That's how the step-mother had put it. Parents' divorce had come in his grade 11. Dad kept up the accounting job. Tried to work double-time to see the boy into college.
Step-mother had worked as a realtor in the same office tower. Also a divorcee. Kenny often wondered whether it was truly love or just loneliness. Mom had moved to the coast and fresh air with a new teaching opportunity. Still no significant other in her life, but that was OK. She had her friends, career and an end to the dreadful uncertainty of Dad's drinking habits and spending sprees.
Kenny had lasted the first two years of college at home, but it was far from workable. He took the excuse of some special courses to justify a move to another campus at some distance. Got his degree with mediocre results, in spite of his own drinking debacle and a succession of inappropriate girlfriends. A unique friendship with a graduate student tutorial aid got him inside the front door of Family Services in Edmonton. Things started to move in the right direction. Extra hours. Touchy household situations. Troubled kids brought some light. Supervisors impressed and helping along the career path.
But the home connection had just evaporated. Dad had lasted seven years with the second wife. Christmas Day telephone conversations. Birthdays remembered. Only two decent trips back to Ontario. Summer time and some pleasant driving around Georgian Bay together. Little real content to share. But it was clear that Dad had won the battle with the bottle, and had developed some interesting hobbies and connections.
And now the phone call had come from one of Dad's oldest buddies. Cancer. Chronic care in London. A mere sixteen weeks given him. Where to start? How to mend? What kind of comfort? Such thoughts popped into his mind on the cab trip from the London Airport.
University Hospital was an impressive facility, but sterile and seemingly heartless. He would always remember Dad's big smile as he entered the room. And his comments to the three bed-mates..."my Son, Chief Inspector, Edmonton Family Services".
The visit for the next three days was perhaps the best in memory. Relaxed. Relieved. Remembering. Respectful. The patient had been given some honest hope that he was responding well to control measures, and that some out-patient arrangement would be possible, for some time at least.
On the plane trip home, Kenny could not shake his Father's parting words, "Son, thanks. I love you. You were never, ever bad business, ya' know."