Journey to Love
Fifteen Years Later, More or Less
Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
Sandra, my receptionist and general all-around assistant, called to me as I headed back to the lab. “Doctor Derek, I have been asked to set up a conference call for you and Dr. Jayden with a Mr. Kopler of the Department of Health and Human Services for 2:00 this afternoon. I have cleared both your calendars.”
“What’s that all about?”
“He didn’t say except to say it was very important.”
“Well, I hope it is. I want to get away a bit early today. Jayden and I are taking the kids camping this weekend.”
“All five and a friend of each. Richard and Lupe and their two are joining us. Fortunately, Kathryn is coming along to help with the girls. I’m not sure about this girl thing yet.”
“Doctor, you have had a daughter for, what, about five years?”
“Yeah and it gets more confusing all the time.”
After our summer with the elders, Jayden and I returned to Old Commonwealth and had a very good year. I graduated mid-year and had nothing to do while waiting to find out about med school. I decided I would soon be bored out of my skull and signed up for graduate level chemistry and biology classes. In selecting the classes, I happened to notice a photography class and just for the fun of it, signed up.
My life with Jayden got better and better and we both began to develop friends and activities of our own. I really got into photography and Jayden took up the guitar again. When we noticed we were spending time on our own, Jayden commented that it was because we knew our relationship was on absolute bedrock.
I had applied to several med schools—all pre-med students do—and was getting nervous as time passed and no letters of acceptance came. Jayden and all my friends kept assuring me I had nothing to worry about. Maybe I didn’t, but I was sure relieved when I got accepted into the Rural Medicine program at the University of New Mexico Medical School. Jayden let out a loud whoop when I told him and said they had an excellent Department of Psychology and promptly applied for admission to it. When he was accepted, he was pleasantly surprised to discover that he was still a legal resident of New Mexico and did not have to pay out-of-state tuition.
With school in the fall settled, Jayden and I talked about the summer and decided to take a real break and travel. We spent June in Europe and July in the American Northwest, Canada and Alaska. Between the two trips, we went to Albuquerque to locate housing. We found a duplex apartment which was very nice, but, of course, not as nice as our place in Norfolk. We made the move as soon as we got back from Alaska.
The demands of medical school placed a real strain on our relationship. Jayden handled it better than I, but it finally reached the point where he said, “Derek, you are my beloved, the heart of my heart, but I cannot go on the way we are. Our relationship has reached the point where I feel as if I am just the means to a quick release of your sexual tension.” I don’t think I would have felt half as much pain had he hit me in the gut with a baseball bat. The fact that I knew he was right doubled my pain. The next day I had a long talk with my mentor and we looked over where I was, my schedule and the extra responsibilities I had accepted and worked out three days when I could be away. The minute I was free, we headed for the desert. After my nearly tearing us apart, we kept our eyes open for opportunities to get away for an afternoon, a day and even occasionally, a weekend.
The next threat to our relationship came when intern/residency match-ups took place. I did everything I could and had some good people pulling for me, I hoped I’d be offered a residency in NM, but none came through. When the closest one I was offered was the Emory hospitals in Atlanta, we discussed Jayden either dropping out or transferring to Emory. Emory soon proved not to be an option and we both knew dropping out wasn’t one either, so I went to Atlanta and Jayden stayed in Albuquerque. His program gave him a much more flexible schedule than mine, so he racked up lots of frequent flier miles. He did, however, finish his master’s ahead of schedule and began work on his doctorate.
During the year I was in Atlanta, Jayden became Jayden Marshall Wilson. An aunt had hounded Jayden about visiting her ever since she'd found he was alive. She had been a great comfort to him when his mother died, so he told her he would attend a dinner party after she told him who would be present and doubly assured him his father would not. In the middle of dinner, Jaden Fulton, shoved past a the man serving the dinner. He was so drunk he could barely stand, but not so drunk he couldn’t shout. “What is that fucking faggot doing in your house, Sis?” he thundered.
“Jaden, he’s your son,” she had responded.
“He’s no son of mine. Jaden Marshall Fulton the Fourth does not have a faggot son,” he yelled as best he could and fell face down on the floor. Jayden got his name changed the next week, becoming Jayden Marshall Wilson.
