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It was about 8:30 in the morning and I was having my morning Latte that I made on my espresso machine, as I read the Saturday paper. Sean and Jake weren't up yet, as they were still sleeping. It was well after 1 a.m. when I finally dropped off last night, and I know they were still going strong. Their whispered conversations, giggling and other things kept me up.
I finally heard them upstairs going into the bathroom to shower and get ready for breakfast about 9 am. About 20 minutes later I went to the top of the stairs rather than yelling from the kitchen, to ask what they wanted for breakfast, and I was greeted by the two of the coming out of the bathroom.
"My goodness," I said as I looked at the two of them.
Sean had a robe around himself, but Jake was naked with his towel slung over his shoulder.
"Oh, sorry sir," he said as he finally wrapped the towel around himself. "I don't worry about that at home or around Sean."
"Don't mind me Jake, you just surprised me," I said as I chuckled. "I'm not used to naked boys running around my house."
Their personalities were certainly different, as if I didn't know that by now.
"I was going to ask whether you wanted to have eggs and Canadian bacon or Pancakes."
"Sure pop," Sean smiled and said as he and Jake disappeared into their room.
After we finished our eggs, Canadian bacon and pancakes, we sat down in the living room. They just sat there looking at me and not saying a word.
"We're waiting pop."
"You mean to find out what we're doing today?" I asked.
I decided I had teased enough and told them that I had arranged to go into Toronto to have lunch with Carol at her condo apartment, then on to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I didn't tell them what we were doing for supper, as I thought I'd keep one surprise at least.
We arrived at Carol's apartment about 11:30, as the traffic was heavy as usual. Toronto, like most major cities, was awful to get into and drive around in.
I entered the building's parking garage and found her space had a late model BMW already parked in it. Carol didn't own a car, as she preferred to rent or take a limo service if she needed to leave Toronto for any reason and mass transit in the city. Even though her three million dollar three bedroom condo was the penthouse in a very posh building, Carol was somewhat frugal. I was very surprised and called her on my Blackberry.
"There seems to be someone parked in your spot Carol," I said.
"Just park in the spot next to mine, they're away for the weekend," she answered.
I was puzzled with her reaction, as she didn't seem too concerned with the 'squatter'.
When she greeted us at the door to her condo, I noticed that she wasn't alone, as a guy about her age was standing behind her.
She introduced us to her 'friend' Kyle Davidson. Of course, there were quite a few questions rattling around in my head by now, but I thought I'd wait and pick my moment.
She hugged and kissed Sean and me and said, "Well you must be Jake."
She hugged and kissed him as well and as much as he wasn't shy, I was amused that he blushed. It wasn't as pronounced with his olive skin, but it was still obvious.
Carol had made us a great lunch and the boys, Kyle and I made short work of our food. While we were eating I was able to find out some things about Kyle, but I wasn't very good at finding out what I really wanted to know. Lorraine was a master at that, and she would have found out before lunch had ended whether he was her boyfriend and if he had slept over the night before.
Carol and I had a chance to talk very briefly as we were cleaning up after lunch.
"You're not very good at finding out information Dad. You should have paid more attention to Mom, she was the master," she said to me as she smiled.
"Yes he's my boyfriend, and yes he stayed over last night and no he's not going to Disney World with us. He has to work."
She told me they had been set up by Marty, as Kyle was a Chartered Accountant at the major accounting firm that Marty worked for. They had been going together for a month, and they got along very well. She wasn't sure if it would lead anywhere, but she was 'playing it by ear' for now. He wasn't available last weekend and that's why he hadn't come to the family gathering.
"Now that's it, you've used up your quota of questions," she said as she laughed.
When we joined the boys and Kyle in the living room, they were having an animated conversation about various sports topics. He seemed to like kids, and I was warming up to him. I just wished Carol and Katie for that matter, kept me more in the loop. Unfortunately that's what happens when your kids become adults.
We sat in her living room while we got caught up on the week's events. The view from her living room was spectacular, as the expansive bank of windows gave us a great view of Lake Ontario.
"Dad, Kyle and I are going up to the Chalet next week to ski with Katie and Marty. Will you guys have time to join us for a day or two before you fly out?" she asked.
The Chalet she was talking about was a cottage/chalet in Collingwood, which was about an hour and a half away from Toronto. It was a fractional ownership that I had purchased for skiing in the winter and golf in the summer. Collingwood was a big area for skiing as they had some reasonably good hills. I wasn't interested in owning the entire share, so I bought 2 shares of the luxury unit which entitled me to 10 weeks during the year. Two of those weeks were in the summer, and 4 were in the winter months and the others were scattered around the calendar. I shared the weeks with the family.
