Monday morning I had three important items on my agenda. The first was to get appointments for all the boys to get physicals. I rushed to work and got there about a quarter of nine. That gave me barely enough time to call Dr. Sam’s receptionist to set up the appointments. Thankfully I was able to get them set up for Thursday morning first thing at nine.
The second item was to hold the meeting with the consultants to inform them of the sale of the business. I expected there would be some consternation from the staff and I was right. After I made the announcement there was complete silence for a few seconds and them it was pandemonium. It seemed that the 26 consultants that were present in the room were all speaking at once. I couldn’t hear the other 17 on the conference call for the commotion in the room.
When I finally got order restored, I started taking questions one at a time alternating between the room and the conference call. Most of the questions centered around job security. I reassured them that they would be given the opportunity to stay on for at least a year. That satisfied the majority of the questions but the meeting continued for almost an hour and a half before most of them were satisfied. I left them with the invitation to come see me or to call me if they had any more questions that came up later. I would try to make myself available to them as much as possible.
When I returned to my office I called the symphony business office. I told the receptionist what I wanted and she transferred me to Fritz Schlather. Fritz was the business manager for the symphony. I had known him since I had a season pass the first couple of years I was in San Antonio.
"Crane, it’s good to hear from you again. I am remiss for not calling and thanking you personally for your generous contribution this year. How have you been? We haven’t seen you at any concert recently."
"I'm well, thanks. Look Fritz, what I'm calling for is to see if you have any tickets available for Saturday's performance. If you do, I would like to have two."
"We always hold back a few tickets for last minute patrons and I just happen to have a pair. You will have to share a box with the Dills if that is alright."
"That would be fine. I have served on a couple of committees with Jason and Rebecca. They are good people."
"We are also hosting a gourmet dinner at the Rodeo Club if you are interested. It starts at six and costs $125 per couple. If you want I can reserve a couple of spots for you."
"That sounds great. I haven't been to the Rodeo Club in probably four or five years. I do remember that they have an excellent chef. Reserve a couple of seats for us. I'll be by to pick up the tickets later today. And thanks Fritz."
After I hung up I called Eric to tell him of the plans.
"What is the dress for the occasion?" he asked.
"You would probably feel most comfortable in a tux," I replied.
"I guess I'll have to go rent one. I haven't worn a tux since I got married. Do you know of a good place to rent one?"
I gave him a couple of suggestions and then hung up.
Throughout the day a few of the consultants stopped by my office to clarify issues that pertained to them individually. Most of the questions were about non-salary items such as health insurance and our tax-deferred savings plan. I was able to answer the majority of the questions but some I had to tell them I would have to find out the answer and get back to them. I was able to get away long enough to pick up the tickets from the symphony office.
As was my habit, I left the office in time to meet the boys' school van when it dropped them off. Only one more day of this before they would be out of school for the summer. It was such a warm afternoon that we decided to take a swim before our supper.
We played a game the boys has made up that they called ‘dodgem'. The rules were simple. We divided into two teams of three players. A volleyball was the weapon. If you were hit by the ball you had to sit on the side of the pool until only one person was left. Since I was the biggest, I was handicapped by being forced to throw the ball with my left hand (I'm right-handed).
One by one the boys were eliminated. First TJ, then Larry, Chris and Lenny followed to the sidelines. Joel and I were the only ones left. He was good at ducking under the water just in the nick of time to avoid being hit by the ball. Our battle went on for several minutes before he faked me out and as I came up from under the water I was hit on the shoulder by the ball.
Joel was immediately surrounded by all the others being hugged and congratulated on his great victory. I joined in the celebration.
We played several more games with Chris and Lenny each being victorious. I did suggest to the boys that they not pick on TJ because he was an easy target and let him stay in the game a little longer. I did this without TJ hearing me tell them. It made him glow with pride when he wasn't the first to retire to the sidelines.
As we exited the pool I noticed that Joel was again breathing hard, much harder than the other boys. When I asked him about it he brushed it off saying he was just tired. It still concerned me and I was determined to bring it up to Sam when we saw him on Thursday.