After that year’s separation, we were together again in New Mexico. Since I had another year before I could work with Kathryn and/or the Pueblo, Jayden continued work on his doctorate. Since he planned to work as a psychologist in a Pueblo-like situation, part of his program was working with an established practice whose clients were limited to twelve-to twenty-year olds. He also volunteered with a youth program which worked with youth very similar to those the Pueblo served.
The day finally arrived when we were finished with school—at least so far as degrees were concerned. The month before we received our sheepskins, Jayden came home one evening and suggested we take off a month to visit our dads and friends from our Norfolk days and we did. We took our time driving from New Mexico stopping when we saw something interesting, taking back roads, never rushing. When I said something to that effect, Jayden said, “We are doing what we should have been doing and what we have been leaving undone. We are placing ourselves first.”
We had left the LeBaron in Norfolk and bought a used Land Rover in Albuquerque when I started med school and needless to say, it was well worn when we got back to Virginia. Nonetheless, it still had some good miles in it. Jayden asked our dads if they had a use for it and they immediately had a kid in mind who could and would appreciate it, so we gave it to him and flew back to Albuquerque.
On the plane back, I said, “Jayden, we need to rethink our situation. We have put our education ahead of us and I don’t regret it but I don’t want us to start doing that with work. I want very much to work with Kathryn and will do so, but ...well, there’s a problem. If I work with Kathryn, you will be at the Pueblo and we will be separated. I am going to see if it is possible for me to work with Richard and live with you at the Pueblo.”
“Well, let’s see what’s what before we decide all is not well,” Jayden responded, but he didn’t look happy.
When we checked into the hotel in Page, there was a message from Kathryn saying she would meet us for dinner. We had reserved a suite and as soon as we entered the room, Jayden grinned at me and said, “We’re in Page and I bet the showers are still working and the water’s still hot and sex in the shower is still great.” Having said that he immediately began stripping off my clothes. An hour and a half later we were lying on the bed, sated for the moment, as naked as Adam. Jayden would have said we were recovering from our shower lovemaking. I glanced at my Beloved Diné and from the look of things, the recovery was going very, very well. Noting that fact, I laughed and then attempted to announce in a serious tone, “You seem to be recovering very well, Dr. Wilson. But as your doctor, I can’t be sure until you resume your normal activities.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, Jayden headed for my groin.
When Kathryn arrived, Jayden and I were dressed and ready to escort her to our favorite Page restaurant. During dinner, we told Kathryn about our trip, then I said, “But I—we have something more serious than the trip to talk about. You may remember the problem we had because our relationship had been placed on the back burner. We managed the year with me in Atlanta, but we don’t want to do that again unless we absolutely have no other choice.” Jayden then described our concern.
“Maybe I have a win-win situation, then,” Kathryn said. “Lupe has been talking with some Hopi elders who have seen what she has done with the Pueblo. They are interested in a similar program and they are in negotiations right now. We have been talking for the last two months and think we may have a plan which includes you. Lupe has expressed a willingness to go live with the Hopi and get a program set up for them.
“The clinic there is not thriving. The clinic Richard has been running lost old Doc Andrews three months ago and we are hardly legal at this point. What I propose is Richard go with Lupe and operate the clinic Dr. Ellis had. We have a brand new doctor coming on board who will be the supervising physician. Dr. Ellis will take my place and you and I will go to the clinic Richard has been running. Richard can turn around the Hopi clinic and—drum roll here—you two and I would live at the Pueblo. Jayden was planning on working there and he can begin doing hands-on work with the Pueblo program.”
“Wow!” Jayden jumped up and danced around the room and I was ready to do so as well.
Less than a week later, Jayden and I got settled into two rooms at the Pueblo and began our study and work with Lupe and Kathryn. All the time we were there, we were talking, planning, revising and refining our dreams of a place where young men could become whole in mind, body and spirit.
