How Can I Not ?
By Debbie T.
I answer the phone, not taking my eyes off the computer screen and the report I'm typing.
"Cascade Police Department, Major Crime, Dr. Sandburg speaking."
"Is this Blair Sandburg?"
The man on the other end speaks softly. The voice doesn't sound familiar.
"Yes, this is Blair Sandburg. Can I help you, sir?"
"My name is Robert Sheldon and I am your father."
The news is like a lead weight and the words hang in the air, in the phone lines. No beating around the bush, no obfuscation, no warning.
"Um with all due respect, Mr. Sheldon, I've never known my father. Why should I believe you?" Not to mention this is all so sudden and unexpected.
"You were born on May 24, 1969. Your mother is Naomi Sandburg and she and I were involved for two years before you were conceived. I know your grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth Sandburg. I thought I had convinced Naomi to marry me, but she got cold feet just before the scheduled wedding. She left just after you would have been conceived, not telling me where she went. I was wondering; can we meet?"
"I'm not sure. This is all out of the blue, Mr. Sheldon. Can I think about it?"
"Of course, Blair. I can call you Blair, right?"
"Blair is fine."
"I know how surprising this is for you. Think about it all you want."
He gives me his number and we break off contact. I want to contact Naomi and ask her about Robert Sheldon. If she knew him - if she knows him. I told Sheldon I would call him back. My first instinct after the first contact, is to run a background check on the guy. Something inside me resists going that route. I don't say a word to Jim or anyone else at the station just yet.
I contact Naomi, surprised to find her after only three phone calls. I ask about Robert Sheldon. There's a small laugh on the other end of the phone.
"Yes, I did know a Robert Sheldon. We were engaged to be married, but I got cold feet about a week before the wedding. And then, I found out I was pregnant with you."
"He said you went out for several years before. So, is he my father?"
"The odds are pretty good. My parents even liked him."
"Yeah, he mentioned he knew Gramps and Nana."
"What did he want, Sweetie?"
"He wants to meet me. I'd like to do it."
"Go ahead, Sweetie. You deserve to know for sure. I'm sorry I didn't let you know. But it was so painful for such a long time. I did love him, but it was such a big step, getting married and settling down. I was so young and I wanted to see the world. I thought that once I was married, that would be lost to me forever. By the time I found out I was pregnant, Robert had already left the area. He had moved on with his life and I knew I was going to be alone."
"You're not alone, mom. We didn't need anyone else. We had each other. But now I have the opportunity to find out about him. I think I will meet with him."
"I hope he's not a disappointment, Blair."
"If I don't like him, I don't have to keep in contact. Thanks, mom."
"For what, honey?"
"For being there for me all those years."
It's the next day before I mention anything to Jim. I tell him about the contact from Robert Sheldon.
"Just out of the blue? Some *stranger* saying he's your father? Why now, Chief?"
Jim's almost in over-protective mode. "I don't know, Jim. I've talked to my mom and she indicates he's probably my father. They were supposed to get married. But Naomi got cold feet."
"Robert Sheldon, huh? Why don't I run a background check ?"
"No, Jim! That was my first instinct too. But I want to meet him without any preconceived notions. I'm going to contact him and make the arrangements to meet him."
"What if it's some type of scam, Blair?"
"Jim, I'm a big boy. I can take care of myself. He could be my dad - my father. Someone I've always dreamed and fantasized about. I need to put a face with my dreams." I look Jim directly in the eye, hoping he understands my need to do this.
Jim slowly nods his head. "Okay, Chief. Why don't you tell him to meet you here?"
"I'm going to talk to him. He left me his contact number and we'll make the arrangements."
I can tell that Jim is not overly thrilled about all of this. He has to understand it's my decision and my life.
It's another day before I'm able to get hold of Robert Sheldon. He wants me to come to Butte, Montana, where he lives. On impulse, I say yes. I tell him I can't leave until I get clearance to take vacation. He says he's looking forward to meeting me. I don't tell him, but I'm looking forward to meeting him too. I know it won't be any problem with Simon getting the time off. I go talk to Simon that afternoon.