"We have a busy week getting ready for the trip Carol, so I'm sorry we can't make it. I'm sure you guys will enjoy yourselves," I said as I emphasized the last two words.
During this part of the conversation Sean and Jake were listening intently, without saying a word.
We said our goodbyes and left the two love birds as we made our way to the Hockey Hall of Fame. We were able to take the elevator to the basement and catch the subway as Carol's building was one of the stops on the route.
"Pop, how many bedrooms are in the chalet?" Sean asked.
"So Carol and Kyle will have their own bedrooms?"
"I don't think so Sean."
He paused for a few moments, and I could see that the questions weren't finished.
"So are they ...... ?" he said with a smile.
"They're adults Sean, and as much as I don't like it they're old enough to know what they're doing."
Sean and Jake flashed each other big grins and thank goodness that was the end of the questions.
The Hockey Hall of Fame is an impressive place. It features great displays, and many interactive exhibits. The boys were really excited as we entered through the main doors.
"Bulldog, look at that shooting area over there," Jake said as he started to take off. I reached forward and grabbed his belt and pulled him back.
"Let's try to keep together guys," I said as I reeled him in.
We looked at many of the displays about the past, and I was able to add information about players and teams that wasn't on display. They also had a great time in the interactive shooting and goalie exhibits.
"How come the replica dressing room isn't the Leafs?" Sean asked.
"I'm not sure Sean, maybe it's because the Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cups in history," I said. "Do you know who has the second most cups?"
"The Leafs," Jake quickly said.
"Right, unfortunately the last one was in 1967!"
We saw the Stanley Cup, and spent a few minutes looking at all the teams and player names that were engraved on it. We also saw all the other league trophies such as the Hart Trophy for the League's most valuable player, the Vezina trophy for the top goaltender and the players who had won them.
I stopped at the display honouring Johnny Bower and had the boys read the information.
"He was my hero when I was growing up. He was a great goalie for the Leafs, and was one of the main reasons they won 4 Stanley Cups in the 60's."
"If he's still alive, maybe the Leafs should get him to play Goal next year," Jake said as we all laughed.
"He's still alive, but I think he's a little old. He's even older than me!"
They both giggled at that statement.
"Come on over here boys and look at this," I said as I stopped in front of the University Cup.
"This is awarded to the University Hockey champions. See the winner in 1970," I said as I pointed to the cup.
"The University of Toronto Varsity Blues," Sean said.
"Uncle Rick and I were on the team that they beat in the final series."
It was as if I had been elevated to rock star status, as the boys were quite impressed with my revelation.
We had spent most of the afternoon there and I knew that they were getting hungry, as we had gone more than 3 hours without a big meal. The two hotdogs each, French fries and bottled waters apparently were considered a snack.
"What are we doing for dinner pop?" Sean asked.
"So I guess that means we're finished here?" I said as I chuckled.
We walked to our next destination, and the whole time the boys were pumping me as to where we were going.
"I'll give you a hint. It's a restaurant owned by a famous hockey player."
When we arrived at Wayne Gretzky's, the boys were really excited. They spent the first 20 minutes looking at the memorabilia on the walls and amazingly forgot about their hunger. Sean also enjoyed looking at the very attractive waitresses.
"Are we ready to go?" I asked.
"We just got here," Sean said with an incredulous look on his face.
"We can't stay if you don't order some food and we can't order some food if you guys don't look at the menus."
Finally they remembered their empty stomachs and we had a great meal.
We made our way back to Carol's condo to pick up the Lexus to drive home. I noted that the BMW was still in her parking space and thankfully the boys didn't make any comment or ask anymore questions.
When we arrived back at the townhouse, I told Jake I wanted him to check in with his uncle. I didn't want Pietro to worry.
"Are you Catholic Jake?" I asked.
"Yes sir, why?"
"I want you to ask your uncle if it's alright if you go to a protestant church with us tomorrow. If your uncle objects we can make some other arrangements."
He called and took about 10 minutes to tell his uncle about the day's activities ..... in detail. His uncle said it was alright with him if he went with us to church.
By now it was about an hour away from my league game, so I went down to get my equipment ready. The boys followed me, and Jake was fascinated. He tried on my gloves, put my pads up to his legs, and tried on my chest protector/arm pads.
"Wow, this stuff is cool. That mask is awesome," he said with wide eyes.