Through our contacts as Chosen Ones and Jayden’s being a Keeper of Secrets—and those contacts were solid and extensive—we kept hearing talk of a Pueblo in New Mexico, maybe near the Navajo nation in the northwest corner of New Mexico. Finally, we were approached about the possibility of actually beginning work toward such a place. At the suggestion of a tribal leader, Lupe, Jayden and I went to check out possible locations. We found a hundred acres and the location wasn’t bad, but the entire hundred acres was flat, utterly flat. “I don’t think so,” Lupe said and we agreed. We drove seventy-five miles to check out another possibility and found about two hundred acres bordering the Navajo Nation. Jayden and I discussed it with Lupe and, while it wiped out our bank account, we put down earnest money to hold it for fear it might be sold.
On the way back to the Pueblo, we struggled to come up with a name for the complex—a Pueblo-like center for boys and young men and the clinic. When we reached a place where she could get a signal, Lupe called Richard to tell him what we had found. When she told him what we were discussing, he suggested Asilo, usually translated as the asylum, but it can be translated as the sanctuary. Asilo it was all agreed.
Kathryn worked with us on the application to incorporate Asilo as a non-profit and on the establishment of the Asilo Foundation. She was also extremely helpful in our making application to foundations for grants. Jayden made contact with some wealthy people he knew from his childhood, people who admired him, and some made very generous contributions to the Foundation. When there was almost enough money for the land, an anonymous donor bought it and gave it to the Foundation with the stipulation that our earnest money be returned and ten acres be deeded to Drs. Jayden and Derek Wilson for a home of their own. His gift freed the money in hand to begin serious planning and construction.
We had not considered building a house, but when we realized we would be at Asilo for a number of years, we decided we would. The real debate between the two of us came when we began considering selling our place in Norfolk. We had a steady income from it, which had been invested, but Penny and Jeremy had finished their time in Norfolk the year before and the couple managing the house just didn’t put the care into it that was needed.
We finally flew to Virginia and talked with our dads and decided to put the house on the market. We drove to Norfolk and while we were looking over the house, got a phone call from Louis. He heard we were in town and invited us to dinner. Over dinner, we told him why we were in town and he laughed. “Perfect! I have just been granted tenure and my father died last year and the will was settled last week. Caroline and I were going house shopping soon. What’s your asking price?”
“The assessor has come up with a suggested asking price of twenty percent above the appraised value, but give me and Jayden until in the morning to see what we can do.” Since there was no realtor fee or commission involved, we decided they could have the house for the assessed value. We closed the deal and flew back to New Mexico.
Planning our house was great fun and we spent hours on it. Before we really got into planning the house itself, Jayden had demanded a swimming pool with a seven and a half meter, if not ten, diving platform. “That, Dr. Wilson, is nonnegotiable!” Jayden said, “You are going to get back to swimming and diving.” I didn’t argue. Instead, I gave my beloved Diné a kiss which became more and more passionate and resulted in house planning taking a backseat for an hour.
When we got back to house planning, I said, “Okay, with an arrangement which allows it to be enclosed so it can be used year around. I want another extra. I’m sure we’ll have visitors so I was thinking of two guest rooms, but how about a guest house?”
“Great idea,” Jayden said. “We have to have a library not unlike the one we had in Norfolk. That’s a must.”
“Agreed. Also, a large, well-equipped kitchen, living room, formal dining room and a breakfast room with a whole wall or two walls of glass looking toward the mountains,” I added.
“A large family room, also with a lot of glass, and a master suite with Jacuzzi ...“ Jayden paused, looked at me strangely and got a very weird smile on his face, then asked, “Derek, think we’ll ever want kids?”
I looked at Jayden, grinned, kissed him and asked, “Kids? You want kids?”
“Yeah. They don’t have to be ours. I don’t care where the sperm comes from, but yeah, I’d like a kid or maybe two.”
“I love you, Derek Edward Wilson! Yeah, I’d like a kid or two and I don’t care whose sperm produces him. We do want hims don’t we?” During our continuing discussion, somehow we added two more potential kids to our growing family, then decided maybe we’d better add more bedrooms in case one of us got pregnant. “We have been and will be exposed enough,” I said, laughing.
When we had an idea of the space we wanted, we called Peter and Philip and they flew out to look over the possible sites and began sketching plans. They flew out four more times before we had the final plans. The four of us met with an architect in Albuquerque and contracted with him to be the supervising architect.