I explain about the contact with Robert Sheldon, who he is and what he wants. I ask Simon for an indefinite leave of absence. I've thought about this for a long time. He questions me about that.
"If this is my father, I want to get to know him. I don't want to have a time limit on how long I get to spend with him. I mean, I have over thirty years to catch up on."
"I understand your dilemma, Blair. And I can see why you'd want more than just a meet and greet. How much initial time will you need?"
"I'm thinking a month to start with. If we hit it off, it may be longer." I look up at Simon, then back to the floor. "It may be forever." The last part is practically whispered.
"Have you mentioned this to Jim?" I hear the worry in Simon's voice.
I laugh nervously and look around Simon's office. "Not yet. I wanted to get the time off first. I know Jim's not going to be happy."
Simon snorts. "That's putting it mildly, Sandburg. Do you think you'll be coming back?"
"I'm hoping to. Eventually. But I can't say for sure."
"Are you sure about this guy, Sandburg?" He catches my eye and holds my gaze.
Simon is as concerned as Jim is. "Not 100 %, sir. But he knows the right answers, my mom and my grandparents. He and Naomi were engaged to be married. It's probable he is my father. If he's willing, I'm going to ask him to submit to a DNA paternity test. I know that sounds a little harsh, but I want to make sure."
"It's understandable, son. You have to make sure. Why didn't he come to Cascade?"
"He asked me to come to Montana. On impulse, I said yes. I've never been to Montana."
"Sounds like a real adventure. I'll approve your request for an indefinite leave of absence. But if it's at all possible, I'd like to have you return some day." Simon's request is genuine.
"Thank you, sir. I will try. I'll tell Jim and the others."
I tell Jim when we get home, just when I'm putting dinner on the table. I dare not say anything before then.
"Oh, by the way, I got indefinite leave from Simon to go to Butte, Montana to meet Robert Sheldon. He asked me to meet him there and I said yes."
"YOU WHAT? ARE YOU CRAZY, SANDBURG?" Jim explodes, gets up from the table and goes over to the balcony windows.
I follow at a discreet distance. I don't yell back at him. "Jim? I have to do this. If he is my father, I want to get to know him. I've always felt there was a vital part of me that was missing - that I've missed out on. I've always envied families - mothers and fathers and children, all living together in one place."
Jim doesn't turn around to face me. "But an indefinite leave? You're not planning on coming back?"
"I want to get to know him. His likes, his dislikes. Where he grew up, his family, his history. I need time for that."
"What about us? Sentinel and Guide?"
"Jim, you'll be fine. You have control and there's always the rest of Major Crime to help you if you need it. I told Simon I'd try to come back. I really don't want to leave forever. I'm sure it won't be forever."
"What about a background check on the guy? I mean, you don't know a thing about him. Did he even tell you what he does for a living? He seems to know a lot about you."
"He didn't tell me what he does for a living. But no, Jim. No background check. It'll be fine."
The next day, I explain about leaving to the rest of Major Crime. All of them express how much they will miss me and how much of a mistake they think this is or could be. I tell them I will be fine. And I make them promise to help Jim if he needs it. Jim is sufficiently embarrassed and I can only laugh. Jim announces the going away party for me on Saturday night, even though I'm not leaving until the next Monday.
The party is really special, as I see how much the Major Crime *family* will miss me. They make me promise to stay in touch and to return, eventually, to Cascade. I have to come back now. This is my family.
Since my plane doesn't leave until Monday evening, I work all day Monday. It is a somber mood in the bullpen all day. Everyone tells me goodbye once more as they leave, all of them telling me once again to return.
I've done all I can for the moment. I look up from the report I've just finished. It's just Jim and I left in the bullpen. I don't know if Jim chased the others out or they got the clue that they should leave. I guess this is the moment of truth. I shut down my computer and put the report into Jim's inbox. We stand up at the same time.
I cough. "I guess this is it."
"Are you sure about this, Sandburg?"
I sigh and roll my eyes. Jim just can't let it go. "Jim? Don't. We've discussed this. Simon and the others will be here to help you if you need it."
"What if it's a wild goose chase? At least let me run a background check on the guy."
Jim's like a broken record. "No, Jim. Just let it go. I told him I'd be there on the plane tonight. Are you still taking me to the airport?"
