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We were eating breakfast -at least I was, Sean was inhaling his as usual- when the doorbell rang. I answered it and Dana Janzen my housekeeper came in.
“Good Morning Al,” she said. “Sorry I’m late, the roads aren’t too good this morning, and you know me, I’m not crazy about driving in the snow.”
Dana was a little younger than I was, and she had been a long time friend of Lorraine and me. Her two girls and ours were friends as they were growing up. She had been divorced for about 10 years, and hadn’t been left too well off financially after the divorce settlement. She used to have a cleaning business with 10 employees, but she found it too much, so she just kept a couple of clients and sold the business.
She also did some catering on the side, as she was a very good cook, and enjoyed it. With her support payments from her ex-husband this was enough to sustain her, and she was reasonably happy with the workload.
When Lorraine was alive we used her services more out of obligation than need. But, now that I was on my own, I was thankful for the help once a week keeping my place clean. I was reasonably neat, but I really didn’t like cleaning.
Even though it was a business relationship, she was still a friend, and I enjoyed her company each week. It really was just a friendship, as I wasn’t interested in a relationship at this time in my life. I was still having a tough time with Lorraine’s death, and I wasn’t ready to be dating yet…if ever.
“Dana, I’d like to introduce my foster son Sean. He’s been living with me since Friday night,” I said, as I watched Dana’s jaw drop.
She stood there for a few moments in stunned silence, and finally recovered and said, “I..I’m pleased to meet you young man.”
I realized that she was still dumbfounded, so I jumped in and told her she could clean upstairs and the media room in the morning as we would be using the den for tutoring. I quietly told her when Sean wasn’t looking that I would talk to her later and fill her in.
The tutoring was going well, as Sean had finished the Grade 7 math book with ease, but his writing was still a concern. I decided to start the Grade 8 math book, and continued after his mid morning break with short writing exercises and basic grammar and spelling. He knew what he wanted to write, but it still wasn’t coming out in what I considered an intelligible form. There was progress, and I was careful to give him positive feedback.
When we took our break and snack in the kitchen, Dana joined us. I could see that she was over the initial shock of the whole situation, and had a pleasant conversation with Sean. I could also see that she was very taken with the young man.
She always fixed lunch on the days she cleaned, as she loved to cook, and I loved the interesting food she prepared. Apparently Sean did as well, as I was half way through my lunch when I looked up and Dana was giving him seconds. After lunch Sean went down to the clean media room and Dana and I had a chance to talk.
“You never cease to amaze me Al,” she said with a smile. “Please tell me the story about that cute little guy.”
I filled her in and I could see her eyes were getting misty as I told her the trauma Sean had been through. The pity turned to outrage when I told her of the situation with the boyfriend and Sean’s mother.
“I hope somebody is making sure those two never get out of jail. How can parents do that to their children?” she said.
I assured her that things were being taken care of and that hopefully justice was going to be served.
I also asked her to cater the dinner on Saturday, which she was very pleased to do. We negotiated the price, which was always a case of me trying to pay her more than she was willing to accept. She gave up, as usual, as she knew I always got my way.
I also asked her if she could come on Thursday afternoons to baby sit and make Sean’s supper, as I played hockey and didn’t get home until almost 6:30. In golf season our Mens’ league ran on Thursday, and I didn’t get home until after 9.
“I’d be happy to Al, as this will give me my grandmother fix. Just like you that hasn’t happened for me yet,” she said as she chuckled.
I told her I was going to go to the school, to arrange Sean’s teachers and classes for after the March break, and that I would be back in about and hour and a half. As well, I was going to get some assignments and tests to get Sean used to what he would experience when he started back in the classroom.
“I’m sure we’ll be fine while you’re gone,” she said as she smiled.
The grandmother was now coming out of her and she added, “Do you think he would want a snack in about an hour?”
I laughed and told her to get her fingers out of the way quickly when she put the food down on the counter. I went down and told Sean I was going out, and he was a little concerned where I was going. I didn’t tell him any specifics, but I told him I had some errands to do.
Over at the school, Gord Caudle and I mapped out his timetable, and I hand-picked his teachers. I knew who were the excellent ones in the school and I wasn’t about to accept anything but the best for Sean. This was the same thing I did when my girls were going through the system. Like my girls, he would never know what I had done though.
