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The age of fifteen can be peculiar. Too old for the kiddie table yet told still not old enough to join in on the adult conversations. Old enough to now stay up until midnight yet still too young to walk the streets at night alone. A transitioning stage is what JP’s mother had called it, a year to prepare for what lie ahead. A year the teenager couldn’t wait to get through as it met freedom like never before. Dating, driving, a part-time job so he could make his own money.
But this fifteenth birthday was the one his mother said would never be forgotten, for she had something very special to share with him. What could be more important than girls, sitting behind a wheel, having cash in his pocket? After all the candles had been blown out, cake eaten, gifts given and day nearing an end JP’s mother finally revealed the big mystery.
“How would you like to meet your father?”
Shock, followed by curiosity, excitement, fear. The most common five words he had grown up saying were, ‘I don’t have a dad’, but now here his mother was turning his world upside down by not only telling him he did have one, but making it as real as ever by saying he could meet him.
They had never really spoken about it until now, JP content with the brief answers she had given him in that she and his father had lost touch before JP was born. While others felt pity for him he had always looked at it as no big deal, never really missing what he never had to begin with.
“I thought you guys lost touch,” the teenager wondered aloud. “Did you find him?”
His mother now showed a side of herself he had rarely ever seen, hesitancy.
“It’s true, we had lost touch after a while, but first…” She sat there, searching for the right words.
“Your father was a very ambitious person, that’s where you get your drive. He wanted to accomplish something every day, no matter how big or small. At the time he was concentrating on getting into some famous business school. We would talk about the future, and that’s when we started to drift apart, between his focus on getting accepted and our different outlooks, he wanting to wait for marriage and children, me not so much.
“Soon after that your father, Stefan, that was, is his name by the way, decided to move to the place where this great college of his was located, somewhere in Massachusetts. So that was it, we parted on pretty good terms, a little saddening but I knew we were two different kinds of people who wanted two different things in life, so I came to accept it.”
Stefan, my father’s name is Stefan JP thought to himself, boggled that he had never even asked his mother for something as simple as a name.
“It was only months later,” his mother continued on, “when I missed my peri-. When my body wasn’t acting normal, that’s when I found out I was pregnant with you. Stefan was already long gone chasing his dreams and I didn’t want to be the one to stop him, so I just held my stomach and whispered down to you that everything was going to be okay. That as long as we had each other we would be fine.”
It was true that JP had inherited an ambitious nature, feeling more interested of what became of his father than being upset that his mother had not reached out to tell Stefan he had a child on the way.
“How did you find him? Did he make his dream come true?” JP asked.
“He has. It hasn’t been that hard to keep track of him, thanks to the Internet and all. I look him up every time you have a birthday, just to see how he’s doing. He’s done very well for himself, now a top executive at some big company in New York.”
JP instantly felt proud.
“I’m sorry I never told you before, but that’s because I’ve always had your best interest at heart. He’s always so busy, I know he wouldn’t have been able to be there for you. I wanted you to have a stable environment, at least a strong foundation before you went out into the world.”
“So he never knew you got pregnant?”
“Never. He never knew he had a son until last week.”
JP looked up with a jolt. “You talked to him?”
“I reached out a few days ago. It’s always been my intention to let you make your own decisions about him once you reached the right age, and, well, things are going to be changing a lot for you starting next year, so I thought fifteen would be the appropriate age to tell you about him.”
“What did he say?”
“Actually, he really surprised me. He started crying on the phone. He was confused but excited, saddened but happy. He can’t wait to meet you, if you think you’re ready to meet him. We’ll both understand if-“
“I do. When can I meet him?”
“He said he could fly you out to New York next weekend, or us if you want me to come too.”
“I’ll go alone. I’ll be fine.” So decisive, just like his father.
The next seven days went by all too slowly for JP, spending his time googling his father and learning of what he had achieved over the years. This brought thoughts of his own future to mind, as well as an understanding of his past, now knowing why he was the go-getter he was. He also studied the man’s physical features, comparing them to his own and enjoying the completion he now felt in knowing who he had come from. He couldn’t wait to begin this new chapter in his life.
Knowing her child as well as she did JP’s mother had given him one more birthday gift, a trip to the tailor to be fitted for his very own suit. And so on the morning of his big trip with a new haircut and decked out in suave business attire JP took his first first-class flight and indeed felt on top of the world.
By the time the plane touched down the teenager’s stomach was in knots. He had always dreamed of being a world-class businessman but had never imagined his first business-like meeting would involve meeting his own father. At least there wasn’t a whole new family to meet, as his dad had never married or had kids, but the butterflies were still fluttering about. A feeling JP knew he had to conquer now, as it was preparation for future high-class meetings.
Given his age the teenager’s father had permission to meet him right there at the gate, and so JP began looking as soon as he stepped out from the passenger boarding bridge, but instead of finding the man whose image he had been looking up all week on the Internet he could only spot one person waiting. An older man in a chauffeur’s uniform, JP unsure as the man was looking at him until enough people had cleared the way to where he could see the name card the chauffeur was holding.