"Of course, Blair. I told you I would."
I grab my coat and Jim grabs his. We walk to the doors of Major Crime and I turn around to look at the room one last time.
"I'll miss this." I sigh again.
"You'll be back." Jim sounds so sure.
"You're more optimistic than I am."
I turn and head towards the elevator, quickly wiping the tears from my eyes. I hear Jim behind me. We get into the elevator and I purposefully don't look in Jim's direction. I'm not in the mood to break down here in the police station. I was hoping I could avoid the tears altogether. I thought I had cried them all out at the going away party the other night. But I guess I was wrong.
Jim doesn't say a word at all. Even though we discussed this to saturation point, he still wants me to stay. Jim doesn't understand. This is my father. I have to go. I have to check him out for myself. Face to face. There were times though when I had to resist the urge for Jim to run that background check.
Too soon, we reach the garage and I automatically walk off the elevator. Jim is walking by my side. I still don't look over at him. I get into the passenger's side of the truck and Jim gets into the driver's side.
"Are you planning to stay with him?" I hear what Jim doesn't say in that question.
"I plan on getting to know him. To find out if he really is my father."
"What if it's all a scam?"
"Why would he scam me, Jim? I don't have anything that's valuable."
"You're a world famous anthropologist. And a Guide to a Sentinel. That's valuable enough to me."
I shake my head. "I don't expect you to understand, Jim. But I need to do this. It will at least answer my questions about who my father is."
"If he is your father."
"Do you like playing Devil's Advocate, Jim? He had the pertinent information." I'm getting just a little pissed at Jim.
"He could have gotten the information from anywhere."
"Jim? I'll be fine. I know that you worry about me. But it's not necessary. I can take care of myself. And it would look a little strange for me to drag you along to Montana. Plus the fact that you have open cases to work on."
"I know you can take care of yourself. I'm just worried you're going to be disappointed."
"Well, I can deal with that too, Jim."
"I don't understand why you can't just go and then come back."
"Because if he is my father, I want to get to know him. And I'm sure he wants to get to know me too. I can't do that in a short amount of time. I'll call to keep you updated. I told you that already."
"I just don't want you to go."
I chuckle. "Don't pout on me, Jim Ellison. This will test our friendship."
Jim practically growled. "I don't want to test our friendship! We got everything worked out with the dissertation. I thought you were happy as a consultant?"
"I am happy, Jim. But just think if you hadn't known one of your parents and you had the chance to meet them. Wouldn't you jump at the chance?"
"I suppose I would. I just want to keep you here."
"We're still friends. Don't forget that. You are my best friend."
We reach the airport and Jim helps me with my luggage. I get it all checked in, except for my backpack. I still have over a half an hour before my plane takes off. We go to the lounge to get something to drink. I can tell that Jim is still upset. He just doesn't want to let me out of his sight. He sometimes thinks I can't take care of myself. He even treats me like a little kid at times. This is why I'm more determined to do this and to go to Montana to find out if Robert Sheldon is my father. Jim pays for the drinks and we sit down at a nearby table. Both of us are silent. I think about my upcoming trip. To see the father I didn't know was out there. I am minutes away from boarding a plane that will take me to a place I've never been before to meet a man I've never met before. I look up and I'm looking directly into Jim's eyes. I only hope he's not picking up my nervousness. I finish my tea and stand. Jim finishes his coffee and stands beside me. We walk side by side to the gate. He stops me before I go to board the plane.
"Call me when you arrive. And if you need anything, I'm here."
"Thanks, Jim. I'll keep in touch. I promise."
I turn and walk away before it becomes too much. I walk alone towards the plane, handing them my ticket, going through the security set up, and getting on the plane. I don't look back, knowing that would be my undoing. I find my seat. I stuff my backpack under the seat and then sit down. I close my eyes, thinking about my first encounter with my father. Hoping he will accept me unconditionally. He mentioned to me that he had seen me - on the news conference I gave. What a way to discover your son! So he knows a part of my past. I didn't even ask what he does for a living.
I'd like to think he has followed my career. That maybe he's known who I am for a long time. But then, I wonder, why did he wait so long to contact me?