When I returned to the condo, I found the two of them in the den on the computer. Sean was adding Dana to his Facebook site and showing her his website.
“Well you two seem to be getting along quite well,” I said.
“You should have seen the snack Dana made for me pop!” Sean excitedly exclaimed.
Dana had raided the fridge and managed to make a wonderful banana split sundae. She also baked some chocolate chip cookies for him.
“I’ll bet you didn’t leave any for me buddy, did you?” I said as I chuckled.
I was almost correct. They left me 3 out of a dozen cookies, and no sundae.
“Al, you need to do some serious grocery shopping for tomorrow, and Saturday,” Dana said.
“Why don’t you take my SUV, its better in the snow, and you and Sean go shopping. Here’s my debit card and I’ll write down the PIN number for you,” I told her as I handed it over.
While they were shopping that gave me a chance to make a few calls I didn’t want Sean to hear. The first few were to make arrangements for Sean and me for the March break. I booked Sean into golf school at the Eagle Creek golf club in Naples Florida. I had a home in the Eagle Creek Golf community and was a member of the club. I had bought the 4 bedroom bungalow shortly after my lottery win, as something for our family to use.
I also called the airport and booked the private jet I usually used to make the trip. As well, I had my travel agent purchase some 3 day passes for Sean and me at Disney World and book us into the Grand Floridian resort in a 2 bedroom suite in the main building. I was kind of looking forward to that, as I hadn’t been there since the early 90’s when my girls were Sean’s age. Lorraine and I had talked about going there just ourselves a couple of years before she died.
The next call was to Rick. I had a couple of things to ask him.
“How’s the patient making out,” Rick asked.
I brought him up to date and then asked him if Rickie would baby sit tonight and Friday night while we played hockey. We had been playing Wednesday night shinny at the same rink and the same time for 30 years. There were only 4 guys left from the original group, Rick and I being two of them. The rest of the group was friends of Rick’s other son Jason. They were a bunch of 25 year old ex junior hockey players who certainly put us through our paces. It was all the two of us could do to hang on most nights, but we were still competitive and somehow managed to survive. Friday night was our Oldtimers league game.
Rickie was home from classes and he said he was glad to do it. Rick said he was looking forward to spending some time with his ‘little brother’, and that he would bring a movie on DVD and some of his computer games for them to play.
“Rick, I need to get a passport for Sean by the March Break. Do you still have pull down at Service Canada?” I asked.
Rick was the managing director of one of the largest Service Canada offices in the province before he retired 2 years ago.
“I’m sure I can manage it if he doesn’t have one already, although that’s probably unlikely,” he said. “I’ll need a copy of the foster certificate and I’ll get on it tomorrow. Bring a copy with you tonight.”
After supper, Rickie arrived with his stuff, and I left the two of them as they headed off to the media room.
As usual, it was a very strenuous game, but I managed to prevail and we won the game 8-7. I had learned as I aged that I couldn’t rely on my reflexes like I could in my twenties, and I developed better positioning which was the only way I was able to survive with the young guns on Wednesday night. Afterwards, we went up to bar for some beer and male bonding.
I arrived home about 11:00 and Sean was upstairs, and I assumed asleep. I asked Rickie how they had made out and he smiled and said fine. I knew he enjoyed spending time with Sean, and I was going to give him as much opportunity to do that as possible, as he was a great kid and a great role model for Sean.
“I don’t think he’s asleep yet Uncle Al,” Rickie said. “He was hoping to stay up until you got home to say goodnight to him.”
I thanked him, and paid him generously, which brought a big smile from him. When he had gone, I went upstairs to Sean’s room and opened the door gingerly to see if he was still awake. I could see a tuft of sandy blond hair peaking out from the covers, but it looked like he was asleep.
I was just about to leave when I heard him softly say, “Hi Pop. Can you say goodnight to me?”
I sat down on the side of the bed and said, “Sure buddy. Why aren’t you asleep?”
I leaned over to give him a kiss on his forehead, and he stiffened and moved away from me.
“What’s the matter Sean?” I asked.