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Monday's tutoring session with Diego was a little different. All students in Ontario schools are required to take French through to high school, and we hadn't done any work on that in any of our sessions. Diego's second major was languages, and he was fluent in French so he was a lot better at tutoring French than I was. I could speak and understand the language, but I really wasn't comfortable tutoring Sean. Diego and I had decided that we needed to do a little work on that before he went back into the regular classroom.
"Bonjour, comment ça va Sean?" Diego said. (Hello, how's it going Sean)
"I ... I'm fine," he said hesitantly, as he was caught off guard.
"Et en Français," Diego countered back. (And in French)
"I think I need a lesson Diego," he said as he chuckled.
They went off to the den, and I felt a little better that he at least knew what Diego had said, even if he couldn't speak French back to him.
While they were having their session, I had a busy morning changing plans for our trip. I was so glad Sean had a buddy on the trip, and I was looking forward to spending more time with Jake. I found Jake's naiveté refreshing and he was a good natured kid ..... and very easy to tease.
I was able to make all the arrangements in about an hour, as things fell into place. The golf school at the club had room, and was quite glad to accept Jake's registration. The extra Blue Jays ticket was also no problem, as it was not reserved seating, but first-come first-served, and it hadn't sold out as of yet. The travel agent was also able to get me an extra 3 day pass for Disney World, and everything was set up.
"Bonjour Pop. Nous sommes ..... finis maintenant," Sean said as he smiled as they were coming out of the Den. (Hello pop. We are now finished.)
"Est-ce que veux-tu un snack?" I asked. (Do you want a snack)
After the snack Diego and Sean went to have the second part of their session. It was now about 11 in the morning and I received a call from Katharine.
"I don't want to alarm you Uncle Al, but Sean's Grandfather was into the office this morning. We didn't know he was coming; for that matter we didn't know he was found."
She told me she had been in the interview for her old boss' position and one of her colleagues talked to him. She said that her colleague described him as a pretty rough looking character and he wanted to know where Sean was and when he could take him with him. Naturally Sean's whereabouts weren't disclosed. Needless to say I wasn't very happy at this news.
"There are a lot of steps that have to happen before the Grandfather would ever get custody. We don't even know if this person really is his Grandfather. I've got our investigative branch on it," Katharine said, as she tried to calm me down.
"Please call me when you know something Katharine. You have my Cell number?" I asked.
"Try to relax Uncle Al. Even if he is legitimate, and passes our investigation, the fact that he hasn't been in his life for a long time and lives out of the Province is in your favour if it goes to court."
I asked her if I could have Joe Hoskins my private detective get the information on the Grandfather from her and she said yes. After we hung up I called Joe and gave him the lowdown and asked that he do some digging.
"A bientôt Sean," Diego said as was putting on his coat to leave. (See you soon Sean.)
By now it was time to have a quick lunch and meet Jake at Lou's.
"Wow, was that ever neat, being picked up by a limo at school!" Jake said with a wide eyed look as we entered the store.
"Well, another handsome young man Mr. Burger. Is this a relative also?" Lou said as he was being careful this time not to put his foot in his mouth.
"This is Giacomo, but he likes to be called Jake," I said.
"Ciao. Come sta giovanotto?" Lou said. (Hi how are you young man.)
"Bene grazie Signore," Jake replied. (Fine thank you sir.)
As I guessed, Jake was fluent in Italian, and the two of them had a short conversation while Sean and I watched.
"Your Italian is very good young man. I hope you keep up your language as you grow older." Lou then turned, smiled at us and said, "I'm sorry if we left you two out."
I told him that Jake was a friend of Sean's and that he was going to go to Florida with us. He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face, and I knew he was wondering why I was paying for an expensive suit for a friend of my foster son.
"It's a long story Lou. Some day I'll tell you," I said with a smile on my face.
Lou brought out the two suits he had picked out and Jake tried them both on. One was a Hugo Boss, and the other was an Armani. All of us thought the Banker Grey pinstripe Armani was the better fit and looked very sharp against his olive skin.
"It's fitting; an Italian suit for an Italian boy," Lou said as he chuckled.
We picked out a shirt, tie, and shoes for Jake and Lou said the suit would be ready tomorrow, as there wasn't as much alteration needed as there was with Sean's. Lou then brought out Sean's suit for him to try on.
"Mr. Burger, you're going to have to get a big stick to keep the girls away from this young man," Lou said with a smile as he helped Sean put on the suit jacket.
He looked fantastic. The suit fit him like a glove, and accentuated his sandy blond hair and fair complexion. He thought so too, as he was beaming.
As we were going to the cash to pay, Jake happened to glance down at the price tag on his suit and blurted out, "A thousand bucks!"
He stood there with his mouth open and was speechless, which was quite a feat for him. I glanced at Sean, and he had a similar expression on his face.
I didn't want to embarrass them so I smiled and quickly said, "Both the suits were on sale for a really great price Jake .... aren't they Lou."
