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It was now Thursday morning and Diego was prompt as usual and arrived at 8:45 for Sean's 9 a.m. session. Sean was excited to show Diego his writing assignment on the Blue Jays prospects for the upcoming season, as he had done a lot of research on the internet over the last few days, and spent a lot of time writing and rewriting his work.
"How's our star tutor today?" Diego said to Sean as he tousled his hair.
Sean gave him a big smile.
"Well I'm anxious to see if the Jays are going to win the American League East this year. Why don't we go into the Den and I'll read your expert analysis."
While they were in the Den having their session, it gave me a chance to make a few calls on the kitchen phone. The first one was to my Dentist Jim Hill. I had meant to make an appointment for Sean before this but I had forgotten. I was able to get him in the next Tuesday in the morning. I had a feeling that he probably needed a filling or two, and I was sure he was going to need braces as soon as possible. He had the beginnings of a cross over in his top front teeth. Dr. Hill would be able to make an assessment and refer us to the orthodontist my girls went to when they were his age.
The next call was to Katharine. I wanted to see if there was any news about Sean's grandfather.
"We haven't heard anything as of yet. We've contacted CAS and the Police department in Montréal where his last known address was. We're still waiting for them to get back to us," she said.
"By the way, you caused quite a stir at the Welfare office with your private detective's report. Heads are rolling, and it's cascaded up to the political level. There's going to be a big investigation of their practices."
"What's Sean's mother been charged with?" I asked.
"Child endangerment and failing to provide the necessities of life. As well she's charged with quite a few counts of Welfare fraud and not just because of the deception involving Sean's sister, but also the fact that she wasn't spending money on Sean. On top of that, she wasn't entitled to Welfare at all when she started living with Greeves, as he was making a good income, and that wasn't reported to the Welfare office as she was required to do."
"I don't mean to be vindictive, but I have no sympathy for her. As far as I'm concerned, she's despicable and needs to be held accountable for her actions. Hopefully this hits the newspapers and maybe the story will deter others," I said.
"I guess your last statement kind of gives me an answer to my next question Uncle Al."
I asked her what she meant, and she told me that Sean's mother had asked to see him. I lost my cool and referred to the mother in some very unflattering terms. Katharine was shocked at my reaction and was at a loss for words.
"Katharine, I apologize. I shouldn't have used language like that. It's just that I think that woman has a lot of gall to ask to see Sean after the trauma she's caused this kid over his short lifetime. What possible motives, other than bad ones, could she have?"
She agreed with me, but she told me it was her duty to pass on the request even though her parental rights were in the process of being cut off.
"It's entirely up to Sean, and if he refuses then I have no problem denying her request, but you have to ask him," she said as she sighed.
I told her I would ask Sean when I thought the time was appropriate, but told her a visit would only take place with me present.
"Fair enough, I'm Ok with those conditions. And, as I said, I'm also comfortable telling the mother that Sean doesn't want to see her. Let me know what he says."
After we hung up I just shook my head in disbelief. Unfortunately Sean and Diego were just entering the Kitchen for a snack and Sean asked me what was the matter. I tried to cover up my disgust, but I wasn't very convincing. I told Sean that it was nothing serious, but I would talk to him later after they were finished.
They quickly ate the snack and I could see that Sean was concerned.
"Don't worry, it's nothing major. Finish up your session and I'll tell you after you're finished," I said as I had now composed myself.
Sean seemed to relax, and the two of them went back to the Den to finish up the session.
"Things are really coming along very nicely," Diego said as they came out into the hall after they had finished.
"Diego agrees with me that the Jays are going to make the playoffs this year," Sean said with a big smile on his face.
Diego left and said he would see Sean next Monday.
We had finished lunch and before I could sit down to talk with Sean, a call came in. I could see on the call display it was from Peter Tallofsen, so I took it in the Den and left Sean in the kitchen cleaning up.
"I hope you have good news Peter, as it hasn't been that good a day so far."
"Well I do Al. Greeves changed his plea to guilty. His lawyer called our office this morning with the news."
I was quite relieved and thanked Peter.
"Don't thank me Al, you did all the work. You didn't do anything physical did you?" he asked.
"No Peter, why?"
"You really got to him. He told the guards he didn't want to see that guy with the crazy look in his eyes again," he said as he laughed.
