There are times when being a community worker sucks. Jacko’s situation being one of these, and worst of all it was preventable,
I knew it wouldn’t work. That far from regretting giving him up all those years ago his birth mother Wendy remained bitter at his continued existence. I met her just the once and should've refused to even discuss it further. Except for years Jacko had lived for a reunion with Real Mummy as he referred to Wendy and I didn’t have the heart to add more disappointment to his life.
Wendy’d been fifteen when he was born, and on top of desertion by his dad she’d found herself landed with a special needs baby. It didn’t matter that Jacko was a happy little fellow with the biggest smile.
Back then they still called kids like him retard. She exited from his
life with indecent haste and blamed all the setbacks that followed on his birth. If she hadn’t had the retard she would’ve touched the sky, and pigs might’ve also flown.
Except the retard as she thought of Jacko if she thought of him at all proved both tenacious and resourceful. Over a slow process of elimination lasting 20 years he tracked her down. As he told me during an appointment to discuss our meeting he said “She’s my mum and I want to meet her. She’d be happy if I cooked her a nice meal.”
Which to his way of thinking that meant a big roast dinner. Food brought people together, no dish more so than the roasts served up in his foster home on Sundays. I found out later that rather than just a nice idea Jacko had started forming an actual plan. During an
appointment he’d also managed to snoop in his file for her address. At 40 he still didn’t grasp concepts like boundaries and andconfidentiality. I knew this and should’ve kept things out of
reach. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, didn’t and now Wendy’s dead, Jacko’s had everything meaningful taken away and my career’s in the toilet.
Because another thing I missed (and this is a biggie) were his recces
or to be more precise stalking episodes and I had to admire his cunning. Following his address harvest he took a casual dog walking gig in Wendy’s neighbourhood. Nobody thought twice about another dog walker and he was able to observe her comings and goings in plain sight…including where she kept the spare key.
Getting a copy cut was no problem, and what a happy coincidence his latest birthday falling on a Sunday. He’d turn 41, alot of years to make up with mum.
From his observations he’d learned that after church on a Sunday Wendy visited friends, arriving home around 6pm…..dinner time.
‘ A roast like Mummy Marsh’s brought people together. Me and real mummy have years of together to make up. Real Mummy will get such a big surprise walking in to a feast and her boy all grown up. I know she misses me because she’d never sign for the Marshes to adopt me.’
By all accounts he‘d done her proud, and having left a key under the mat it didn’t quite add up to breaking and entering. From what I heard second hand (and Jacko was quite incoherent in the telling) he’d gone in at midday, prepared a side of lamb with all the trimmings. (Lamb isn’t cheap, He must’ve been saving for ages), rummaged until he found a nice table cloth and what he considered to be Wendy’s best cutlery and crocks. Then he took a shower, changed into a suit and bow tie courtesy of an op shop and waited. When he heard her car in the driveway he put a CD in the player, lit the candles and took the bottle of wine from her fridge. He hoped she liked Moet & Chandon. It’d cost a fortune, but he wanted real French stuff for a proper toast with Real Mummy. ‘To us Real Mummy and her boy never apart again and our first birthday together,”
”What the effn’ hell.”
He didn’t register the shock or outrage, blithely dishing up as Wendy followed the smells wafting from her kitchen. What was going on here? Some whack job she’d never met be playing man of the house here? In a used penguin suit and complete with wine to boot This was weird. Then the apparition spoke.
“Surprise Real Mummy. It’s my birthday and I’ve come to celebrate with you.” After which he poured wine into a glass and held it out. “I got real French stuff so we can have a toast, and there’s plenty of food. It brings people together so I made us a big roast for all those years…..”
Except the envisaged smile never came. Instead Wendy fixed him with an ugly grimce, sweeping the glass from his hand. The Retard, and after telling that do gooding social worker she didn’t want no mother and child reunion. Real Mummy my arse. He could take his real French slop and his roast and shove the lot
Confused Jacko invited her to sit down, explaining now that they were having a lamb roast, and he was sorry if she didn’t like the real French wine. They‘d toast with tap water if she preferred.
”Like hell we will….”
Neighbours reported hearing this line, followed by an almighty crash and an enraged cry. “My roast, you‘ve killed my nice big roast real mummy,”
Later police found roast veg and pooling gravy under the table. The lamb roast itself had landed across the room thrown they guessed by Wendy in between name calling (retard, waste of space, prowler, creep, stalker).
There’d followed an almost howl from Jacko, that it’d been a celebration meal for them. To which at some stage Wendy had let rip telling him this was nothing to celebrate, and how dare he push his way into her life. She wanted him gone, like he was supposed to have been all those years ago.
The neighbour was quote on Stuff.
“Then there was what sounded like scuffling and her screaming no son no. No please. That was when I grabbed my phone and called 111.
I think he grabbed the knife at that point and laid into her. Cos next thing I hear shouting. Call me your son now bitch, You’ve just finished saying how you wanted me gone for good, So I’m making your wish come true,”
He more or less repeated this in court, adding the usual tag on cliches. Like how she’d been a good, quiet neighbour, and he wished he could’ve saved her. “I was scared. What if he’d killed me too or worse went on a neighbourhood rampage.”
The dog walk client was horrified at this turn of events, saying he felt used and would stick to doggy daycare in future. Several providers offered 3 months complimentary, the only good thing to come out of this deathly repast. I don’t know who came up with that, but I think it's a cryptic allusion to the actual lamb ending up as pet food. While I could perhaps consider it a fitting reference to what for the Marshes was like a death…..the loss of a son. In all of this besides Jacko my deepest regret is on their account. Because as Jacko's Mummy Marsh said in court the insults Wendy's neighbour heard, words like retard destroyed him. He'd lived for a reunion with real mummy but it turned out a deathly repast indeed.