming to the realization over the last year, that I wanted to take a more active role. The situation with Sean had crystallized my thoughts and Carol and I would be having some discussions as to how that would be happening. I knew that both of us were on the same page, and now it would be a matter of bringing that to the full board. Now, however, was not the time to get into that with her, but I was resolved that it would happen sooner than later.
“How’s my baby girl been this week?” I asked.
“Your baby girl’s been as busy as hell Dad. Between the Foundation and my consulting business I barely have time for a social life,” she laughed.
She updated me on events related to the foundation and what was new with her HR consulting business. Finally she asked, “What’s new with you Dad?”
“Well, I picked up a stray on Friday night after my hockey game, other than that nothing’s new,” I said.
“What kind of dog is it?” she asked.
“Well, it’s not exactly a dog; it’s a 13 year old boy,” I replied.
There was a long pause on the other end, and finally she said, “You’re kidding aren’t you Dad.”
I paused a moment and said, “Actually Carol, I’m not.”
After she came down from the ceiling, I filled her in on the events of the last 4 days. By the end of my story, she had calmed down, and seemed more receptive to what I was doing. She asked all sorts of questions about Sean, and seemed genuinely interested in him.
“When do Katie (my older daughter) and I get to meet our new brother Dad?” She asked.
“How does this Saturday sound? I was going to invite you, Katie, Marty (Katie’s live-in boyfriend) and the rest of the family to dinner here to meet him.”
She said she was available and asked what she could bring before we ended the conversation. She said she was excited to meet the young fellow, which pleased me a great deal.
My next call was to my older daughter Katie, who had just turned 30 years old. Katie, like her sister, had set up her own consulting business after she quit her job as a brand manager for a large consumer product manufacturer after the lottery win. She had an extensive background in marketing research and had many large clients that she consulted for.
She and Marty had been together as a couple for 7 years, and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get married. This was something that drove my wife Lorraine crazy when she was alive and was a source of tension between Katie and her. While I would have preferred they tied the knot, I realized that it was their life and I needed to butt out.
I told her of my news and after she recovered from what I told her, she and Marty agreed to come for dinner on Saturday. She was really looking forward to meeting Sean, which I was surprised at. Katie was more reserved than Carol, and I was a little concerned about what her reaction would be.
“Other parents take in dogs as strays Dad, but you’ve always done things a little differently,” she laughed. “What can I bring?” she asked as we ended the conversation.
I went into the living room and told Sean it was time to get ready for bed as it was almost 10 pm. He went upstairs to get ready for bed and I went into the den and checked my email. After about 20 minutes he called down that he was ready.
I tucked him in and sat down on the bed beside him. I wasn’t sure how he was going to take the weekend’s plans but I decided to tell him now, rather than later.
“Sean, I’m going to have my..our family over for dinner on Saturday to meet you. How do you feel about that?" I asked.
He frowned and didn’t say anything for a few seconds, then finally he said, “I’m scared pop. What if they don’t like me?”
“Relax Sean, I was just on the phone tonight to those two hot babes you saw in the picture on the living room end table, and both of them are looking forward to meeting their foster brother,” I said softly, as I tried to reduce his fears. “I’m going to call the rest of the family tomorrow and hopefully everyone can make it."
The rest of my family consisted of my Nieces Katharine and Janet and their families and my widowed sister Maryanne, who was 10 years older than me. As well, Lorraine’s Brother David and his wife Rebekka but not their two sons who were living out of the country. In all there would be 15 people including Sean.
“But I don’t know how I’m supposed to act or nuthin…er or anything,” he stammered.
I was pleased he was correcting his own grammar without me saying anything.
“Just be yourself Sean, and they’ll love you as much as I do. Relax, I promise they don’t bite,” I reassured him.
He seemed to relax and I ruffled his hair, leaned down and kissed his forehead.
“Goodnight Sean, I love you,” I said.
He smiled and said, “I love you too pop.”
‘My goodness, I’m never going to tire of this routine!’