Tuesday was a complete loss at work. The due diligence team arrived and occupied most of my morning. Two of them descended on Gerald while three others interviewed me, Foster and the other consultants in the office. They looked through all ongoing projects as well as recently completed ones. They planned to be here the rest of the week at least.
I was glad when it came time to go home to meet the boys' van. When I got home I discovered that they were already home. I had forgotten that school was to be dismissed early. They had already changed clothes, washed up and were enjoying their afternoon snack when I entered the house. I expected to get a hug from them but they were too occupied with the strawberry shortcake that Hildy had fixed.
After supper I asked the boys if they wanted me to read to them. The weather outside was turning rather foul so outdoor activities were out. They agreed with enthusiasm. Since we had finished our last book, I chose a new one from my library, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (or The Life and strange and surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe). When everyone was settled with TJ leaning at my side and the others sitting or sprawled on the floor, I began.
I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull: He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family at Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Keutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our Selves, and writer Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me.
I had two elder Brothers, one of which was Lieutenant Collonel to an English Regiment of Foot in Flanders, formerly commanded by the famous Coll. Lockhart, and was killed at the Battle near Dunkirk against the Spaniards: What became of my second Brother I never knew any more than Father or Mother did know what was become of me.
Being the third Son of the Family, and not bred to any Trade, my Head began to be fill'd very early with rambling Thoughts: My Father, who was very ancient, had given me competent Share of Learning, as far as House-Education, and a Country Free-School generally goes, and design'd for the Law; but I would be satisfied with nothing but go to Sea, and my inclination to this led me so strongly against the Will, nay the Commands of my Father, and against all the Entreaties and Perswasions of my Mother and other Friends, that there seem'd to be something fatal in Propension of Nature tending directly to the Life of Misery which was to befal me.
I don't think that TJ really understood the story as I read it. He just liked the idea of being read to and to be able to cuddle up next to me. He did look at the pages as I read and once when I stopped to take a breath he said, "They spell some words funny don't they?"
"Yes they do, but you have to realize that this book was written over 275 years ago and spelling was not as standardized as it is today. They sort of wrote words the way they fancied. It wasn't until years later that dictionaries became more common and tried to have everyone spell words the same."
We got through most of Chapter 1 before I could tell they were getting restless, so I decided that we had enough for the night. Besides I think that they heard Hildy in the kitchen and expected that their snack was being prepared.
Chris again joined me for my swim Wednesday morning. It was my intent to let the boys sleep in since they didn't have to be at school until nine and then only to pick up their report cards. I had only done a few laps when he swam up beside me. He kept up with my reduced strokes for a good ten minutes before he tired. When I noticed that he was beginning to struggle I suggested to him that he go jump in the shower and then wake his brothers. He jumped out of the pool and dried off with my towel and ran to the patio door. When he arrived at the door he turned, flashed me a big smile and waved before entering the house.
Becky Sue arrived at the gate as the boys were about finished eating breakfast. I buzzed her in and made a note to put in a temporary code for her to use so we wouldn't have to let her in every morning.
"Good morning Joel and Chris and TJ. I can tell who you are but you two I'm going to have problems with," she said looking at the twins.
"The easiest way to tell is if you can catch them eating, Larry is right-handed while Lenny is left-handed," I said. "Come to think about it that is not too hard after all. They seem to be eating most of the time."
"Dad!" they both said frowning at me.
"Becky Sue, why don't you stay here with Hildy while I take the boys to school to pick up their report cards? She can familiarize you with the place and show you where everything is. We should be back by around 10:30."
It seemed like every parent had brought their child to the school today. It was difficult finding a place to park. As I drove into an empty spot, Darcie drove into the space beside me. She brought JR because Eric was off early to fly to Dallas and Mary Jane wasn't going to start to work until tomorrow.
The boys grabbed JR and ran off to their classrooms to get their report cards. That gave Darcie and me a chance to talk.
"What are you going to do now that you've left CPS?" I asked.
"I haven't decided what I'm going to do. The wedding plans are taking up most of my time right now but after we get back from the honeymoon I'll have to get serious about looking for a job. Mel would like for me to stay at home. He is a little old fashioned. That's one of the things I love about him. I would like to stay involved with kids. There are so many out there that need help. I can't turn my back on them as if they no longer exist just because I don't work for CPS anymore. I don't know how but I want to help. There must be a job out there that will allow me to do just that."