I try not to think about Jim. I know I've hurt him by just up and leaving. For a person I don't even know. He will never admit that I've hurt him, though. He tries to remain stoic and strong. But I've seen him cry and grieve. That's why I didn't look back. I didn't want to see Jim that way and have to remember him that way. I want him to be happy for me. I would be happy for him if somehow he was reunited with his mother.
I'm sure I'll come back to Cascade. And until I do, I'll keep in contact with Jim and the others. They are my first family. The plane takes off. Only then, do I let my tears fall. I'll miss Jim and Cascade.
The plane lands in Butte, Montana 2 ½ hours later. I'm one of the last ones off the plane. I feel the butterflies in my stomach as I walk towards the terminal. I can't help but stare at the person in front of me. It's surreal. It's like looking into a futuristic mirror. The man walks forward, extending his hand. I extend mine and we shake hands.
"Please, call me Robert."
"Robert. Um forgive me for staring."
Robert laughed. "It's okay, Blair. I totally understand. I was amazed how much you looked like me when I first saw you."
"When was that?"
"I first heard about you when you enrolled at Rainier when you were but sixteen. I've basically followed your career since then."
"Can I ask a question?"
"Sure, Blair. Whatever you want to know."
"What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a sergeant with the Butte police force."
I can't help it; I burst out laughing. This will all be just fine. Wait until I tell Jim!
I finally get my laughter under control and look back over at Robert. Dad. Father. Pop. I think I'll stick with Robert for the time being.
"Why don't we get your stuff and we can go to my place? I'm sure you have a lot more questions."
"Oh, I do, Robert."
We get my things, Robert carrying half and me carrying the rest. I follow him out of the terminal and over to a Jeep Cherokee, with the Butte police force logo emblazoned on the sides. We put my things in the back and I climb into the passenger seat.
When Robert gets in, he turns to me. "It's the only vehicle I have. I told the Sheriff I had to have a couple of days off to get to know my son. How long are you scheduled off from your job?"
I look down at the floor of the vehicle. I'm embarrassed to tell him. I mumble, "A month."
Robert chuckles. "A month? Sounds like I'm going to be receiving the third degree."
I look up and over at him. "No! Nothing like that! I just want to get to know you. And I figured I needed more than just a few days or even a few weeks. If that's okay with you?"
"It's fine with me, Blair. You were able to take off a whole month from your job?"
"I asked for a leave of absence. Extenuating circumstances. My boss, Captain Banks, is very understanding."
"Yeah, I found it curious that you work at a police station."
"Like father, like son " I stop suddenly.
Robert laughs again. "It's okay, Blair. I like being called father. Or dad. Or whatever you want to call me."
"I didn't mean to "
He pats me on the arm. "It's okay. We have a whole month to figure out the dynamics of our relationship."
He starts the vehicle and I watch the scenery pass by as he navigates towards his house, on the outskirts of Butte. He asks about my degrees and the reason I'm with the police department.
"I did my dissertation, the one that was submitted, on police subcultures and the link between evidence gathering and the capture of a perpetrator. And how that all ties into the trial and subsequent guilt or innocence."
"You must have gotten your brains from your mother." He smiles over at me. "Well, here we are. Home. I've lived here for over twenty years. That's how long I've been with the Butte police force."
We get out the jeep and grab my things out of the back. "Have you always been a cop?"
"Well, I had started out to be a history teacher, but I was drafted to go to Vietnam. When I returned from there, my priorities had changed and I went to the police academy in Massachusetts, where I grew up. I was a cop with the Boston PD for a time, until this job came up, less stress and more laid back."
We walk inside the house and I look around.
I notice Robert watching me as I'm looking around the place.
"Put your luggage down there by the door. We'll take it upstairs later. I want to give you the grand tour of the place."
"Sounds good to me." I put my duffel bag and backpack down by the rest of my suitcases, which Jim insisted I take with me, since I was going to be gone for so long. I turn back to face Robert.
"Can I ask another question?"
"Of course, Blair. You don't have to ask my permission."
"If you knew who I was when I was sixteen, why did you wait so long until you contacted me?"