I came out of the Den and asked Sean to join me on the couch. I put my arm around his shoulder, and pulled him into a cuddle.
"I have a couple of things we need to talk about, and I don't want you to get upset. Some things have come up you need to make some decisions about," I said as reassuring as I could be.
I thought the easiest thing to deal with first was the personal effects we were going to pick up that afternoon.
"Dean Balderson called yesterday and he wants you to come down to the Police station this afternoon to see what personal items from the house you want to keep. They've cleaned out the house and confiscated a lot of items because your mother and Greeves got the stuff illegally."
He didn't say anything for a few moments and finally said, "There's only two things I want..... I hope they're there."
I paused as I thought he would tell me what they were. When he didn't say anything I continued, "The other thing we need to talk about is a request from your mother to see you."
He turned and looked at me but didn't say a word. I could tell he was thinking of what he wanted to say, but after quite a few moments he just turned and joined the cuddle again.
"It's up to you Sean if you want to see her. Katharine said you didn't have to go, as she would tell your mother that you denied her request .... if that's what you want."
"I don't know Pop, I don't know what I want to do," he said annoyed that he was having to make this decision.
I ruffled his hair, and told him he didn't have to make the decision right now, and maybe he should think about it for awhile.
He nodded his head yes and said, "When do we go look at the stuff?"
We arrived at the Police station and after we cleared the security provisions set up for visitors, we were shown into Dean's office. He got up from his desk and gave us a warm welcome.
"Let's go down to the property room and you can go through the personal effects from the house and take what you want," he said as he put his arm around Sean's shoulder, as he guided him out of the room.
There really wasn't very much to go through of Sean's stuff, as most of the items were Sean's mother and Greeves' clothing and personal items. From the look of what was there it was obvious that the two of them were living high on the hog. There was some expensive clothing and jewelry that I suggested we donate to the Knox City Ministry's Used Clothing program.
Sean started to go through the green garbage bag that had his stuff. I was saddened when I saw the meagre pile after he had emptied the bag on the counter. The clothing was tattered and in the same shape as the rags we took off of him when we found him. There were a few Blue Jay and Leafs souvenirs and a well worn teddy bear.
He was pretty quiet, and he just separated the stuff into two piles; one of items to be kept, the other to be thrown away. When he picked up the teddy bear he paused, looked at it and held it in both his hands. He put it gently on the pile to keep. He also paused at a Marineland Theme Park t-shirt I'm sure was 2 sizes too small for even him, and very dirty. That also went onto the keeper pile.
When he had finished I picked up the box of pictures and was about to put my arm around him to leave, when he said, "I don't want those pictures."
"Don't you want to go through them and put them into an album?".
I didn't expect the reaction I got when he said, "I don't want the pictures! Put them back."
There was no way I was going to leave those pictures, as they were the only record we would have of his childhood. It would be the only link he had to his past, and if he left them he would have no reminder in the future as his memory faded with age. Occasionally it gave me comfort looking back at my childhood pictures, and the wonderful moments I had with my parents and sister on the many holidays and family functions we had. I really was at a loss to explain why he was reacting that way.
I could tell that this could spark our first major confrontation, but I wasn't prepared to back down.
"Sean I'm not about to leave without these. I have photo albums of Carol and Katie, and I want one of you. Please let's not get into this here."
He grabbed the teddy bear and t-shirt and stomped out of the room without saying a word.
The ride home was a pretty frosty one. Sean pouted and held the 2 items tightly to his chest for the whole ride home. Despite my attempts to get him to reason all I got from his was glares and grunts of acknowledgement to some of my questions.
When we got into the townhouse he stomped upstairs and closed the door to his room. I decided to give him some space to cool down, while I looked through the box of pictures in the living room.
I felt very angry when I had finished going through them. Out of what I estimated were 250 pictures, 25 were of Sean at various ages. There were two baby pictures and a scattering of others as he grew up. There were no recent pictures from the last 2-3 years. There were however many pictures of his mother and her various boyfriends having a very good time.
He was a cute little fellow when he was younger, with his blond curly hair and blue eyes and was smiling in most of the pictures he was in. I also noticed that there wasn't one picture where his mother had any contact with him, including the two baby pictures. When I thought of all the pictures we had of our girls my heart went out to him knowing that much of his childhood memories would be lost forever.
