While Vic was at the hospital, Mona went to pick up Trey and Julian to save her mother-in-law from making the trip.
“I just made a fresh pot of coffee. The boys are downstairs watching a movie. Sit and have a cup with me.”Vic’s mother always made it impossible to simply run in, say thank you and run out.
“Oh, Mama, I promised the boys we’d have lunch then do something special today, since they’re going back to school next week.”
“I just fixed them breakfast not too long ago. Sit and talk to me for a few minutes.” She set two of her pretty china cups and saucers on the table.
Mona reluctantly pulled out a chair and busied herself with adding cream and sweetener to her cup.
“How are things with you and Vic?” Her mother-in-law asked once she joined her at the table.
“The same,” she said without looking up from her cup. “He’s too busy for me and the boys.”
“Have you tried talking to him about how you feel?”
“Too many times. He thinks I’m ungrateful and being overly-dramatic. All he gives me is the have you forgotten I’m the first black and the youngest chief of surgery the hospital has ever had? speech. I’m not asking him to step down, but I’m tired of hearing it.”
“I’m worried about you two. Victor and I went through a couple of similar stages, once while he was doing his residency and again when he started in private practice. Thankfully, we worked it out. Have you considered talking to someone about what’s going on?”
“You mean someone like a shrink?” Mona asked in a tight voice.
“Not necessarily a shrink, but a person who’s trained to listen.”
Ramona gaped at the older woman whom she loved deeply. “I’m not the one who needs counseling, Mama! He just brushes me off like what I think and feel are unimportant. I have nothing against counseling, but I refuse to go alone.”
Mrs. Stafford placed a hand atop hers. “Honey, being married is hard. Being married to a doctor is hard. Being married to a black doctor with a prominent position is even harder. You need to talk to someone.” She patted Mona’s hand. “I have a thought. What about calling Rhani? I know she’s no longer practicing, but she was trained for this. And since she’s in New York, none of your friends or associates know her.”
It sounded like a good idea, but she refused to budge on her stance. “I’m not going to counseling without Vic. If he wants to stay married to me, he needs to put forth some effort. I think he just doesn’t care.” She finished her coffee, rose and went to the door leading downstairs to the theatre. “Trey, Julian, are you ready to go? Make sure you turn everything off before you come up.”
“Do you want me to talk to him?” her mother-in-law asked with a downcast expression that tugged at Ramona’s heart.
“No. Vic knows what he needs to do. He just won’t do it.”
The boys raced up the stairs into the kitchen, and the eight-year old hugged her around the waist. “Hi, Mom. You look nice.” He offered her the sweet smile she missed seeing from her older son. Soon to be thirteen, he now thought he was too cool to express his feelings for his mother.
“Thank you.” She glanced down at her Black Girls Rock tee-shirt, skinny jeans and sandals. This was about as dressed down as she ever got, but she assumed he meant she looked stylish. “Do you guys have all your stuff together?”
“Yup,” Trey answered.
Looking at them, she felt a twinge of an emotion she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Her sons were both so handsome. Trey, whose name was actually Victor Stafford, III, was the image of his father. He had the same square jaw, heavy wild eyebrows framing deep-set hazel eyes and a sprinkling of freckles across his nose. He even insisted on keeping his hair cut close like Vic’s.
Julian was a combination of Vic and her. A mass of brown curls he’d had since he was an infant still framed his always smiling face. Of the two, he was the mama’s boy, and she thanked God he wasn’t yet ashamed to love on her in front of others. It was the only love she received these days.
“Thank Grandma for letting you stay last night, and take your bags out to the car.”
Once Trey and Julian were outside, Mona said, “Don’t worry about us. We’ll be okay.”
“I hope so. Give some thought to what I said about Rhani.”
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