If you think you recognize someone in this journal, you are wrong, as I have changed each enough that if you have a match, well then you don't. See? I made these changes knowing that anything written would eventually fall into the wrong hands. Oh yes, I did make this all up! It is fiction, you know.
My name doesn't matter. This is not about me. It is about one of the Girls.
It is part of an archive of stories that cannot, must not, be published for maybe another century, but needs to be recorded now, or the histories of these women, Jake's Girls, will forever be lost.
It is the hope of some of the Girls that laws will change and what they have lived will become legal. In the meantime, it is not legal and so these stories are for the ages, just not this age.
I won't describe who Jake's Girls are here. (Or should I say 'were'? If you are reading this a hundred years hence, they will all be dead. But what if the document is published too soon?) If you need to know, and this story will make no sense unless you do know, you should read Jake's Journal #2. I will assume you do know and go on from there.
Jezelle was a mother from the fourth graduating class of Jun's academy. Her daughter, Akiko, was a real stunner, but then all the daughters were. Jezelle married a Geoff Webster of Tivoli, New York. Geoff was a Civil Engineer, and by all accounts, a very good one. Their marriage was a good one too. There were no problems ... at least the girls say there were none, and that's all we have to go on. Geoff was, of course, in Jake's way, also 'married' to Akiko.
Akiko adored her father/husband. You can say she worshiped him. She knew where she and her mom had come from. She knew that she never would have had a chance to graduate from Red Hook High School. She wouldn't have been accepted to both Vassar College and Bard College and she certainly would not have been able to pay for either except for Geoff. She knew there was food and good food on their table every night. She never had to ask if there was supper, only what was 'for supper'. She had new clothes each season of the year. She had a soft bed on which to sleep, her own computer, and by seventeen, she had a driver's license and a car. None of those things would have happened if she was still living in the Nippa hut outside of Tacloban, on Mindanao, as she had been until she was selected to study at Jun's school. And even then, if it wasn't for Geoff, all the rest would not have mattered. It was Geoff who made all she had and was today.
Akiko knew right down into the marrow of her bones, why she was where she was, and what it took to get there. She never, ever resented it or rejected it. Geoff was her mother's one and only. Geoff was her one and only as well. Jun and Jake might have been the Saints who helped them find Geoff, but it was Geoff who caused the rains to come and the sun to shine. Geoff was their God. Akiko knew that.
For twenty years, Akiko was married to Geoff, as was her mother. They kept his house, did his shopping, washed his cars, did his laundry, cooked his food and gave him children. Geoff was their life and they never left his side.
For his part, Geoff knew that he was a very lucky guy. He loved his girls with a devoted ferocity that knew no bounds.
And then he was dead.
A heart attack took him in his seventy-sixth year. There had been no warning. He was at work in his office in Red Hook when he collapsed that late October day. He was rushed to Northern Dutchess County Hospital in Rhinebeck but it was too late. Geoff was dead.
Jezelle and Akiko were not poor now. Geoff had been a conservative man and he left them with savings, with the house paid for and a life insurance policy of three quarters of a million dollars. The girls were safe. If they had needed help, the network of Jake's Girls would have taken care of them anyway.
Jezelle was forty-five and Akiko was thirty-two at the time. Jezelle and Geoff's two sons, Brad and Charley, were nineteen and sixteen. Akiko and Geoff's daughter, Cynthia, was ten.
Brad was in his second year at Brown. Charley was a Junior in Red Hook High and Cynthia attended Mill Road Elementary School as a fifth grader. Brad took a week off from Brown and was home for the funeral, but Jezelle spoke to the counseling center at Brown and with their help, Brad returned to Brown, albeit with a lot of counseling services and many trips that year across the Mass Turnpike and then down the Taconic Parkway. Brad was a good boy, smart and agile.
