He was a little blonde boy with a cowlick, just bigger than my biggest doll, Mickie, who was big enough to wear baby clothes. My mother minded Scotty for a year so his mother, my Auntie Toni, could work. Scotty’s parents taught him to give butterfly kisses--to press his face against your cheek and flutter his eyelashes.
I didn’t see much of Scotty as I progressed self-obsessed, through adolescence in high school: studying American History, playing varsity volleyball and basketball and after that, I entered a Catholic convent where I stayed for seven years while he grew up.
When I left the convent, disenchanted, Scotty was in high school living with my aunt and uncle in the bottom apartment of a two flat my parents owned. In the basement of the building, in a wringer washing machine, my mother swished the new underwear I bought to replace the simple cotton bras and panties I wore in the convent. She pressed wooden clothes pins on my delicate undies on the clothes line she used to dry clothes in winter.
Mom found that the aqua and pink patterned bras, underpants and girdles I’d bought were always dripping wet when the rest of the laundry was dry. I knew that Scotty and his teen-age male friends hung out in the musty basement so I approached him the way I might approach the inner city teenagers I was working with and suggested if he knew anything about why my underwear was getting wet he might want to stop whatever was happening to it since I paid good money for it and wanted it to last as long as possible. After that, the underwear dried at the same rate as my Dad’s work socks and my mother’s floral house dresses.
My next contact with Scotty who was now six foot three and brawny, was actually two times not far apart from each other. First, he helped my husband move furniture from his Hyde Park flat to our new apartment in Old Town, Chicago. Now that we were newly-wed-settled, a friend of my husband’s and his wife visited from Montreal to stay with us for a weekend. On a snowy, subzero Saturday in winter, we took Pierre and Violette to Lutz’s Bakery for coffee and black forest cake. When we trudged through the snow back to our old white Oldsmobile, it wouldn’t start, so I called Scotty for help since he was still living just a few blocks away in the old neighborhood. He brought his jumper cables and started the car. We were happy to compensate him as we had when he helped us move.
We moved to New York when Scotty would have been mid-twenties. He applied to the Chicago Police Department and passed all the rigorous tests. His first big assignment was to go with a team to a jewelry store robbery at Holland’s on Michigan Avenue. My auntie told my mother: “He got there and found that the robbers must have been scared away by the alarm. Nothing was missing: emerald earrings, diamond tennis bracelets and ruby rings still glittered in the showcase. His captain said they could help themselves since the owners could claim the loss on insurance.” Scotty quit the police force disillusioned after that and returned to parcel delivery.
I lost touch with Scotty, adjusting to my own challenges over the years, but did send him a holiday card one year with my e-mail address. His wife e-mailed me to say that Scott, my butterfly-boy cousin, had died of a heart attack that year.
Jan’s 337 poems published poems have appeared in various journals, for example: ABZ, Mid-American Review and Parnassus. Three chapbooks and one full length poetry collection, I Wanted to Dance With My Father, were published by Finishing Line Press. Orbis, England, nominated her for the Pushcart in 2020. Jan was a nun for seven years and lived in Australia for fifteen years where her two children were born.