Finally, after I wrestled my equipment away from Jake, I got my bag packed and we headed off to the rink. When we got there, I gave Sean and Jake some money for snacks and the arcades, and went off to get changed.
Rick was already there and changing into his equipment.
"Here Al, I think you've been waiting for this," he said as he gave me a package.
I opened the package and it was Sean's passport.
"I don't know how you did it Rick, and I'm not going to ask. Thanks"
"It helps to have friends in high places," he said as he laughed.
The game was a good one, as this was a playoff game. We won 3-2 and moved into 3rd place in the round robin play downs.
"Hey Burgs, great game. Two more and we get into the semi-final."
"Thanks Bateaux, are you buying the beer tonight?" I said as I laughed.
We always went to the same pub 5 minutes away from the rink. This is the pub that we were minutes away from going to the night we found Sean. I reflected on how fate had brought us together, and how happy I was with him now being a part of my life.
The pub was full and our team got a table and ordered some beer. I intended to stay for just a quick one as the boys were with me. I ordered the boys some bottles of Perrier sparkling water and we sat down. Dénis Bateaux had brought his son Stéphane along as well and he was also 13 years old . Sean, Jake and Stéphane struck up a conversation and I could see that they were getting along very well. I was very pleased at that, as Stéphane was a very well-rounded and popular boy. The guys made the boys feel at home, and involved them in the trash talking. After about 20 minutes, Rickie came over to our table, as he was there with his girlfriend and others.
"Hey little Bro, who's your friend?" Rickie said to Sean.
Rickie already knew Stéphane, so Sean just introduced him to Jake and Rickie invited the three of them to sit at his table until it was time to go.
Sean was the chatty one on the way home in the Lexus, as he thought Rickie's girlfriend was quite good looking. Jake didn't say too much, but agreed with Sean.
"Time to get ready for bed guys. Church is at 9 tomorrow, so you guys have to get more sleep tonight."
I got them tucked in, and I could see they were exhausted as I was.
"Good night guys, and remember up at 8 am. Go to sleep."
I wasn't that religious a person, but I did attend church on an infrequent basis. Lorraine was more of a regular church goer than I was, but when we did attend we usually took the earlier contemporary service.
The contemporary service at All Saints United church featured a live 5 piece band/ensemble, singers and modern Christian themed songs. It was very casual, and no one wore jackets or dresses. Many people wore jeans. The Minister Randy MacLaughlin gave a short but less biblical sermon, which I usually found insightful and interesting.
"So guys, this is a little different from regular church. It's not as formal ..... and not as long."
"Do we have to kneel and cross ourselves like in my church?" Jake asked.
"No, but we pray and sing hymns and have a sermon just like yours."
We sat in a pew about half-way back of the church and waited for the service to start. I noticed when we sat down, Sean crossed himself.
"Sean, are you catholic?"
He whispered, "I don't know, why?"
"You just crossed yourself, that's what they do in the Catholic Church."
He explained that he had only been in church 2 times, and his mother told him that's what he had to do when he entered church.
"After the service is finished you tell me if you want to go to this church or a Catholic church. Rickie is Catholic, and he would gladly take you, if that's what you want."
He nodded his head and by then the service started.
Both boys enjoyed the service, and seemed to find the sermon interesting. Reverend MacLaughlin was talking about tolerance and not pre-judging people.
We were mingling in the foyer before lining up to shake the minister's hand before we left. One of my Tim Horton's partners Dave and his wife made their way over to speak to us.
"Good morning Al. Which one of these handsome young men is soon to be your son?" Barbara, Dave's wife asked.
I introduced Sean and Jake to both of them, answered Barbara's question and had a short conversation with them about our plans for the March break.
When we had finished talking to Dave and Barbara, Stéphane made his way over to talk to the boys.
"How's it going guys? Did you make it through the service without falling asleep?" he said to Sean and Jake as he laughed. "I wanted to know if you two wanted to hang out at the teen centre this afternoon with me and some of my friends, if it's alright with your pop."
I was very happy at the invitation as I knew that Stéphane and his friends were great kids. The boys agreed and I heartily endorsed the invitation.
"We're going to the gym after church, but I can drop the boys off at 2:00. Is that timing Ok?" I asked Stéphane.
He agreed and said goodbye to the boys and left.
We were just making our way up to the front of the line to shake hands with Reverend MacLaughlin when Serena Lang, a teacher in our board, came up to us.
She looked at Sean and Jake with contempt and said, "What are you two inner city kids doing here? We don't want your kind in this church!"
Here are the links to The Hockey Hall of Fame and Gretzky's