I can see the question makes him uneasy. But he doesn't waste any time answering me. "I knew I had missed your formative years and I wasn't sure how you would respond to an intrusion by some man claiming to be your father. And as the time went by, it just became easier to stay away. I know it was probably the wrong thing to do, but I didn't want to hurt you."
I can understand what he's saying. And he is probably right. I may have resented him more had he come into my life back when I was a teenager. I really thought I knew it all when I started at Rainier. I probably would have sent him away without letting him explain himself.
"I understand. And you were probably right. So, how about that tour?"
"Sure. If you'll follow me?"
I follow Robert around the house, impressed at how much space he has for someone living alone. He tells me he has never been married and has no other children. That makes me feel special. When we reach the living room, I notice the picture right away on the mantle - a picture of Naomi and me, as a baby. Robert notices I'm staring at the picture.
"Your mother sent that to me. I asked her to when I found out who you were. I was able to get hold of her and although she didn't come out and say you were my son, she didn't deny it either. See that picture on the right side? That's a picture of me and my mother. Notice the similarities?"
I look at the picture he indicates. About the same age, we look alike. I look over at Robert.
"I was going to ask you later if you would submit to a paternity test. Not that I don't believe you, but it would validate the reason I came here."
"I have no problem submitting to a paternity test. I was even going to suggest it myself. I wasn't sure how you felt about all of this."
"I have to admit, it took me totally by surprise. But it will be nice to know I have a real father. I used to fantasize about what my dad and I would do together. We'd play baseball, basketball, football, all types of sports. We'd go to games together and talk about everything. I know it sounds foolish now, but "
"It's not foolish, Blair. If I knew how you felt, I would have intervened sooner. But the last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you. So I stayed away, but continued to follow your career. I'm proud of you, Blair. I want to tell you that now."
I'm embarrassed and I turn away from Robert. I mumble a quick, "thanks" and then walk to the far side of the room. Soon, I feel his hand on my back.
"Hey, I didn't mean to embarrass you. Why don't we take your things up to where you'll be staying and then we'll talk some more?"
I look up at him. "Sorry about that. Sure, that sounds like a good idea."
Robert leads the way upstairs to the bedrooms and shows me mine. "Just come down when you feel ready to."
"Thanks, Robert. For everything." I smile at him as he leaves me alone in the room.
I get out my cell phone, hoping I can get through to Jim. Just a quick update to let him know I made it okay. The phone is answered after the second ring.
"Hey, Jim. Did you think I forgot about you already?"
"You okay, Sandburg?"
"Of course I'm okay, Jim. Just thought I'd call and check in."
"Well, how is he?"
"He looks like me, Jim. He's known about me since I started at Rainier when I was sixteen. But he didn't approach me, not knowing how I'd respond to him. I think I would have rebelled against him back then. Naomi sent him a picture of me when I was about a year old. There was a picture beside it of him at the same age. The similarities are remarkable, man. I think he's my father. He's agreed to submit to a paternity test. He was even going to bring it up. And you know what the neatest thing is?"
Jim doesn't say a word.
"Jim? You still there?"
"Yeah, Chief. What's the neatest thing?"
I can tell Jim is no way as excited as I am. "He's a cop, Jim!" A sergeant with the Butte police force. Isn't that the neatest thing?"
"Sure, Chief. It's neat. So, your flight was smooth and everything went okay?"
"Yeah, Jim. Everything is fine. I guess I'd better let you go. Sorry if I interrupted something "
"No, Blair. It wasn't that. It's just "
But Jim doesn't say anything else. "It's okay, Jim. I understand. You're still skeptical. Well, it's my life. I'll talk to you again soon." I disconnect the call and put the cell phone away. I go back downstairs to talk to Robert some more.
We stay up late talking. Robert tells me about his life growing up in Boston. He tells me that he has two brothers and a sister. He finally shoos me off to bed as I keep drifting off.
"We have a lot of time to get to know one another, Blair."
I smile and go upstairs to bed. I should really call Jim back and apologize, but I will do that tomorrow. I strip down to my t-shirt and boxers and slip into the bed. I lay there in the bed and think about Robert. This is the best thing that could happen to me. I know Jim doesn't think so and probably a lot of other people don't think so either. But I am a grown man and I know what is best for me. And this is what I want. I won't let anyone dissuade me from what I want.