"I'm sure there is," I said.
We chatted on for about forty-five minutes before the kids started drifting out of the school. The boys didn't immediately come to the van. They were busy saying goodbye to all there friends. Eventually they made their way to where Darcie and I were. They all handed their report cards to me at once. Joel had made the "All A Honor Roll" for the second semester. I was very proud of him and I let him know it with a big hug. The others didn't receive letter grades like the middle school gave. They had received "Excellent" or "Very Good" in all their subjects. Each one in turn got a hug and congratulations as I read their card.
We drove home with the boys all excited that they didn't have to go to school for about three months. It was going to be a hot day and all they could talk about was going swimming when they got home.
"Hey, I don't know guys. Maybe Becky Sue doesn't swim. I never thought to ask her if she did. I'll check with her when we get home. Okay?"
Their response was a half hearted, "Yes, dad."
I didn't need to worry. When we got home I found out that Becky Sue was a Red Cross trained life guard. She had brought her swim wear just in case the boys wanted to go for a dip. Needless to say the boys were thrilled.
As I drove into work a thought began nagging at the periphery of my mind. I really didn't know just what it was until I reached the office and sat down at my desk and gave it a chance to come to the surface. When it did it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.
"Of course!" I thought as I picked up the phone and called first Gerald and then Carlos to set up a meeting for nine Friday morning. I was feeling really good knowing the decision that I had made if only I could make it happen. Gerald and Carlos would have to tell me if I could.
I didn't leave at my usual time since I didn't have to be home to meet the boys when they got off the van. I regretted my delay. The evening rush hour traffic was horrible. It took me a half an hour to get from my office to highway 281 to go home. I vowed that I would not make this mistake again. I had gotten spoiled leaving early with the excuse that I had to meet the boys. Oh well, it wouldn't be that long before I would only be coming into the office five days a month. I suppose I could put up with the traffic for those few days.
Nobody met me as I drove the BMW into the garage except Samson. I scratched his ears and walked in the back door. I greeted Hildy and proceeded toward the family room. As I approached I could hear Becky Sue reading to the boys. TJ was tucked under one of her arms as she read to them from Alice in Wonderland (the real title is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) by Lewis Carroll.
Everyone's attention was fixed on Becky Sue. They didn't notice me until Joel looked up and said, "Hi dad."
I got my usual hugs from them as the reading session broke up. Becky Sue started gathering up her things in preparation for going home.
"Well, how was your first day?" I asked her.
"I think it went very well. We had our swim and the boys showed me around the property. I didn't know that boys could eat like they do. They said that you read to them sometimes so I decided it would be a good idea to do that also. You have such a great library. I hope you don't mind that I got one of your books."
"No, feel free to use any of the books that I have in there. The boys really like having someone read to them. And by the way, I have to take the boys in to get their physicals tomorrow morning and I would like for you to watch them in the reception area while I'm in the exam room with them."
The boys walked Becky Sue to her car and each one gave her a hug before she left. As she drove away TJ wrapped his arms around my waist and started sniffling.
"What's wrong, son?" I asked very concerned.
"She makes me think of my mommy," he sobbed. "Can we go see mommy again? Please?"
My heart nearly broke as I answered him in a choked up voice, "Sure we can. How about if we go tomorrow after we get done at Dr. Sam's?"
"Okay," he said wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.
I talked to Hildy about TJ's reaction to Becky Sue. She didn't think it was too unusual seeing that his mother was only a few years older than her and did resemble her somewhat. She thought that TJ would get over it in a few days but thought that it was a good idea to visit the grave site again.
TJ seemed to need a little more loving than usual. He needed to be in constant touch with either Hildy or me. He sat on my lap as we watched a "Peanuts" special on TV before I sent them off to shower and get ready for bed.
We left for Dr. Sam's office as soon as Becky Sue arrived. I had remembered to give her a code so she could get in without us activating the gate. TJ was the first to give her a big hug. Fortunately the traffic was not too bad and we arrived at Sam's office just a few minutes before nine. Finding a parking place was the worst part about having to go all the way downtown for anything during the day.