While our plans were being created, Lupe was working with an architect to draw up plans for Kiihu, a new facility she was establishing for Hopi youth. She suggested we contact him as a possible architect for Asilo. His suggested plan was unlike the Pueblo buildings. Asilo would be housed in a cluster of round stone buildings reflecting another building style of the Ancient Ones, ruins of which are still found in the area.
Asilo was isolated. There was no housing available for construction workers, so trailers were brought in to house them and the construction office. Jayden and I ordered one as well. Wisely, construction at Asilo began with the kitchen and refectory. As soon as they were completed, they were put to use to feed the workers.
Construction of our house started at the same time as construction at Asilo and was done with the same care for the environment. Geothermal heating and cooling, water recycling, use of sunlight where possible and such practices pervaded the construction.
Peter and Philip had kept in touch with us and the architect as the house plan was transformed into reality. Jayden was surprised how well they had adapted to themes of the southwest without making it look like a home builder’s display model. The house, furnishing and décor spoke very clearly of us. When the house and grounds were completed, we were very, very pleased.
Asilo was designed for ninety boys, one hundred max, ideally ten of each age twelve through twenty. It and the clinic had been in full operation for six months and doing extremely well when we became fathers. We had been working with an agency trying to adopt a baby for several months and had all the inspections and paperwork done. The only holdup was the lack of a baby and it seemed one wasn't forthcoming.
One evening we were not anticipating any interference from outside and had spent time and energy in lovemaking, a wonderful meal, more lovemaking and a nightcap before bed. Once in bed, we found we weren’t quite ready for sleep and were making out again when the phone rang. It was Shelia, the social worker we had been assigned and she asked if she could come out. “I have a problem I think you might help me with.”
‘Coming out’ involved an hour long trip, but two hours later we were getting an eight-year-old African-American-Diné child settled in bed. As soon as he was down, we sat down with Shelia and learned Andrew’s mother had died and his alcoholic and abusive father had beaten him frequently. Now his father had killed a man in a drunken fight, was in jail and not likely to get out anytime soon. “Guys, Andrew has no place to go. So far as I could determine, he has no relatives on his father’s side and his mother’s relatives, including her own mother, say they are not taking her half-breed black bastard into their home. I filled out papers making you his foster parents. You can adopt Andrew in six months to a year.” We were daddies.
Andrew was awake and ready to go to school the next morning at 6:00. We new dads were definitely not awake. We got him in bed with us, expecting him to go back to sleep but instead, he worried about school. We finally got up at seven, fixed breakfast and realized we had a child care problem. Asilo was so isolated we would have had to drive Andrew miles to catch a bus which would travel many more miles to school. In four years he could join his age group at Asilo for classes, but that was four years in the future. This problem required more thought and more time than we had before we had to be in our offices. Jayden said many days Andrew could go with him, but this was not one of them. “Andrew, we’ll have to work on this school thing, but for today, you are going to work with me,” I said.
Sandra and Andrew took to each other like long lost relatives. I spent as much time with him as I could at the office, but that was very little. Sandra, however, never seemed to be so occupied she ignored Andrew, but her work got done anyway. Even if it was not all bad, Andrew going to the office with one of his dads was not a solution.
When Jayden called Shelia and literally yelled, “Help!” she immediately thought of Ms. Tillery, a retired elementary school teacher who was living alone and hating it. For the first couple of years of her retirement she enjoyed it thoroughly, traveling with her husband, working in magnificent kitchen, herb and flower gardens. When her husband died, she enjoyed her solitude for a few years, but now she was bored and depressed. She had volunteered for a tutoring program Shelia kept tabs on and when she quit, Shelia went by to see her and found her unkempt and uninterested.
Shelia phoned her and told her she had a real problem on her hands, and asked her to help. She called us while the family—that sure had a nice sound—was at dinner and we let it go to voice mail as we always did if we were eating. After we had finished dinner and cleaned up, I checked voice mail and found Shelia’s message which was to ask one of us call her.
