|CHOICES MADE: THE STREET YEARS
A pathetically gray sky held Christmas Eve in St. Louis captive. Snowflakes clung to fifteen year old Jamy Chance MacGregor like a blanket. They mixed with the tears streaming down his cheeks and dripped from his patrician nose. Pulling his thin coat closer around him did nothing to warm him. He watched as they lowered his mother’s coffin into the sodden black earth.
Simple words etched into the small brass plaque fastened to the plain wooden coffin. Not much of a legacy for the woman who stood up to society by giving him life. She had been segregated from the ‘good Christian’ families by keeping him and he had been segregated from ‘good people’s’ children by being illegitimate. A heavy burden to bear for all his years, it proved more difficult now that no friends stood by his side.
His dark chili spice colored hair hung in damp ringlets about his shoulders from the snow, falling faster now. Shoes, a size too small, pinched his cold numbed feet as he slid in the muck formed by the mud and snow. He reached for the silver guardian angel pendant his mother gave him with the consoling words, "Ils protégeront et te garder." ("They will protect and keep you.") The pendant barely touched the emptiness he felt while clumps of mud thudded against the cover of the coffin. The hollow sound dredged a moat around the walls already surrounding his heart.
His strong square jaw worked as he clenched and unclenched his teeth. "Why couldn’t God let her be with me one more day? Why not one more Christmas together? Why did she have to die? She never did anything wrong." He said the words quietly as his anger collapsed into hurt. The tears flowed again.
“S’il vous plaît,” Jamy begged, “S’il vous plaît, je ne veux pas aller. Je veux rester ici. Je peux me débrouiller.”
“Speak English. I can’t understand a word you’re saying. Half English. Half French. Didn’t your mother teach you how to talk decent?” Mr. Kratz, the social worker complained.
“Ple – ee – ee – se,” Jamy begged, “I want to stay here.” Jamy slammed the door to his mother’s apartment. “I can take care of myself.” Jamy rubbed his forearms against his ribs to stop the sweat dripping from his arm pits. It was always his first sign of over-whelming frustration. It, in itself, frustrated him. It wasn’t cool to have perspiration rings enveloping the underarms of his shirt.
“No, you’re only fifteen, you have to come with me.”
“I have taken care of myself the entire time my mother was sick. I’ll be fine.” His upturned eyes looked into the social worker’s. Just shy of six feet tall, he stood inches away from the man who now attempted to change his life.
“Stop looking at me that way. Your eyes give me the creeps. What the hell color are they anyway? Green? Who ever heard of a boy with green eyes. Red hair and green eyes. You must have been a real joke being born at Christmas time.”
The biting words dented his already fragile grip. He lowered his gaze blinking back the tears.
Mr. Kratz said curtly, “I told you I’m going to find you a foster home after Christmas. You can’t stay alone.”
Jamy looked around the small apartment. The only home he had ever known. Soft blue walls muted gray brown with age and limp lacy curtains gently fluttered at drafty windows. When Maman was well, the lace was always crisp with starch. So much starch. My shirts were always scratchy. He shifted in his threadbare shirt. The softness and wrinkles were another reminder his Maman was gone.
Jamy asked, “Pourras vous appleller à mon père?”
Recalling the earlier chastisement about speaking French when Mr. Kratz ignored his question, he repeated, “Will you call my father? I wrote him letters ever since I could write. He’ll let me live with him. Maman said I should go live with him. Will you call him?”
“Your parents never married. He hasn’t seen you since you were a baby. I doubt he wants anything to do with you.”
“What about Paul Linders? He’s my dad. He and Maman were going to be married when he returned from Vietnam. He wants me. He said he did. He said I could have his name.”
“He never married your mother and has no legal rights to you. You told me yourself that you haven’t heard from him since March. I’m not going to chase down people who don’t want you.
Join Jamy in his journey -
Copyright © 2005 Choices Made. All rights reserved. Revised: August 18, 2012 .