I do call Jim back a few days later and apologize. He apologizes also for presuming what is best for me. I ask him what he's done with the real Jim Ellison. He only laughs and says that he's missing me, that's why he's being so disagreeable. I accept his apology and then tell him I have to go.
Robert has been showing me around the town and showing me off to everyone in town. He proudly introduces me as his son, the doctor. I am proud of him too.
Robert has consented to a DNA paternity test. I gave him an out if he didn't want to do it. But he told me he was planning on doing it all along. He really is special and I have to pinch myself to make sure it's all real.
It's been two weeks and I don't want to leave Butte. We found out last Tuesday that Robert is my father. I actually cried when I heard the news. Robert didn't understand why I was crying and thought that I wasn't happy that he was my father. But nothing could be further from the truth. I'm overjoyed that Robert Sheldon is my father. And we have a connection that I never even dared think about before.
I've been exploring the area around Butte while Robert has gone back to work. It is a beautiful area and I could see Jim and me living here. But then reality comes back to me and I know I can't ask Jim to leave Cascade. I can't be that selfish. I need to talk to Jim again. I should return to Cascade and my own life. I know Robert is here and he's only a phone call away. And I'll ask him to come to Cascade so I can show him off to all of my friends and proudly introduce him as my father.
When Robert comes home, I tell him of my decision to return to Cascade. He walks over to me.
"I understand, Blair. You have a whole life and career back in Cascade. I never thought you would stay for a whole month."
"I had thought about moving here. It's such a beautiful area and I want to be near you."
"Blair? You can't do that. You're a responsible adult and I'm sure your partner, Jim, is waiting for you to go back to Cascade. You can come any time you want to."
"And maybe you could come to Cascade? So I can introduce you to all my friends?"
"Sure, Blair. I'd be honored to meet your friends."
"Thanks dad." It's the first time I've called him anything other than Robert. I see the smile cross his face as he pulls me into a hug. I hug him back and know that now my life is complete.
I'm smiling when I walk off the plane in Cascade. Jim is right there, waiting. Just like I knew he would. He must have gotten Simon to let him have the day off. Jim gives me the once over as I approach. I am so glad to be back in Cascade. Jim stops my forward motion and I laugh.
"Hey, Jim! I made it back in one piece and not a scratch on me. And Robert Sheldon is not a scam artist looking to do me harm. He is, however, my father. I'll show you the pictures we took when we get home. How are things with you?"
"I'm glad things turned out okay, Blair. And I'm glad you didn't spend a month away. Everyone at the station has been missing you terribly, not the least of all, me."
Jim pulls me into a hug and I can sense how much he has missed me.
"I'm sorry I was gone so long, Jim. But I just had to do this, you know? I just couldn't let that slip by without acting upon it."
"I know, Blair. So, he really does look like you?"
"Nope, I look like him. Sons look like their fathers, not the other way around, Jim. Yeah, it's amazing how much we look alike. I have a lot of pictures."
"Well, let's get your luggage and go home."
Between us, Jim and I carry the luggage to the truck and I talk non-stop on the ride to the loft, telling Jim about everything my dad and I did in Butte. Jim only smiles and listens as I go on and on. It is so good to be home.
TWO MONTHS LATER
I stand in the airplane terminal, waiting and watching as the passengers come off the plane. I got confirmation from my dad that he was coming in on this flight. Jim asked me if I wanted him with me, but I told him I could do this on my own. That I would bring my dad by the station after I picked him up at the airport.
Finally, I see him walk in. We notice each other at about the same time. We both wave at the same time. I chuckle and watch as he comes towards me. We hug and then separate.
"You're looking good, dad," I say to him as we start walking towards the luggage carousel.
"So are you, son. You know, I talked to your mother about two weeks ago."
"Really? Did you call her?"
"Nope, she called me. It was totally out of the blue and unexpected. She wanted to know if we had gotten together. I told her we did and that we were getting along with one another. She seemed happy about it."
"Well, that sort of surprises me. After all, Naomi has never had to share me with anyone before. I'm surprised she didn't call me to get my reaction to things."
