In the spring of Jim LeCain’s life, before he was ever Jim LeCain, a blonde baby with baby blue eyes was born in Brooklyn, New York. A baby boy born to two older brothers, both of whom would grow up to be called Chuck. He was born to a father who would go on to die too soon and a mother who spent her life changing the story of who she was and where she came from. She named him after a children’s book character – Jimmy John, or in the case of Jim LeCain, James John LeCain.
His mother and father met outside a movie theatre in New York City. The year was 1942; Jim LeCain’s dad an usher and her, a teenager with brown hair tucked behind her ears and piercing blue eyes. She followed her sisters to New York City from a small Pennsylvania town that her parents had found after coming to America from Czechoslovakia. The youngest daughter of six would go on to wear fur coats, attend the funerals of men on the FBI watch list, and would steal her sister’s birth certificate in case the need for an alias ever arose. Jim LeCain’s father was a patient man, when Helen, his wife, decided to uproot the family because her heart belonged in Nova Scotia, he followed suit, and then when she changed her mind, he followed her back; although, all three of their boys would go on to go to boarding school in the place that stole Helen’s heart – Nova Scotia, Canada. The same Nova Scotia where a girl named Abbie Gail was having a childhood all her own under the watch of one Maude and Bill Wilson.
Jim’s childhood was the stuff of fiction, he grew up in a house with his mother, father, two brothers, grandparents, and dogs. His grandfather worked for the United Fruit Company, which meant that he was maybe a secret agent. Jim noticed, even as a child, that his grandparents could pack up and leave without anyone ever noticing.
Jim LeCain started boarding school the year he turned twelve and the year he turned fifteen he sat in that same boarding school when the headmaster delivered the news that his father had died. Reflecting on it years later, he revealed that he knew he told his father he loved him the last time he saw him because somehow he knew it would be the last time he saw him, the last time he would say goodbye. He remembered playing hockey for the Windsor Royals and having the last name LeCain across his hockey jersey, when a man yelled at him, asking about his last name, Jim LeCain thought he was asking for a fight, but when the man confirmed his father was who his father was, he said, “Well, if you’re half the man he was, you’ll turn out okay.” Jim LeCain turned out more than okay.
Jim LeCain’s childhood best friend affectionately remembers Jim dangling a bully from a staircase who didn’t pick on someone his own size, meanwhile Jim would grow up to entertain his children with stories of how he would prank the French teacher: Monsieur Citron. From locking his door from the outside and pulling the fire alarm, to dangling potato sacks over his car and dropping them to scare him, Jim LeCain was an all-American, scratch that, Canadian boy.
In the summer of Jim LeCain’s life he met a girl, but not the girl. Her name was Sigrid, her family had a plane and seemingly owned a large part of Newfoundland; they went to each other’s formals together and her family was wealthier than his. When, at the end of term, a professor asked how it felt to be Mr. Sigrid so and so, Jim LeCain knew immediately that he didn’t want to be Mr. anybody else and ended it.
Then came Abbie Gail Wilson, the Nova-Scotia-plain girl, who was anything but plain. She was a ray of sunshine and polka dots and all that is good in the world. They were set up on a blind date and while she knew upon first sight she’d marry him, he remembered her as the girl who got hot dog bun stuck to the roof of her mouth. It summed them up; he was charming and handsome and thoughtful and she was full of life.
While Jim LeCain was studying to be a teacher Abbie Wilson was a student in nursing school. She visited him in an apartment that he lived in with no furniture and they would go on nights-out with friends, have too much to drink, and steal glasses for every type of cocktail from a restaurant to furnish empty cabinets in that empty apartment.
When Jim LeCain asked Abbie Wilson to marry him, he didn’t say that it was love at first sight, he didn’t say he couldn’t live without her, instead he told her that he wanted her to be the mother of his children; it worked. There was one big fight before the big day, one where she threw her engagement ring and lost it, but he found it, and they found each other over and over again over the years.
They had, first, a son, Scott, who grew up essentially an only child, then fifteen years later they started again – with a son, Andrew, and then a daughter, Stephanie. Jim LeCain said he never wanted a daughter and was admittedly disappointed to find out that that baby was a girl, but he danced with her every night and doted on her for the rest of his life.