And so he walked towards him.
He had never seen the man before, knew nothing of his character, yet the chauffeur looked uneasy to JP, maybe even nervous, trying hard to come across as pleasant as he forced a smile and retrieved a cell phone from his pocket.
“Master JP,” the older man said with a British accent, “your father-” He swallowed hard. “Your father couldn’t make it, but I am to give your mother a ring now.”
Give her a ring? The teenager thought for an instant before understanding when the chauffeur hit a button on his cell phone.
“Ma’am, your son…
“ Master JP…” The chauffeur said as he handed the phone over to him.
“Hello mom? What’s going on?”
“Honey, you’re going to have to come back home now. I know you just got off the plane but I’ll explain later. Your flight leaves in an hour, this nice gentleman will take you to get something to eat first. Anything you want.”
“But why? Why can I meet my dad? He doesn’t want to meet me anymore?”
“No honey, it’s not that. It’s just that- there’s been an emergency. He’s been in an accident.”
JP’s stomach sank, but that feeling he knew so well, that feeling of determination arose as always. Handing the phone back to the chauffeur he simply stated, “please sir, take me to my father now.”
The older man recognized such determination, about to explain as he put the phone back to his ear. “Ma’am…”
But she made his job easier, knowing her son and therefore giving the chauffeur permission to do as the teenager wished.
JP had never ridden in a limousine before but like the first-class flight felt as though he belonged. Once at the hospital he and the chauffeur were escorted to a private room and it was here where he found a man lying in bed that did not look like him, that once resembling face now swollen, bruised, broken as a result of being at the wrong the place at the wrong time; walking a New York city sidewalk at the same time that an old woman’s heart gave out, sending her body keeling over and stiffened foot pressing hard against the gas pedal to her half century old Cadillac, the two and a half ton vehicle jumping a curb and careening right into a top level executive that was scheduled to meet his son for the first time later that day.
What the teenage boy could not see and not know at this time was how the man’s internal organs were far worse than his exterior injuries, the doctors only being able to do so much with this severe damage and therefore only giving the man a few more hours to live.
Unable to speak, barely able to open his eyes JP’s father fought with every ounce of will he had left once his chauffeur let him know he had returned with his son. The two men had worked together for years and so no words had to be shared for the older gentleman to know his boss preferred not to have the boy see him in this state, but the executive also knew his son had his Burton blood and so understood.
Besides his eyes all the executive could move was his hand, his fingers reaching out for his son, JP stepping forward to oblige. The contact made through hands and eyes was as strong as worlds forming, their bond as father and son far greater than the fact that there were only meeting for the first time, father acting as guide in taking his son to the gates of adulthood with this first grown-up lesson of loss and acceptance.
The executive then pointed off in the direction of the chauffeur, again the older gentleman not needing words to know what was needed as he brought forth his boss’s notebook, gently placing it beside the gravely ill man’s hand.
That one slow functioning hand took JP’s and guided it to the notebook, then lightly patted it, their eyes never breaking contact. The teenager understood. He wanted him to have it.
Less than an hour later JP’s father was dead.
The notebook was an hp Spectre, the slimmest laptop the world had ever seen to date. JP had waited to open it until he was back amongst the executive class high in the sky, silently marveling at the craftsmanship of this fine looking device. He entered the password his father’s long-time employee had given him and was met with a home screen full of icons, the background picture being that of a beautiful three-storey home surrounded by trees and blanketed by snow.
The teenager couldn’t help but feel as though he were some kind of invader, like looking through someone’s wallet after coming upon it on a sidewalk. But he reminded himself that this is what his father had wanted, and so JP guided the cursor to the first of so many files and double clicked.
Like a great book you never want to end JP’s hp provided him with stories about his father for that whole year of his transitional stage, every day discovering something new. Of course there were tons and tons of business files, much of which the teenager would need time to understand, but indeed in time he would come to realize what a business bible he really had possession of. But there were so many other files as well, allowing him to get to know his dad on a more personal level. From the songs he had grown up listening to to his favorite films. From vacation videos and photos to a personal journal which went all the way back to his first love, JP’s mother. And yes, there was even a folder meant to be viewed behind closed doors only. Simply titled Release, it was full of both videos and films of an adult nature. The kind of content most boys, and many girls JP’s age had already begun to explore. The kind of content many would spend hours upon hours sifting through in search of just the right ones, but all the eye candy in this folder was the cream of the crop, ensuring he’d never again have to waste time on hunting for hidden gems in the vastness of cyberspace.
Although she could never have known when first speaking them JP’s mother’s words proved to be the truest she had ever uttered, her son transitioning from boy to young adult with great strides and a maturity level far beyond most of his peers. Armed with the heart and compassion she had given him, the drive and ambition he had running through his veins from his father and the world of knowledge in his hp Spectre JP set out for the future destined to not only fly but soar.