"I asked her if I could see her again."
"You mean ?" I can't quite voice the question in my mind. Could I have a normal family after so many years of not having it all?
"I just want to see her again. After all these years, to see how much she has changed. I think I'm too much of a confirmed bachelor to ever go that far."
"Oh. How did you know what I was thinking about?"
"I could see it in your expression, Blair. Naomi and I don't need to be together for both of us to be your parents."
"I know that. I guess the little boy in me still wants a complete family. You never outgrow it."
"I understand, Blair. So, when do I get to meet your co-workers?"
"As soon as we get your luggage, we'll go there."
We grab my dad's bags and I lead the way to my car. My dad smiles when he sees the Volvo.
"Nice ride, Blair. How did you ever afford it?"
"It was cheap when I got it. A friend of mine gave me a good deal to take it off his hands."
"You have a classic here."
"Tell that to my partner, Jim. He thinks it's unreliable and I should buy something else. But I just can't do that."
We get in the Volvo and I drive us to the station. This is going to be SO special to introduce my dad to everyone.
We walk off the elevator and through the doors to Major Crime. My dad looks around, impressed at where I work. I start the introductions, not leaving out anyone. I see Jim waiting by his desk. I save Jim for last. We walk over to Jim's desk.
"About time you got here, Sandburg!" I can tell Jim is teasing me.
"Robert Sheldon, this is Jim Ellison, my partner and my best friend. Jim, this is my dad." It sounds so good every time I say it.
The two of them shake hands and I can tell that Jim is relieved to finally meet this person I've been talking about for weeks now. And my dad is the same way with Jim. I've made Jim into an almost larger than life person whenever I've talked to my dad about him. It's a relief that both of them seem to be getting along, swapping stories, some of them about me.
I finally interrupt. "Um I thought maybe the three of us could go out to dinner tonight? We can talk more then. I still have several places I want to show my dad."
"Sure, Chief. Go ahead and show your dad the scenic Cascade."
"Chief?" I can hear the humor in my dad's voice.
"Just one of many nicknames Jim has for me. We're almost like brothers; we've been partners for so long."
"Sounds like a brotherly kind of thing. Especially an older brother."
"We'll see you later, Jim."
"Nice meeting you, Jim."
"You too, Robert. Nice to know Blair has a respectable figure for a father."
I show off Cascade to my dad. He enjoys Cascade as much as I enjoyed Butte. He only stays for a week, but we promise each other to keep in touch, to see each other as often as our schedules will allow, and that the next time I go to Butte, I'll bring Jim along. My dad thinks Jim is the perfect partner.
I contact my mom after my dad as returned to Butte.
"Hey, mom. Robert did the DNA paternity testing to confirm that he's my dad. Why didn't you ever say anything about him to me?"
"It was never easy to talk about such things with you, Sweetie. And, knowing you, you would have asked question after question and I just wasn't comfortable telling you the whole story. About how I was scared to get married. And everything connected with that."
"I understand, mom. He said he was going to call you?"
"Yeah, it will be good to see him after so many years."
"Maybe he can keep you grounded in one place for a while?"
"I don't think even Robert Sheldon could do that this late in my life."
"Oh, c'mon, mom! You're not that old. And you and dad would make a perfect couple."
"Playing matchmaker, Blair?"
"Nah, I just want to see my parents get along and reestablish acquaintances. It would be nice to invite you both to visit sometime. Or we could meet dad in Butte. It's really breath-taking there."
"We'll talk about it, Blair. Robert and I. It will be our decision."
"Just as long as you discuss it. For your son."
"That's low, Blair. Even for you."
I chuckle. "I know, mom."
TWO MONTHS LATER
We all met in Butte - mom, dad, me and Jim, to spend time together. Dad said that he would host this get-together and that we can rotate for any future get-togethers. An enjoyable time was had by all. I can tell mom and dad are getting along real well. When I asked them separately about it, each denied anything other than they were friends. But even Jim noticed it, so I knew it was more than just friends. But that's okay; they don't have to tell me. After all, they are both grown ups.
Deep down, though, I'm secretly happy that they do get along. It may be late in my life, but now I have the family I always wanted.