When I called, she said when Jayden had called she had immediately thought of Ms. Tillery and had gone to talk with her. “I described the situation, told her about Andrew and what I saw as his potential. Ms. Tillery knew about Asilo from articles in the newspaper and a TV program on its opening and another a year later following up on the first which was very supportive of it. I then said, ‘And I know you’ll love Andrew’s daddies.’ That took her aback for a bit, but after I told her you were both doctors and were an old married couple, she decided it was unusual, but not necessarily bad. ‘What they need,’ I told her, ‘is someone who can home-school Andrew as well as keep an eye on him while the doctors work.’ She asked for time to think about it, but while she did not say so, I knew she had decided already.”
Ms. Tillery came out the next day to meet with us, arriving shortly after Jayden and I got home. She was spending the night and would spend the next day with Andrew.
After we had talked for half an hour, Jayden and I were convinced she was tailor-made for the job, so we made her an offer. When we told her the package, she said, “That’s fine. I won’t need the insurance, I have a good policy from my years of teaching. What about my living space?”
“We have talked about that. Ms. Tillery, we want you to be comfortable. We thought we’d offer you a month to try us out, see how you and Andrew get along and for you to decide if this is something you want to do. We called our friends who designed our house and asked about their drawing up plans for two mother-in-law suites. If all goes well, one should be finished by the end of the month or shortly after. If you decided you want to take us on, that would be yours. Until then, you can have two adjoining bedrooms or the guest house, whichever you prefer.”
When we got home the next day, we sat down with her and talked for an hour about her day. “Shelia was quite right in saying Andrew is a very bright young man. I do hope, however, he will be seeing someone about the emotional trauma he had suffered.”
“He will be,” Jayden said, “but I am surprised he spoke to you about it. He had said very little to either of us.”
“Oh, he didn’t say anything, Dr. Wilson, but I taught elementary school for thirty-two years. If you care about those children entrusted to your care, you learn to read the signs of their trouble.”
I glanced at Jayden and he said, “Ms. Tillery, the job is yours if you want it. If the salary, housing, whatever is holding you back, we’ll try to take care of it.”
“Dr. Wilson, I could play coy and all, but I won’t. I am happy to accept.”
“Welcome to the family, Ms. Tillery, and you should call us Jayden and Derek. We both answer to Dr. Wilson,” I said. She never got that informal but, as others did, she called us Dr. Jayden and Dr. Derek. I told Jayden a couple months later we had made only one decision as wise as the one to make Ms. Tillery part of the family and that was the decision to marry.
Nine months later we were beginning to get used to being parents. Well, it was easy. Ms. Tillery made our life much easier and fuller and Andrew blossomed under her academically and emotionally. Andrew also made being daddy easy. He was a good kid, seldom had to be corrected and was very loving. He kinda lulled us into believing being a daddy was a snap. Boy, was that illusion to be shattered.
Shelia called again and said she had a what she thought was a Hopi-Mexican boy probably about six. A woman had seen him entering an abandoned house and called the police who had finally managed to corral him. “The only names he has, he says, are Fuckup and Shithead. ‘That’s what the woman called me,’ he says. When found he was suffering from exposure and malnutrition, and had lice and gonorrhea. He has been in a couple of foster homes, but it hadn’t worked out. In fact, I’ll be honest, he was in the first for two days and in the last for three. He’s immature in many ways and way more knowledgeable than he should be in others. He demands attention and there is evidence he has had little or none in the past. I’ll not kid you, he is high maintenance.” She really put the pressure on by reminding us of how our lives had been enriched by Andrew and that we were about the only hope she held out for the kid.
She called at 10:00, later admitting the foster father had called and said she could either come get the kid or they were taking him to the sheriff. It was after midnight when she arrived with the boy, so I took him directly to bed. After he was settled, Shelia told us what she knew of him, which was little. “He has ‘boy dob’ and a double of symbols tattooed on the inside of his upper right thigh. It looks professionally done. Our agency faxed a copy of the tattoo to an expert at the university and he says it is a date by the Mayan calendar. Best he could figure out, he was born in September and was six his last birthday. We’re working on a birth certificate—man, talk about red tape. Maybe he can remember his name, but so far he just says he’s called Fuckup or Shithead. Probably just going to have to choose a name. In either case, let me know.