By now he had come back down and went into the kitchen. I walked in and he looked up without saying a word. I went over and put both arms around him in a firm hug. He resisted at first, but finally relaxed and with no tears. That was a big change. We stood like that for about a minute, and I suggested we go to the living room couch.
"I'm sorry Sean, but I'm going to be selfish about these pictures. This is the only record either of us has of you when you were younger. You were a cute little guy, and you still are," I said as I smiled at him. "Without these pictures neither of us will have any memories of your childhood."
"Those were my past life. I don't want those memories."
Now some of his reaction was making sense.
"Can you tell me why you kept the teddy bear and the t-shirt?"
He sighed and didn't say anything for a few moments.
Finally he said, "The teddy bear was my only friend at home. The t-shirt from Marineland was a souvenir from the only time I got to go to some place neat like other kids."
He moved closer and cuddled into my side. Again there were no tears from Sean, but I was getting choked up. I guess we had passed a milestone with his emotions.
"How about we wash the t-shirt tomorrow?"
He shook his head yes, and went upstairs to bring it down to the laundry room.
Dana arrived about 3 to baby sit. I filled her in on the new events. She told me to go and she would see what she could do to get our happy boy back.
My Thursday night hockey was with a bunch of teachers. I had been playing with the group for 25 years. The group was a mix of older retired teachers like myself, and many younger ones. The game wasn't as competitive as my other 2 weekly games.
The events surrounding Sean were starting to weigh heavily on me. I wasn't into the game as I couldn't take my mind off of today's events and the possible meeting with Sean's mother. I stunk. I ended up playing the worst game I had played in years, and let in 12 goals.
"Earth to Al! Were you having an out-of-body experience tonight?" my friend Graham asked.
"The puck has to pass the 5 of you before it gets to me. What were you guys doing out in front of me?" I said as I tried to lighten up the conversation.
I tried to shake things off, but I wasn't very successful. The guys knew something was wrong, but they gave me my space. I showered and quickly left.
I stopped into the camera store on the way home and left the negatives of some of the pictures of Sean and a memory stick with pictures that my brother-in-law David had taken of the family get-together on Saturday. David was a semi professional photographer, and had managed to get some great shots, especially the one of all of us taken together.
"Are you going to stay and eat dinner with us?" I asked Dana when I came into the kitchen after I hung up my equipment.
"You two need some time to yourselves," she said as she put her coat on to leave. "I'll see you next Wednesday."
She ruffled Sean's hair and gave him a kiss before she left.
There wasn't much conversation as we ate. Sean was a little better, as Dana had managed to brighten his spirits somehow. I managed to get out of him that he made the Broccoli with cheese sauce and the roasted potatoes. Other than that it was one of those conversations with no substance to it.
We took our tea into the living room and watched the end of the news. I knew he was thinking of the visit with his mother and it was eating him up.
"I should tell Katharine what your decision is soon. Do you know what you want to do?"
"I know you don't want me to go, so I guess I won't," he said looking down at his feet.
"I never said that Sean."
He was now looking at me and said, "You didn't have to say it."
"I don't want you to make your decision based on what you think I want you to do. Do it for yourself not me. I don't want you to get hurt, that's all."
"So you don't want me to go," he said as a statement not a question.
"What I want is for you to be comfortable with your decision knowing you made it."
"It's Ok, you've done so much for me and I don't know how to thank you." He paused and then said, "I won't go."
I turned to face him and took his chin in my hand.
"You've already thanked me by giving me the son I always wanted. I owe you for bringing joy into my life that I've been missing for years."
He smiled and snuggled in beside me and we sat like that for a couple of minutes, not saying a word.
Finally he said, "Tell Katharine I'll see my mom, but not until after the weekend Pop."
We both went upstairs to get ready for bed early as we were exhausted.
He was ready to be tucked in and I sat down on the side of the bed and said, "Does your Teddy have a name?"
"Just Teddy," he said with a smile.
"You two have a lot of catching up to do."
"We did this afternoon. He's real happy now too," he said as he sighed and rolled onto his side.
That was my cue and I leaned down and kissed his forehead.
"Do I kiss Teddy's forehead too."
"Yeah," he said as he giggled.
"I love you young man. Please don't ever forget that."
"I won't. I love you too."