An Unknown Son

Edith was in a bit of an awkward position in our teenaged group of boys and girls. All of us except Edith lived in luxurious center-hall homes with broad lawns and gardens that were mowed and tended by professional gardeners. We were all more or less on the same level in socio-economic terms.

Edith lived in the center of the neighbourhoods in which our group circulated, but lived a very different way of life. Rather than the large brick homes in which the rest of us lived, Edith lived with her family on the main street in a flat above a small appliance store. I don’t know where she went to high school and I never saw her at our school.

We knew her from around the neighbourhood, I suppose. I don’t remember how I met her, but I do remember chatting with her on the street sometimes when we met. She was not like the rest of us, who were living a very desirable style of life. Edith was as pretty as any of the other girls, and had a beautiful figure.

As I think back now, I believe she had a rough life, and I suspect she was violated by her father. It’s just a feeling I have. Edith lived very much within herself, and I would not know what might be going on in her life. I rarely saw her, and the last time I had seen her was 21 months before the phone call.

I answered in the den. Edith announced herself and told me she was calling to tell me that my son was one year old. She said she was not after anything, but she wanted me to go with her to an interview at the Catholic Children’s Aid Society. They wanted to know if there are any inheritable weaknesses in my family line.

The lady at the institution was smiling and courteous. I was a 19 year old kid, Edith was 18, and she had to give up the kid. Before we got to the office she told me that she was sure it was my baby, because I was the only white lover she’d had. I was shocked. She said that her black babies were yellow at birth, but white babies are pink, so she knows it’s mine.

The society would not let me see him, nor support him in any way. I am required to leave it behind for the rest of my life. I argued with myself about that, and realized that as a kid of 19, there was not much I could do against this large, respected organization.

I thought back to the night of conception. I had a beloved British sports car. On hot summer nights, when the rest of my family was at the country house, I was at home alone. On July nights, I liked to stay late in the garage, messing with the car. Tuning the carbs or polishing the finish to a high shine was as much pleasure as driving.

Edith appeared in the open garage doorway. She was out walking in the hot summer night. She chatted and made the best of her body in the way she moved and sat. I told her I was going for a drive, having finished the polishing of the car. She asked to go with me. It was about 1:00am when we climbed into the car and went for a drive.

We went to High Park and left the car to walk around. Before I really thought about it, Edith had me on the grass behind a hedge, and we had sex there, as other strollers passed by on the other side of the hedge.

About 40 years later, a cousin of mine called me. He had apparently seen Edith, and she gave him her number and asked him to give it to me. I think I should have called her, but my wife at the time objected, so I didn’t call. It might be just as well. The authorities denied me any opportunity to know him, so I don’t know him.

I wonder, if I’d have called her, would she tell me that he was a successful person with a fine family, or would she say he needs a kidney, or that he’s a convicted murderer. I’m 80 now, and have much to look back upon. The son I’ll ever know would be about 62 years old now, and I can only hope that life has been interesting and comfortable for him.

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