Jimmy grew up in Portland in the Pacific Northwest. He loved it there. The scenery was gorgeous. The air was crisp and fresh. On a cool, fall morning, you could even smell the pine in the air.
He was an only child and his parents divorced when he was three. His father moved to San Francisco but rarely saw Jimmy. Even when Jimmy went to Stanford, his father rarely made time to see him.
Jimmy accepted their relationship long ago. His father, Bill, was a strong man’s man. Bill worked in construction since he dropped out of high school and couldn’t understand what Jimmy wanted to do with his life.
Bill didn’t understand finance. He understood money, though he didn’t have much. He just didn’t understand how someone could make money handling someone else’s money.
Jimmy and Bill almost never saw eye to eye. Their relationship was strained. Partly because Bill only saw Jimmy a couple of weeks out of the year and partly because neither one really had any desire to spend time with the other. They were father and son but couldn’t have been more different.
Jimmy’s mother, Catherine, loved Jimmy very much. But Catherine was a party girl. She and Bill only got married because she became pregnant with Jimmy at nineteen.
Catherine was a beautiful woman. She was truly the type of woman who could make the music stop when she entered a room. She was only about five and a half feet tall with curves in all the right places. Every guy wanted to date her and every girl either wanted to be her or kill her.
Catherine took it as a sign when she and Bill divorced. She was single again and it didn’t matter she had a young son at home. She would find men twice and sometimes three times her age to date. When she had gotten all the jewels, drugs and wine out of them that she could, she moved on to the next man. Sometimes the men became tired of paying for a babysitter for Jimmy, then Catherine would get all dolled up in an evening gown and the men would forget all about their concerns.
Jimmy never wondered what it would have been like to have a normal family because this was the only normal he knew. Jimmy became self sufficient at a very young age. He knew no one was going to take care of him. He did worry about his mother from time to time. He worried she might meet the wrong man or take the wrong drugs or drink too much alcohol and end up in a ditch somewhere in the forest.
Even though Catherine did not do a great job of caring for Jimmy, they did have special moments together. Jimmy fondly remembers his birthdays. His mother was sure to invite all his friends and make sure it was the best birthday party in town every year. He always had the best entertainment, the biggest cake and the most balloons.
When Jimmy graduated high school and decided upon Stanford, he was hopeful it might lead to a position with a large investment firm in San Francisco. He interned every summer and was offered several positions.
But one week prior to graduation, he received a phone call that his mother’s fast lifestyle had finally caught up with her. Catherine and the man she was seeing at the time were leaving a party on the coast heading back to Portland. It was late. It was dark. It was raining. Catherine had already passed out while her boyfriend drove his new Porsche. He was very drunk. He never saw the sharp turn sign on Highway 18 just south of Willamina. The car ran straight off the road and into the South Yamhill River.
Jimmy was saddened but not all that surprised as to how it ended for his mother. Frankly, and he would never admit this to anyone, he was a little relieved. No longer did he need to worry about her and who she was with or what she was doing. She lived her life the way she wanted to and he respected that even though it caused him pain.
Jimmy missed his graduation ceremony to go back to Portland to attend his mother’s funeral. Bill went as well but they drove separately. This would be the first time Jimmy and Bill saw each other in over two years.
It was a cold and rainy May afternoon. Jimmy had lovely things to say about his mother and his words brought tears to many eyes. He was surrounded by friends and extended family but somehow felt so alone.
Jimmy was asked by a distant cousin how his father was doing and what he was up to, just normal small talk. Jimmy had no idea. It was at this moment Jimmy realized he had no family left. That was the moment Jimmy knew he was going to take the job with Elizabeth Katanees and Associates in Fort Lauderdale. It was almost as far away as he could get from Portland.