I filled out all the paperwork for everyone except Joel. His file was already thick with all the tests that he had been through over the past months. The other boys had not been seen by Sam as patients.
Joel was the first to be examined. Dr. Sam did all the usual tests. When he got to the point where he was listening to Joel's chest and breathing I told him of my concerns about Joel's shortness of breath.
"Well, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Joel has grown almost two inches in height and gained thirteen pounds since the first day he was here. It is not unusual for a growth spurt to have that effect on a young boy. He has also entered into puberty which could cause some of that. I'll have a few extra tests run on his blood sample to see if anything has changed since the last one. If that doesn't show up anything we could put him through an allergy series."
TJ wanted to be next. I don't think he had ever had a physical like Dr. Sam was giving him. He was having a great time until it came to take the blood sample. He was having no part of the needle. No amount of coaxing could convince him that it wouldn't hurt. Finally I went to the waiting room and got Joel hoping that he could convince TJ that it would be alright and not hurt.
It took Joel a few minutes but he succeeded in convincing TJ to let Sam draw the blood. Joel held one of his hands and I held the other. When it was over and Sam put a Band-Aid on his arm he wore it like a merit badge showing it off to his brothers in the waiting room. He did snuggle up to Becky Sue after his bravado wore off.
Larry and Lenny wanted to have their physicals together which was not surprising to me. They giggled like a couple of little girls through most of it. When it came time for the blood sample Larry could not watch while his or Lenny's was drawn. Lenny on the other hand was fascinated with the process asking Sam all kinds of questions and watched intently as Larry's and then his own sample was drawn.
Chris' physical went off with out a hitch. The whole process for all five of the boys took nearly two hours. I could tell that they were getting restless so I suggested that we go get an early lunch. That met with thunderous approval.
Becky Sue and I herded the boys a couple of blocks down the street to a Tex-Mex cafe which I knew was a good place to eat and was friendly to kids.
As we sat down the waiters began bringing an endless supply of tortilla chips and salsa. They had no sooner set one basket of chips down when it was inhaled. It wasn't long before the waiters learned and began bringing four baskets of chips at a time and an equal amount of salsa.
We consumed an enormous amount of food between the seven of us. I must admit I did my share of the eating. I always liked Tex-Mex food. I think Becky Sue was amazed at the amount of food the boys were able to put away. By now I was used to it. Of course we had to have the obligatory praline as we left the restaurant.
"Are we still gonna go see mommy?" TJ asked.
"Can we take her some flowers?" he asked.
"I think that would be a good idea. There is a flower shop a couple of blocks over and I think we could do with the walk after all that food," I said.
The large array of flowers that were on display at first overwhelmed the boys. TJ was the first to arrive at a decision as to what he wanted to get. "Can we get these white ones?" he asked pointing to the carnations.
That brought immediate acceptance from the other sons.
Joel thought for a minute and then asked, "Maybe we could add four red ones? One for each of us?"
"Why don't we add a pink one for Chris? Your mom was not his but you are his brother now. Is that okay?"
TJ ran to Chris, gave him a hug and shook his head to indicate yes. I looked at Becky Sue and saw she was just barely holding back the tears. She is going to fit in just fine, I thought, because she wears her heart on her sleeve like the rest of us do.
We waited while the lady behind the counter assembled the dozen white, four red and one pink carnation into a beautiful arrangement with ferns and babies breath. TJ insisted on carrying the bouquet to start with but soon relinquished it to Joel after a couple of blocks.
It was rather quiet as we drove to the cemetery. It was either their full stomachs or the anticipation of seeing their mother's grave again and reinforcing the fact that she was dead.
I parked the van as close to the grave site as I could but we still had to walk a ways to it. As we approached her plot, Chris began to hold back. It was then that I realized that he may never have been to a cemetery before let alone visited a place where a person was actually buried.
The other four walked up to their mother's headstone and placed the flowers at the base. I put my arm around Chris as he watched his brothers talk to their mother's monument as if she were there listening to them.
"Son, your brothers loved their mother very much. She loved them also. It makes them feel good to come and talk to her. Do you understand?"
"Uh-huh," he said quietly as he slipped out from under my arm and went up to the headstone.
