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The next week the boys were going off to Camp Northern Woods and Dana and I needed to help them get packed and ready. They were excited about going as neither of them had ever been to camp before. Dana joined me on the upper deck after helping Sean and was exasperated.
"Honestly, that son of yours, Al."
She was helping Sean get the things ready for his laundry basket that needed to be washed that he was going to take. Apparently Sean didn't quite have a good handle on what the camp experience would be like.
"He was going to take two t-shirts and one pair of non-dress shorts and the rest was his preppy clothes, including a long sleeved button down shirt! He said he wanted to look good at night by the campfire. And of course, he thought one change of underwear would last him the week."
Then she went on about Jake.
"He was a little better, but he wasn't going to take pyjamas. He gave me a sly little grin and said he didn't need them. I reminded him that it was a co-ed camp and that you never knew who was looking in the windows of the cabin in the mornings."
I laughed and told her that the only time Jake wore pyjamas was when she was staying over.
"That boy belongs in a nudist colony," she said as she frowned.
We also had a tussle with the two of them about taking and wearing their Invisalign mouth pieces.
"Can't we take a week off, Dad?" Sean whined as the two of them had joined Dana and me on the deck.
"We don't want to look like a couple of nerds," Jake said as he added to the chorus.
We reminded them that there would be many kids with metal braces that wouldn't have the luxury of only wearing them for 12 hours a day as they had. We also figured that there was an ulterior motive to their objections.
"You can still make out with them in your mouths. I'm sure Melissa and Rachel aren't going to mind," I said as I laughed.
That finally shut them up. Dana and I laughed as the two of them turned beet red. I regretted the comment as soon as I said it though, as I didn't want them to be mistaken into thinking that I was encouraging any sexual activity from them. I didn't want to put any ideas in their heads even though I was pretty sure I was safe for a while from having to worry about that... I hoped. Even though the supervision at the camp was very good, there would always be opportunities for them to be alone with the girls. I decided to have a heart-to-heart with them later to clarify my expectations.
I took the boys to their music lesson that evening. When we got there I told Colin to get the boys to show him the song they had put together. When I came back to pick them up Colin had the two of them together and they were playing 'Lyin' Eyes' for him. Colin gave them lots of praise when they were finished.
"They tell me they're missing their rhythm guitar player. Why don't you take my guitar and fill in the missing part," he said as he smiled and handed me his acoustic.
This is exactly the type of situation that made me nervous, but after much pleading by the boys I relented. We ran through the song and the boys decided to sing their parts as we played. We managed to make it through the song without stopping, but it wasn't our best effort as we had a few mistakes. Nevertheless, it wasn't too bad. Colin clapped after we were finished and had a big smile on his face. He praised the boys and gave them each a high five.
"I didn't know you could play like that," he said as he looked at me.
He wanted to know why I hadn't tried out for the band for the community theatre productions and I told him I hadn't performed in over thirty-five years. I also told him I had developed a case of performance anxiety and that I even felt uncomfortable playing just for him.
"Well the two boys don't seem to have that problem," he said as he gave them a big smile.
He then told me that he had given them a couple of more interesting songs this week. One they were going to practice together and the other by themselves. He also suggested that I give them a hand learning the bar chords and the introductory finger picking he had taught them, as they would probably struggle a bit with the new techniques.
"I gave them a lot this week, but I know they can handle it. Besides, they have an expert at home to help them," he said as he looked at me and chuckled.
As the boys were putting their guitars in their cases he took me aside and said, "You might want to consider getting them electric guitars. I think they have the ability and they certainly have the desire to play in a band situation. I would recommend a real bass guitar for Jake and regular electric for Sean."
"I think I need to have soundproofing in the house before I do that," I said as I laughed.
On the way home they were very excited about the songs he gave them and they wanted to get going on them as soon as they got into the house. They also discussed how they were going to get Charles and Stéphane involved. They wouldn't tell me what the songs were, as they wanted to surprise me. They wanted to see how much they could do themselves with what Colin taught them before they called me in to help them. When we got in they immediately went down to the Media room to rummage through my CDs to find the songs. They were going to download them to their iPods.