Jezelle was adamant that he not allow his father's untimely death divert him from his path to success. Jezelle knew what it took to succeed and never stopped making sure her children got their shot at the gold ring. The money from the insurance policy allowed her to pay the tuition at Brown. It was not easy to see that much money just flow out, but it was an investment in her son and so it was done.
Charley was not forgotten either. With the help of a local clinical therapist, and the support of his mother and Akiko, Charley pulled through the Junior year without his grades falling and with a good shot at college.
Jezelle and Akiko did not work outside the home. There was no new money, but they were not worrying about that. They kept their eyes on Charley making sure he was OK. And he was. Charley had his mother's intelligence and every possible advantage society could afford him. His SAT's were good, if not perfect. His grades were strong. Charley applied for and got into the college he had hoped for, Oberlin. When his friends suggested that Bard was the same as Oberlin but a lot closer, Charley just winked and said, ' ... And your point is?' He knew, as did Jezelle, that he was ready to cut the apron strings. While it hurt, she was also proud that he had made the choice. So twenty-one months after the death of her husband she had two sons in college. It was making a dreadful impact on the family's finances, but she would get the boys through school. That's what mattered.
In this part of the country, folks take Halloween very seriously and decorations dotted the countryside with the season's colors and themes; making Washington Irving's tales seem to come alive. The local orchards were busy. Some apples picked for cider and others were the best for eating. Macoun Apples were so good to eat right from the tree but had no shelf life. When they came into season, which was right now, the girls could not get enough of them.
But the big house, overlooking the Hudson, on the west side of Tivoli felt empty that late October evening. Both boys off and gone to school, it was just the females at the dinner table.
The girls loved this time of year, but tonight as the shadows gave way to true night, they were feeling sad, more than a bit lonely, and very quiet. It was the second anniversary of Geoff's death. Jezelle and Akiko had been Geoff's bedroom partners for twenty years and they had more than enjoyed their matrimonial duties. Now for two years there had been no man for them, not that they had wanted one in the beginning, but by now they were sorely missing the joys of a happy bedroom.
Cynthia looked upon the dour countenances of her mother and grandmother and for the first time asked a question, she had wanted to ask ever since she was old enough to formulate it. Cynthia was now in seventh grade at Linden Avenue Middle School. She was twelve years old and her brain was on fire.
Mom, Gran, how did it happen? I mean how did you both end up being wives to Dad? And Gran, how can you be Mom's mom? You are only thirteen years older than Mom is.
Is there a good time for a child to ask such a question? Probably not. But this was possibly the most apropos time and they both knew it. The two women looked at each other over that huge harvest table and with eyebrows and pursed lips communicated as only two Filipinas do. To translate, the first eyebrow went up on Akiko. It was a question: Yes? Should we? Jezelle's eyebrows came up firmer and twice: Yes, we should. Then Akiko gently pursed her lips: Will you tell it? Jezelle pursed hers: You tell. Akiko pursed harder: No, you tell please.
Jezelle spoke in a way that Cynthia had not heard before. Her Gran, Jezelle, was a woman of very few words. But the tale that was woven that night over macoun apples, aged cheddar cheese, strawberry jam and potato bread was the stuff of old legends and gothic novels. Cynthia learned about Nippa huts, the town of Tacloban, the island of Mindanao, of grinding poverty and desperation; of a foreigner and his strange family who for special, bright and pretty girls and their mothers offered a way out of the desperation of lives without options and within months changed their lives forever. Cynthia learned about whom she was; how she came to exist and about the slippery slope, we call morals, which can tangle you up in knots if you allow it. No, no one was hurt. Cynthia's father had still been a good man. But, he was a good man with a secret, and Cynthia now knew she was the daughter of that secret. Now there were three women at the table sharing that one big secret.
And so it was, that a bond that had held two of them, was extended to and if not holding then at least touching and informing the third. But ... this is the beginning of their tale, not the tale itself. This is where they are at the end on one epoch and the dawning of a new one.
.... There is more of this story ...