Lou picked up on what I was trying to do and said as he smiled at them, "Yes .... a really great price."
"Just worry about how you two are going to keep the girls from tearing them off of you," I said as I tried to divert their attention.
We sent Jake off in the limo, and as we were walking to the Lexus with a garment bag with Sean's suit and shirt, I could see he was still bothered by the cost of the suits.
"They weren't on sale, were they?"
"Sean, I know it was a lot of money, but I don't spend frivolously. I think you two are worth it," I said as I smiled at him. "Don't you?" I said as I put my arm around his shoulders and squeezed him closer to me.
"Thanks Pop," he said as he smiled back at me.
We arrived a little early for Sean's appointment with Phil. Mrs. Gallagher greeted Sean and as usual, fussed over him when we walked into Phil's office. Again she offered him some candy, but he politely refused and said he would have one when he was finished with his appointment. I guess my harping about good nutrition was finally sinking in.
Phil came out into the waiting room and said, "Well Sean, are you ready for your deprogramming session?"
We both looked at him with puzzled looks on our faces as neither of us could figure out what he was talking about.
"I'm going to make you into a Montréal Canadiens fan young man," he said as he laughed at the two of us.
"You know it looks like you're putting on some pounds. Is he finally feeding you some real food instead of that health food stuff?" Phil said as he chuckled and put his two hands on Sean's waist, squeezed his love handles and led him into his office.
While they were in their session I went over to the school to check on Sean's timetable for when he started back into the classroom after the March break. I wanted to make sure his timetable was as Gord Caudle, the Principal and I had put together. There were no problems, and I got back to Phil's office just as they were finishing.
Phil told Sean to wait in the waiting room while he talked to me.
"Remember, the warden's got her eyes on you, so don't get any ideas about taking off on us," he said as he laughed at Sean.
He ushered me into his office and I sat down. He didn't have that awful serious look like last week, so I was thankful I wasn't going to be put on the spot again.
"Do you notice a change in Sean this week?" he asked.
"Yes I do Phil. He seems to have developed a quiet confidence," I said.
He agreed with me, and said that was probably because of his sense of security.
"He's never had this level of stability in his life, and I think that quiet confidence is as a result of your fine work with him," Phil said with a very satisfied smile on his face.
He told me his demeanour was very similar to mine, in that he was very introspective and didn't waste energy on small talk. This was something that surprised me, but the more I thought about it, I felt Phil was right. We were very much alike.
"If I didn't know better, I would swear that boy is from your gene pool," he said as he chuckled.
"Except for the blond hair and blue eyes Phil," I said as I laughed.
"I've got to tell you Al, Sean is quite the perceptive young man. He takes in everything whether you know it our not," he said as he continued.
"Tell me about it Phil, I just had a reminder of that about 2 hours ago," I said as I related the incident at Lou's where Sean had figured out our little deception about the price of the suits.
"For example, he told me about the church service yesterday, and what the sermon meant to him," Phil went on.
He told me how Sean was able to relate in his own words what the minister said to some of his life experiences.
"And what's with that Ms. Lang? He told me some of what happened, including your 'telling her off' as he put it. You know, as much as you're being very protective of Sean, he feels the same towards you."
Phil went on to explain that Sean felt badly that I got so mad because I was defending him and Jake.
"Do you think I'm being overly protective of him Phil?" I asked.
"Well at this point I understand why you've been reacting the way you have been, but I think it's probably time to give him some more space."
We talked about some of the role models I had hooked him up with such as Rickie, Diego and Stéphane. I also told him how I had left him yesterday for a couple of hours with Jake, Stéphane and Stéphane's friends at the Teen Centre and how Jake and he had gone to the show together alone.
"That's exactly what you need to do more of and I can't think of a better kid than Stéphane to have him associating with," he said. "What do you think of Jake?"
I told him a bit about his background and that he was going to Florida with us.
"They're exact opposites, as Jake is very uninhibited and outgoing. He loves to talk .....a lot," I said as I chuckled.
"They've been through a lot together, probably more than you realize. Sean sees him as his best friend; someone he can trust," Phil said.
I asked him about the teddy bear and t-shirt.
"Both of those items represent the few positive aspects of what he refers to as his 'former life'. They're a link back to the good part of his childhood, as he's blocked out the bad part. He's a mentally strong kid to be able to do that."
He told me that both items came from his grandmother who died some years back. She was the only positive family influence that had been in Sean's past.
"Did he talk about his grandfather at all?" I asked.
"Not in very glowing terms. Why?"
I told him what had transpired about the grandfather and that he had shown up this morning wanting to take Sean away.
"I hope you're going to fight that in court if it comes to it. That would be one of the worst things that could happen to him. If it gets to that, I'll testify how damaging that would be. What little Sean told me about him, is not very positive," he said with a serious look.
I asked him what he thought about Sean going to see his mother.