I realized that Colin was right and that maybe that was a good idea to get them electric guitars. I had been giving some thought as to what I could get them for their birthdays that were coming up in September and this would be perfect.
I didn't listen too closely to the 'music', if one could call it that, coming from downstairs. I could hear that the bar chords and finger picking were posing a big challenge to the both of them.
The next day, the boys got a call from Charles. I could tell from the conversation that they were excited about something that Mark had bought for him that day.
"Dad, can you drive us over to Charles? He just got an electronic drum set and he wants to jam," Sean said as he and Jake surrounded me in my chair.
Dana and I smiled at them and I took them and their guitars over to the townhouse. I went in with them to see the new purchase. When Mark opened the door, we could hear Charles banging away from the Media room downstairs. The boys flew down the stairs and Mark and I followed.
"Well let's hear Gene Krupa play," I said as I looked at Charles, as Mark and I chuckled.
The boys just looked at me as if I was an alien, as none of them knew who I was talking about.
"He's one of the most famous drummers of all time," Mark said.
They were still looking at us and finally I said, "Just play Charles."
He wasn't too bad, and he was using most of the kit as he beat out the drum part to 'Lyin' Eyes'... at least I think that's what it was. I could see an instruction book on drumming on the floor beside him and it looked like he had spent some time with it before we arrived.
Mark and I left the boys downstairs and went up to the hallway as I was leaving and would pick up the boys later.
"Colin was able to give us a name of one of his friends who gave drum lessons, and I have Charles signed up. He goes to his first one tomorrow. I'm going to get some ear plugs after I drop him off," he said as he laughed.
He looked much more relaxed than I had ever seen him. I could see that having Charles with him was good for both of them.
"I haven't seen my son this happy for years. I'm praying that I don't have to give him up again."
"Have faith. We'll get things straightened out," I said as I patted him on the back.
After I brought the boys home from golf school the next morning they grabbed a bite to eat that Dana had made for them. They asked me if it was Ok if Charles and Stéphane came over in the afternoon to 'jam' and I said yes. Stéphane was going to use the Clavinova, which I didn't have a problem with, since he was a good player and a responsible boy. I knew he wouldn't abuse the instrument. When the two arrived, Charles took his drum kit downstairs. It was fairly compact and came with a carrying case that made it easy to transport.
Dana and I spent the afternoon at the pool, while they were inside. They had a short swim before they started, then took off into the Media room to practice. After about two hours we were called in for the concert. They had practiced 'Lyin' Eyes' and the new song Colin had given them 'Get Back' by the Beatles. Stéphane took my part on the piano for 'Lyin' Eyes' and he had a major part in 'Get Back'.
"Well done boys," Dana said as we gave an enthusiastic round of applause after they had finished.
All four of them were beaming from ear-to-ear. They actually didn't sound half bad. Stéphane wasn't that comfortable playing things by ear and I could see that he had written out the music for both songs that he was playing, on a sheet of paper. Charles did a very good job on the drum kit, and was thoroughly enjoying himself. I also noticed the dynamic between the boys and it was obvious that Sean was the musical director. He had an excellent ear and was the one putting together the arrangement of the music and keeping them on task.
As if they hadn't had enough music in the afternoon, Sean and Jake spent another hour in the evening after dinner, practicing the other new song Colin had given them, 'If You Could Read My Mind' by Gordon Lightfoot. That was the song that they were both learning on the guitar and that was not for the 'band'. They were able to manage playing the bar chords for the other song, but the finger picking for this one was proving to be more difficult.
"We can't get this, Pop. Colin said he was sure you'd know this song," Jake said to me after they called me down to help them.
I smiled and told them that I had played this many times before they were born. I was able to give them some guidance, and after about a half hour they complained that the finger tips on their left hands were killing them. I smiled as I remembered those days very well.
"You'll develop some tough calluses after a while. Maybe you should pack it in for tonight," I said as I chuckled as I watched them shake their left hands.
The next day, Mark came over in the late morning to join us and the three boys for lunch. After we had eaten, the boys went into the pool and Dana, Mark and I had a chance to talk. Mark asked me some questions about the boys' school, subject choices and the grade 9 program. I could see that he was concerned.
"Charles was talking about something called the Applied level subjects. Apparently that's what he's registered in for next year."