As he touched the headstone I heard him say in a voice barely above a whisper, "I wish you was my mom. Maybe you would have loved me too."
I nearly lost it right then and there. Becky Sue did. She rushed back to the van wiping the tears from her eyes as she went.
When the boys were finished we headed back to the van, Joel with his arm around TJ's shoulder and Larry and Lenny on either side of Chris with there arms around him.
Since it was getting late I decided to call Carol and tell her that I would not be in today at all. I had planned to go to the office this afternoon. She said that everything was fine at the office but that there were a couple of emails that I should look at. Everything else could wait until tomorrow.
Friday morning was going to be hectic. I had the meeting with Gerald and Carlos as well as a final meeting with the due diligence team before they went back and reported their findings.
I was nearly late for the nine o'clock meeting with Gerald and Carlos. They were waiting for me when I arrived. "Sorry, guys, there was an accident on 281 that had traffic backed up for miles. It seemed like the police were doing everything in their power to prevent traffic from moving long after Air Life had taken the accident victims away. Let me get a cup of coffee and I'll be right with you."
Carlos followed me to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup also.
"How's everything going with the sale? Any problems working out the contract?"
Carlos responded, "No everything seems to be going smoothly so far. We are beginning to refine the language of the contract. I would guess that all the details should be worked out by the end of next week or early the following week."
"On the financial side," Gerald began, "the one area which still needs to be worked out is how to allocate the profits of the company that have accrued to you prior to the end of June but have not been realized. I have been working with one of their accountants and I think we are close to agreement. I don't see that it could hold up the sale though."
"Good," I said. "Just how much will I realize from the sale after taxes?"
"That's hard to say exactly but my best estimate is Uncle Sam will take about 22% of the proceeds above your basis for the company. I estimate your basis to be about $4.5 million so that means the taxes will be about $2.2 million. Your net should be about $12.3 million. Now that does not count your drawing account that you have not touched this year. The taxes have already been paid on it so it is yours unencumbered. It amounts to nearly $275,000. By the time we allocate those unrealized profits you should receive something around $12.6 million give or take."
"Thanks Gerald that is what I needed to know," I said taking a deep breath before continuing. "Here is what I want the two of you to help me with. I want to set up a tax exempt foundation for the purpose of helping children like my sons to get adopted. I want to call the foundation ‘Adoption Services for Exceptional Children' or ASEC. I will provide yearly grants to couples or individuals who would not normally consider adoption because of their financial situation but would provide loving homes if money were not a consideration. I intend to seed the foundation with $10 million to start with. What do you think?"
They both sat there with open mouths and disbelieving looks on their faces before Gerald recovered enough to say, "You mean you are going to give away $10 million just like that?"
"Gerald, you know my finances even better than I do. You know that I can afford it. It will probably help with my tax situation also."
"Crane," Carlos said, "who is going to run this foundation? When do you need it set up? Are you crazy?"
"I will be in charge over all. I have someone in mind to run the day to day operations but I haven't approached them about the job yet. I also have a second person in mind to act as a consultant to the foundation. Second, I would like it set up and ready to go by the first of August. And to answer your last question, yes I probably am.
"I will be the chairman of the board and I would like for each of you to serve with me if you have no objections. I will receive a salary of $1 per year. As directors you will receive compensation for your time at your standard rates or whatever you deem to be fair."
"Crane, I would be honored to serve on the board," Gerald said. "If serving does not require extensive absences from my business I too would be willing to receive the $1 salary."
"I echo Gerald," Carlos said.
"Thanks, I was hoping I could count on you," I said. "I hope that I can invest the seed money in some fairly safe corporate bonds that will give a return of about 10%. That would give us about $1 million to deal with each year less any salaries and other expenses."
We tossed around a few more ideas before the meeting finally broke up. After they left I called the two people I wanted to be part of the foundation and asked if they would stop by the house Saturday afternoon around one to discuss a proposition that I had for them. Despite their questions, I wouldn't reveal what I had in store for them.
Later in the afternoon I met with the due diligence team before they returned with their recommendations. From what I could determine from them, the results were most favorable. In fact some of the team seemed down right excited about the proposed purchase.
On the way home I started to get excited about what was going to happen tomorrow not only with the foundation but the ‘date' with Eric.