“From what has been pieced together, he belonged to a group, maybe cult, of nomads. Apparently he got overlooked when they moved on. He has good survival skills if what he says is true since he said he had been in the abandoned building two moons. He’s very bright, but apparently has been left to raise himself. I’ll be honest, I said ‘high maintenance.’ That translates into ‘a handful’.”
When Andrew arrived on the scene, we had hired a two-day a week housekeeper to do the added cleaning and with the new kid being added, we asked her if she would come full time to do the added work his presence required, take care of lunches and help Ms. Tillery with child care. When I asked, she said, “Dr. Derek, I have raised six of my own. If it was just the house work and cooking, I would be delighted, but no child care.”
It was soon, like the next morning, when it became obvious that we had to do something about child care. Ms. Tillery was willing to put in extra effort and Jayden and I did all we could to relieve the pressure, but what Shelia had meant by high maintenance soon became clear. Among other things, the kid could throw fits that put any three year old to shame.
When we asked Shelia if she had any ideas, she looked into some possibilities and located Mr. and Mrs. Chusi, a retired Hopi couple who had become bored plus needed the money. He had been an industrial arts teacher and Jayden immediately got him a job at Asilo. She was a retired middle school Life Skills teacher. “Before boys took it, it was called Home Economics,” she said.
Jayden or I frequently asked the kid if he remembered his name and he always responded, his irritation ever-increasing, “I told you I was always called Fuckup or Shithead.”
One evening I said to him, “Kid”—kid had become his working name—“you need a real name. In fact you need three. What would you like your name to be?”
“Jayden Derek Wilson,” he shouted throwing his arms in the air.
“Well, we have a Jayden Wilson and a Derek Wilson,” I replied. “Won’t that be confusing?”
“Not if you call me Jay,” he answered in a rather cocky manner. Jayden Derek Wilson he was to be.
When Andrew heard Jay was to be a Wilson, the usually quiet and even tempered boy pitched a fit which equaled any of Jay’s. “I am a Wilson too!” he yelled. Nothing would convince him he had a perfectly good last name. He was Andrew Wilson, period, full-stop, end of discussion. He did calm down long enough for Jayden to explain that since he had a name, it would take awhile, but he would be a Wilson. Shelia rushed the paper work and one of the birthday presents the nine-year old received was the official adoption certification naming him Andrew Jeremy Wilson.
Jay continued to be a real handful and Ms. Tillery, Mrs. Chusi, Jayden and I all questioned whether we could handle him. We were doing all we could to support each other, but Jay was determined not to obey anyone, to do as he pleased. He was often destructive. Smaller and younger, he nonetheless quite often cowed Andrew; Andrew of the Infinite Patience Jayden called him. It had finally reached the point that we had called a meeting for all of us with Shelia for Friday afternoon. Mr. and Mrs. Chusi had taken Jay to their suite Tuesday night since neither Jayden nor I had gotten any sleep the night before. Jayden and I planned to get home early Wednesday to relieve Mrs. Chusi and I got off even earlier than I anticipated. When I got home I found Mrs. Chusi trying to start dinner while Jay sat buckled in the time out chair screaming at the top of his lungs. Andrew sat in front of the TV holding headphones tightly against his ears. “Where is the black ogre when he is needed?” I yelled at Mrs. Chusi in order to be heard over Jay.
Recalling an earlier brat, I lifted the timeout chair and took it outside and placed it where I could keep an eye on Jay yet where we could be heard in the kitchen without yelling at each other. I tapped Andrew on the shoulder and asked if he’d like to get dressed for the pool and he headed off to his room. In the kitchen, I told Mrs. Chusi to go on home—her home being the second mother-in-law suite. “We’ll make do for dinner and I know you have to be exhausted. How long was Jay’s time out?”
“Ten minutes. I never give him more than ten minutes, but he has been in the chair for thirty, screaming most of the time.”
I brought the chair back and placed it in the family room. Jay stopped screaming for a minute to ask, “What’s Andrew doing?”
“He’s doing what I’m going to be doing. He’s getting dressed for the pool.”