"I'm Ok with it, especially since Sean made the decision to go see her and you'll be there with him. The best way I can explain it is that it's almost like his mother has died. It's Like when someone is grieving, viewing the body in the funeral home brings a sense of closure. That's what's happening with Sean and his mother. Sean feels he needs to see her one last time."
We had been talking for awhile, and I didn't want to get Sean alarmed, so I suggested we wrap up.
"You've got a real gem there," he said as he smiled, got up and walked over to me. "I've got some important advice for you Al."
He paused and looked at me and smiled. I was waiting for him to continue and finally he said as he grabbed my arm, "Keep doing what you're doing with that young boy. I'll see you and your son after you come back."
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the townhouse and made our way over to the Library for the After School Club session.
The boys arrived with their mother and another boy that looked to be Pardeep's age. Sean and I walked over to greet them. The mother said that the new boy's name was Subash, and that he was a friend of Pardeep's and in the same grade.
"Welcome boys. Why don't you go with Sean to the table and get started," I said.
Pardeep moved around to Sean's side and took his hand again. As they were moving away to go to the table, Subash moved to the other side of Sean and took his other hand. Sean was surprised, but obviously enjoyed the affection, as he looked at both of them with a big smile on his face.
The mother and I had a short chat while they settled into the session. She told me that both Pardeep and his brother Paresh really liked Sean, and got a lot out of the last session. Both of them had had math tests during the week that they did considerably better on than they had all year. Pardeep had encouraged his friend Subash to come with him this week, as Subash was also having difficulty in Math.
"Your grandson really knows math good," she said in her East Indian accent.
I didn't bother to correct her about my 'grandson' and thanked her for her endorsement.
Sean felt really good again after the session.
"They wanted to know if I could come and teach them at their school," he said as he had a big smile on his face.
He told me how they had shown him their tests that they took this week. He was really pleased as some of what he taught at the last session was on the tests. The boys got all those questions correct.
"They're really funny little guys. I'm really happy they did so goo....well," he said as he quickly corrected himself.
"I'm glad you did so goo.....well with your grammar young fellow," I said as I smiled at him.
When we arrived home after the session, we had a little something to eat and retired to the living room with our tea. I realized I hadn't told him about our appointment at the dentist the next morning.
"Sean, we're going to see the dentist tomorrow to have him clean and look at your teeth. When was the last time you were at a dentist?" I asked.
He told me that it was years ago, and he wasn't very happy with going tomorrow. It seems he hadn't had very good experiences at the dentist his mother took him to. At one visit, the guy pulled one of his baby teeth without any freezing. The nurse had to hold him down while the butcher yanked it out.
"Dr. Hill isn't anything like that Sean," I said trying to reassure him.
He calmed down, as he was becoming more trusting of me and realized that I wouldn't take him to anyone like his old dentist.
The busy day was now catching up with both of us as we were tired. The two of us just vegged in front of the TV, with neither of us really paying a lot of attention to the programs.
"Aren't the Breast Cancer bracelets pink?" he asked out of the blue as he looked at my right wrist.
"Blue bracelets are for Prostate Cancer," I answered.
"Do you know someone with Prostate Cancer?" he asked.
"Yes I do Sean."
When I didn't say anything else he looked at me for a few moments and then his eyes opened wider and he said, "Do you have Cancer Pop?"
I was wondering when we were going to have this discussion, and I could see by his body language that he was getting very anxious.
"Ok, calm down. I was treated 3 years ago and my cancer's almost gone," I said as I put my arm around him and brought him into my side.
I decided to tell him a shortened version about my treatment and I told him I had radioactive seeds implanted into my prostate, and it took a few years before it killed all the cancer. He seemed better after I explained it to him and he relaxed a little.
"So you're not going to die?" he asked with a fair bit of concern in his voice.
This conversation woke me up to something I hadn't taken care of. If I did suddenly die, Sean would not be financially provided for.
When Sean went to bed I did some research as to the best and quickest way to handle the problem, as I wanted this taken care of the next day. I had finished all the educational requirements for my Certified Financial Planner designation, but had not practiced in the business, as this was something I planned on doing when I retired. When the job with the board came up I put this on hold. The lottery win of course put that permanently to bed.
Since I didn't have Sean's birth certificate yet, I couldn't set up a formal trust fund for him. Katharine had applied for it but it would take weeks to arrive. However, I could set up a bank account for him in trust, and that's what I decided to do. I would call my financial services representative at the Personal Wealth Management division of the bank tomorrow to set this up. I knew there would be no problem given the amount of my assets I had with them.
I would also call my lawyer and see what else could be done quickly to provide financial security for him.
I felt good about my decisions and I knew that I would have a good sleep that night. I looked in on Sean on my way to my bedroom, and all I could see above the covers was his sandy blond hair and his arm which was wrapped around Teddy.
I was just about to get into bed when the phone rang. I quickly picked up the phone on the night table beside my bed so as not to waken Sean.
"Is this Burger?" a very raspy voice on the other end barked.
"Yes, who is this?" I asked.