"I was afraid of that," I said as I frowned.
I told him I would try to see if we could find out exactly what he was signed up for. I called over to the school on the off chance that either the Guidance Head or Principal was there, since it was the middle of the summer. I was lucky as the secretary put me through to the Principal, who happened to be Gord Caudle. He had been moved to the Secondary panel which was where he had started his career.
"Why don't you two come over now and I'll go get his OSR (Ontario School Record) to see what his timetable is for first semester."
Dana was there to watch the boys while Mark and I went to the school. When we got to the main office the secretary told us to go to the guidance office as Gord and the Head of Guidance, Lucy Smith, were waiting for us. I introduced Mark to Gord and Lucy and they showed us his option sheet that Marjorie had filled out and the resulting timetable for next year.
"With 185 Grade 8 option sheets we really don't remember too many details, however, I do remember Charles' option sheet," Lucy said as she laid the OSR out on the table for us to see.
She told us that the guidance staff always met with the Elementary staff in June to go over all the Grade 8 option sheets to make sure there were no problems and that selections were appropriate. She remembered that Charles' marks were average and that his intelligence test data didn't indicate the Applied level courses were appropriate. She had contacted Marjorie to suggest a change to the Academic level subjects and that she refused to consider the change.
"She was very snippy, and I didn't care for the way she talked about her son," Lucy said with a disgusted look.
I was now looking at the selections and I couldn't believe what she had signed him up for. Neither could Mark.
"He has little interest in using a saw or hammer, and she signed him up for Woodworking," he said with disgust.
Gord then asked as a formality that Mark provide proof of custody, as they noted the custody arrangement on file in the OSR. Thank goodness he had thought to bring the documentation from CAS and a copy of the restraining order against Marjorie. After they were satisfied with the documentation and had made photocopies for the OSR, the four of us spent the next hour getting his timetable changed to the appropriate classes. We managed to get him in classes where Sean, Jake or Stéphane were and Mark signed him up for Introduction to Business and Music as his options.
"He's always been interested in business like his grandfather, unlike me," he said with a smile.
"I think Music is also a good choice given what we've seen the last couple of days," I said.
I did have one concern after we had put everything together, that couldn't be resolved. Both Jake and Charles would be in the same Business class together with Ms. Trudy Rayner, who had been the bane of my existence when I was teaching. I had been her department head for 5 years and she was a male basher of the first order. She was constantly getting in scrapes with her male students and was a very poor teacher, despite her education.
"When did Ms. Rayner transfer in?" I asked, trying not to give away my disdain.
I had been in education long enough to know that the edubabble Gord and Lucy were using to give me their answer was hiding their true feelings about having her on staff. Unfortunately in a unionized environment, people like Trudy survived despite their toxic personalities. I knew Jake could handle himself, but I was a little leery about Charles. However, there was no other option, and Mark really wanted him to take the subject.
When we got home Dana told Mark that Ray had phoned and that he had the proposal for the new custody arrangement prepared and that there would be a hearing in Judge Steenhof's chambers the next day to consider the changes.
"I'm not looking forward to being in the same room with my ex again, but I guess I'll have to suck it up," Mark said as he gave a big sigh.
The next day Mark, Katharine and I arrived at the courthouse about an hour before the hearing to meet with Ray. Dana, the boys and Charles were coming down later. Charles was to be there so the Judge could talk to him if it was necessary. He didn't want to see his mother and the judge gave him permission to stay in a room near the judge's chambers unless he was called.
"Before we get started on the hearing, Al, I have an offer from the insurance company to resolve Pietro's accident claim. They're anxious to settle, but I still think it's too low."
He told me that they had offered $800,000 but he still felt that it was worth well over a million.
"Look, Ray, I want to get this settled. Tell them I'm willing to go for $900,000 firm," I said.
He agreed that would be appropriate, and that he would inform them by email before we went into the judge's chambers for the hearing. He then outlined his brief that he was going to present in the hearing and the rationale and evidence that had been gathered. All of us were satisfied with what he was going to present, and he coached us as to what to expect during the hearing. We then left the room and went to the Judge Steenhof's chambers about 10 minutes early.