“I’m going to get dressed too,” he said, as he tried to climb out of the chair, but the belt kept him in. “Get this motherfucking belt off me so I can get dressed.”
I looked at him and said, “I wouldn’t do it after you demanded it in the voice and words you used, but I’ll not do it anyway because you have ten minutes of quiet time in time out. After you finish time out, I’ll see about the pool.” Jay started screaming and I yelled so he could hear, “Time out starts over every time you scream or yell.” Knowing he was safe and leaving my door open so I could see him, I went to my room and to get dressed for the pool.
When Jayden walked in he said, “Hi, Jay. Where Derek?”
“Getting dressed for the pool. Unbuckle me so I can get dressed.”
“Can’t do that because I guess you have time out.” He came into the bedroom and grabbed my Speedo clad ass before giving me a passionate kiss. “Been bad?” I nodded. We sat, making out and keeping half an eye on Jay. Before things got too far out of hand, Jayden stripped and pulled on Speedos, having a ‘hard’ time of it!
When he was dressed, I stepped into the hall and called out, “Andrew, time to hit the pool.” When I got to the family room I said, “Good boy Jay, you did your time.” I lifted him out of the chair, hugged him and kissed him on the head before setting his feet on the floor. I smacked his cute little butt and said, “Get your Speedos on, Jay.”
Andrew had obviously had swimming lessons and a good coach sometime in his young life because he not only swam well, but had excellent form. As soon as he was old enough he was going to make a big difference in the Asilo swimming team. I had tried to teach him to dive, but after a short while he said, ‘Dad, I really don’t like diving, I just like to swim.’ As soon as he was in the water he started swimming laps, working on his speed and form.
Jay was a more than adequate swimmer. I was confident enough that his swimming in the deep end of the pool did not worry me. But form? He tackled swimming the same as he did most things from digging in the garden to pitching a fit, full steam ahead.
Both boys had pretty much used all their excess energy and were playing with a ball in the shallow end of the pool while Jayden and I were sunning themselves. Like two lovesick teenagers, we lay gazing at each other and exchanging kisses from time to time. I had leaned over to kiss Jayden again when Jay called out, “Hey, Daddies, watch me.” I was shocked as it was the first time Jay had called either of us Daddy, but my heart stopped when I saw him. The not-yet-seven-year-old was on the seven and a half meter platform ready to dive. Before either Jayden or I could yell for him to stop, he dove. As he broke the surface of the water, Jayden looked at me, grinned and said, “Sorry, Dad, I don’t think I can give the kid more than a five.” I simply nodded, mouth open, then added, “Maybe a 5.5.” That heart-stopping dive marked a turning point for the family as Jay lived to dive. We decided Jay had to earn points to be permitted to dive since it seemed to be the one thing that he valued.
Jay still had problems and even quiet Andrew had his share, but given their backgrounds, that was to be expected. Nevertheless, Jayden and I did not regret becoming daddies and life was definitely better with them in our lives.
A few weeks after we had celebrated Andrew’s ninth birthday, Jayden and I were having drinks by the pool with Michael Stuart, a psychology graduate student interning at Asilo. We were all watching Andrew swim and Jay dive—both putting on quite a show—when the phone rang. I excused myself and answered it. When I ended the call, I said to Jayden, “Shelia is on her way over.” An hour later the Wilson family and Michael had just sat down to dinner when the doorbell rang and Shelia came in without waiting for me to open the door. I insisted Shelia join us for dinner and Jayden set another place. When she started to object, I said, “Well, you can cool your heels in the living room, Shelia, but I am having dinner. You don’t have a kid in the car, do you.”
“Well, not exactly a kid,” she said.
“Okay,” Jayden put his fork down and said, “Shelia, what gives?”
“Rose Marie is in the car with, well, with three kids.”
“Shelia, you brought three kids out here without asking?”
“Well, it was that or I don’t know what.”
“Okay, bring them in. Boys, would you take your plates to the breakfast room and set four more places? Miss Rose Marie and three kids will be having dinner with you.”