We were all seated in Judge Steenhof's chambers waiting for Marjorie and her lawyer. Katharine, Dean Balderson, the CAS legal counsel, Ray, Mark and I were present. His chambers weren't that big and there wasn't going to be much room for Marjorie and her lawyer when they arrived. After Mark and I explained my role he was comfortable with me being there. Helmut then took the opportunity to talk about the upcoming hearing for Jake.
"I understand we'll be seeing you and your prospective son in the near future, Mr. Burger."
He told me that he was looking forward to the hearing and that he was very pleased with the report that he had received from the mandatory monitoring visit of Sean by CAS that had been filed with his office.
"I'm sorry for the trouble you had to go through during the adoption hearing. You're advocates were certainly right and I now have a somewhat different perspective on these matters," he said as he smiled and looked at Ray.
He told me that the hearing for Jake's adoption should pose no problem, and that he was looking to schedule it in the second to last week of August. I told him that we had a major trip booked to Europe and he looked at his calendar and we agreed to have the hearing the Tuesday after the boys came back from camp. I was glad I finally had a date as I could now work on putting together the family party to welcome Jake into my family as I had done for Sean.
"Those boys certainly are lucky," he said as he smiled at me.
By now Marjorie and her lawyer were 10 minutes late, and Helmut was not pleased. Finally the door opened and in walked Marjorie, her lawyer John Tusak and Gary. They didn't bother to apologize and grabbed some chairs from around the judge's office and pushed their way in front of his desk.
"Well shall we get started," Gary blustered as he pulled out a bunch of papers from his briefcase.
Judge Steenhof hadn't said a word, and was glaring at him the whole time they were getting themselves settled. There was a very awkward silence as I could see his eyes narrow and he leaned forward.
"I can't believe you're here, Mr. Evans. You ignore a restraining order, and almost get in fist fight with Mr. Burger, and you have the gall to show up representing your sister," he said with a very stern voice.
Apparently Helmut had read Katharine's report of the incident that she had filed with the police.
He went on and said, "It's also my understanding that the Law Society revoked your court privileges."
Gary didn't seem fazed and started to counter back.
"I haven't been officially informed of anything of the sort and further....."
Judge Steenhof cut him off and thundered, "Enough!"
He picked up his phone and said, "Send in the bailiff please, at once."
He looked at John Tusak and said, "I hope you're prepared to proceed because Mr. Evans will be leaving very shortly."
Just then the bailiff opened the door and came into the chambers.
"Bailiff, escort Mr. Evans to a holding cell. I'm charging him with contempt."
Gary was speechless for the first time since I had met him. Marjorie's mouth was open and his colleague just looked at him and then Judge Steenhof, with his eyes opened wide.
Gary started to protest but the Bailiff pulled him out of the chair and told him not to resist, or he would call in the reinforcements. I looked at Ray and he had a big smile on his face as he was taken away. Marjorie was another story. She started to squirm in her seat and she then started protesting very forcefully.
"Ms. Evans, I can conduct this hearing without you. It's your choice. But, I strongly suggest you keep quiet unless you're asked to speak," Helmut said as he had leaned forward and was giving her a look that would kill.
After Gary had been taken away, he went on and said, "Now then, let's get this proceeding started."
Ray had prepared a brief asking the court to grant full custody of Charles to Mark, and Marjorie's rights would be limited to supervised visits. John Tusak immediately started into a vigorous defence of Marjorie and basically stated that the original custody arrangement should be restored and remain in place. It was obvious that Gary and he were two peas in a pod, as he manipulated the facts and spun quite a story to try and convince Helmut of his position. I could see Ray was growing very impatient as he had rolled his eyes and was looking at the ceiling. Finally Tusak had finished and there was silence as Helmut was looking at him and wasn't saying a word.
After some moments he cleared his throat and said, "Are you serious, Counselor?"
He then unloaded on him and listed all the facts including the verbal, and physical abuse and the rescinded affidavit that had been filed which tainted the original order. Just then the doors to his chambers opened and his executive assistant peeked in and asked to see him. He was very annoyed, but he could see that she had something very important to say to him and he excused himself and went outside.
Marjorie hadn't said a word to us up to this point, but when Helmut left she turned and sneared at us.
"A child should be with its mother, and the judge knows that. I'm confident he'll come to his senses."
The door opened and in walked two police officers with Helmut, who came over to Marjorie. The one got out a pair of handcuffs and put them on her, while the other told her of the charges against her.
"Marjorie Evans, you've been charged with possession of Cocaine."
We all were stunned, including Marjorie and her lawyer. Neither of them said a word as the officer finished reading her rights to her and then took her away.
After they had left we all sat down and looked to Helmut to see what was next.
"Mr. Mueller, I'm granting full custody of Charles Depew to Mark Depew, and revoking Ms. Evans rights immediately. Mr. Tusak, you'll have to inform your client of my decision. Further, if she wishes to see her son in the future, she will have to demonstrate to this court that she is a responsible parent. This proceeding is adjourned."
We all were very happy when we left Judge Steenhof's chambers.
"Well that's one of the easiest hearings I've taken part in. I'm disappointed, I was looking forward to ripping that bag-of-wind's arguments apart," Ray said as he laughed.
When we got into the hall I turned on my Blackberry and there was a message from Joe Hoskins to call him.
"I told you I had a surprise for you," he said as he chuckled.
He told me that when he had Marjorie under surveillance on the second day, he followed her to the food court in the mall. He saw her talking to a known drug dealer that dealt with an affluent clientele. He was able to video her buying what he thought was Cocaine, and turned it over to the narcotics division of the police. They were able to get a warrant to search her house and found some packets in her bathroom.
"And the rest is history. I think Marjorie is in for quite a rough ride," he said.
"Well that explains a few things. She was never as bad as she's become in the last few years. I guess it was the drugs that made her intolerable," Mark said as he shook his head.
He reached out to me and we shook hands.
"I owe you a great deal of thanks for helping me get my son back," he said as he was getting choked up.
Katharine and I put our arms around him.
"Now stop it, you're going to get the two of us going. Let's go get your son," I said as I smiled and gave him a squeeze.
When he opened the door to the room where Dana and the boys were, he smiled, put out his arms and Charles bounded out of his seat to hug him.
"Let's go wait in the hall, boys and give them some privacy," Dana said.
While we were eating dinner later that day, I told Jake that the hearing date for his adoption had been set. Dana and I were a little surprised that he wasn't more enthusiastic about the news.
"I thought he'd be really excited about finally having things made official. Sean was more excited than he was," she said after the boys had gone downstairs to practice.
"Let's see if we can find out tonight when we put him to bed if there's a problem. Maybe he's just a little nervous about the whole process."
About an hour after dinner Ray phoned to tell me that the insurance company had agreed to the settlement of $900,000. He told me he would be in touch the next week when he had finalized details as to how the money would be paid. I decided not to tell Jake until we had the funds and I had an appointment with David Stratton to set up the trust funds for Sean and him.
When the boys were ready to turn in, Dana and I said goodnight to Sean then went into Jake's room and sat down on the side of his bed.
"You didn't seem all that excited about the news of your hearing. Is there anything wrong?" I asked.
He looked at us and was silent for a couple of moments then shrugged his shoulders.
"Jake, didn't we agree some time ago that you were going to let me know when something was bothering you?"
"I don't want to disappoint you."
I was really concerned as I was thinking the worst that he didn't want to be adopted.
"I'm sure it's nothing that's going to disappoint us," Dana said as she gave him a reassuring smile.
Finally he looked at me and said, "Do I have to change my last name?"
Dana and I were surprised but relieved.
"Of course you don't," I said as I put my hand on his shoulder.
"You want to keep your Italian heritage, don't you?" Dana said as she put her hand on his arm.
He shook his head yes and smiled at us. He told us he had been thinking about this for a couple of weeks, but he didn't know how to bring up the subject. He thought that I'd be mad that he wanted to keep his last name.
"I don't care what last name you have." I then leaned down, kissed his forehead and said, "Goodnight Giacomo Pasquale DiStefano. I love you, Son."
If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lightfoot.
If You Could Read My Mind
The famous Beatles concert on the roof of the Apple headquarters in London, January 1969. This was their last public performance.
Get Back by The Beatles