Before everyone got settled in bed, the family had been expanded by three: Sherry seven—a few months older than Jay; Kenneth, a boy, nine, four months younger than Andrew and six year-old Bryon. When Derek reminded Shelia we were out of bedrooms, she said it was okay because Kenneth would never allow anyone to separate him from Bryon. “Kenneth is Bryon and Sherry’s protector.” When they were all in bed, Shelia told us just how protective Kenneth was. “He shot his father in the knee to keep him from sexually abusing the two younger children.”
By the fifth anniversary of the opening of Asilo, it like the Pueblo and Kiihu, had gained national notice. Jayden had published articles in professional journals, a couple of which had been picked up and popularized on national news. Newspaper articles in Arizona and New Mexico newspapers and a segment of a TV news show resulted in a short segment on one of the national nightly news programs. As a result of the publicity, there was a constant stream of requests to all three youth centers for interviews, observations, etc.
Finally, Lupe and Jayden met halfway between Asilo and Kiihu to discuss the situation and decided they would accept four carefully selected visitor/observers for no more than three days each month. They were even more restrictive of the media. Few people understood how disruptive observers could be to those in the program and the staff, and after several visitors ignored instructions, Lupe and Jayden both had had enough and decided there would be no interviews or observations for at least six months.
It was actually nine months before they reluctantly agreed to discuss the possibility of a segment on ‘60 Minutes'. After several video conferences and one face-to-face with the producer, Lupe and Jayden laid down some very definite conditions and time was scheduled for Lesley Stahl, anchor, her cameraman and an assistant to spend time at the two centers.
The cameraman and his assistant were accommodated at Asilo, but Jayden offered Lesley Stahl the guest house and invited her for drinks and dinner the day she arrived. She was captivated by the Wilson home and family. In fact, she spent every free minute with the family. She proved to be a great storyteller, even holding the attention of two testosterone-laden teenagers. Halfway through her stay, she asked about including a bit about the family in her segment. I told her we would think about it.
Turned out, Lesley Stahl’s segment got expanded and included almost as much about the Wilson family as it did about Asilo and Kiihu. That report began a chain of events which led to the request for a video conference.
At 2:00, Derek and Jayden were seated in their library before a large screen. Given how scattered their friends and family were, they had found video conferencing was a wonderful way to stay in contact. At 1:55, the screen flickered and a face appeared. “Greeting, Drs. Wilson. I am Alexander Kopler of the Department of Health and Human Services. I hope you and your family are well.”
“We are,” Derek answered. “We’re planning on taking the kids and their friends camping this weekend so they are busy repacking the things they have packed and repacked a dozen times since we decided to go.”
“How old are they now?”
I just looked confused and Jayden laughed and said, “Bryon, our youngest, is almost ten, Jay and Sherry are eleven; and Andrew, our first, and Kenneth are our teenagers, Kenneth turned thirteen last week.”
The clock behind Mr Kopler indicated it was two on the dot and the doctor said, “Drs. Wilson, the President of the United States.”
“Doctors, thank you for agreeing to this video conference,” the President said. “I have been reading about your work and your family after seeing Lesley Stahl’s report. My staff indicates that both the clinic and Asilo have continued to do great work as have the clinics and centers established by Dr. Kathryn Joseph and Mrs. Lupe Singer. I will be talking with them later, but I am interested in both your family and your work and would like to invite you all to the White House for dinner after which I’d like to spend time with you. I expect the children for dinner and my wife would like to entertain them afterward while we talk.”
“We are honored, Mr. President,” Jayden replied. They chatted a few minutes and then a member of the staff and Jayden made arrangements for the visit.
A month later they were dressing for dinner. The Wilson men, all six of them, were getting dressed in tuxes while Sherry was in the next room being dressed in her formal gown by Ms. Tallery who, herself, was already dressed in an attractive peach colored gown.
When they were all dressed, they went downstairs for a family portrait before having individual photos taken. While the children were being photographed, Jayden and Derek stood arm in arm smiling at their children. Jayden looked up at Derek and kissed him and said, “Just think, Beloved, it all started because you cared enough to pick up a broken boy in the desert.”
“And look at the joy that has brought to me and many others, my Beloved Diné.”
Shortly afterward, a happy, beautiful Wilson family were in a receiving line being greeted by the President of the United States and his First Lady.