Having Words

“What were you thinking, Tadeas?”

“Mother, did you just drop by so that you could scold me for having dinner with Velma at Claridge’s?

“What happened with Briony?”

“I stopped seeing her. It doesn’t make sense to continue seeing her when I want to be with Velma.”

“Velma. Isn’t she your supervisor?”


“Isn’t there a company policy against employers and employees dating each other?”


“I can’t tell you how shocked I was when Amelia called and told me. It’s one thing to date an older woman who’s not of the same social standing but a black woman?”

“Would you have preferred if she were Asian or Hispanic?”

“No! I’ve already told you that I don’t approve of interracial dating. People should stick with their own race, culture and class. Are you doing this to spite me?”

“Spite you for what?”

“For not being the doting mother when you were growing up.”

“This has absolutely nothing to do with my upbringing.”

“Maybe that’s the problem. If I had been more involved in your life, this wouldn’t be happening. You wouldn’t be dating unsuitable women.”

“Briony was unsuitable even though she’s white because she was older and a farmer’s daughter. And, now Velma is the worse choice because she’s black, older and a working-class woman. I’m very thankful, Mother, that from an early age, Father and Nanny taught me that people shouldn’t be treated differently because of their race, gender, culture or religion or social status. I would have thought that you, being a woman, wouldn’t discriminate against anyone. It wasn’t that long ago when women had to fight for equality. They still have to.”

“I’m all for equality but I draw the line at interracial relationships and marriages.”

“Well, that’s too bad because I am dating Velma and there’s nothing you could say or do that will stop me.”

“Maybe if you had a more normal childhood.”

“My dating Velma has nothing to do with my childhood, Mother. Even if you had been a doting and suffocating mother, I still would have ended up where I am now.”

“Weren’t there men of her own caliber whom she could have dated instead of you?”

“There were two men who wanted to date her but she wasn’t interested in either of them.”

“Why not?”

“She wasn’t attracted to either of them.”

“Why do you supposed she’s involved with you?”

“She’s besotted with me just as I am besotted with her.”

Mrs. Gray snorted. “Besotted! Don’t be ridiculous. With you, it’s probably a novelty which I hope will wear off very soon and with her, it’s your wealth–your family connections. What a feather in her cap to be dating Sir Hamilton Gray’s son and heir.”

Tadeas’s expression darkened and his mouth tightened. “Unlike you, Velma isn’t dating me because of the bloody family name and fortune.”

“What do you mean, unlike me?”

“Admit it, Mother. You didn’t marry Father because you loved him. It was his wealth. You wanted to be a rich man’s wife and what a feather in your cap when he was knighted by the Queen.”

His mother’s face suffused with color. “How dare you say these things to me?”

“They are true, aren’t they?”

“I ought to come over there and slap you for your impertinence.”

“Slapping me isn’t going to change the fact that you don’t love my father and you’re only with him because of his name and his wealth. Well, Velma may not have blue blood in her but she’s priceless. Father would have been better off married to a woman of her caliber instead of you, a woman incapable of loving anyone but herself.”

Enraged, she went up to him and slapped him hard across the face. “What do you know about love?” she demanded, her face etched with anguish. “I loved your brother. I watched him take his first step. And then, I watched him die before he was two. I felt as if a part of me was ripped out. I didn’t want to live but your father encouraged me. He helped me to get through those dark moments. We became closer than we had ever been and then, I got pregnant with you. I looked at you and wanted so badly to hold you but I was afraid that if I got attached to you, I would lose you too and I couldn’t go through that again. So, I had the nanny raise you instead. I used to go to the nursery and watch you sleep. You were such a beautiful baby. I was so thankful when you lived past your second birthday. I watched you grow and I loved you with all my heart. I longed to be close to you but you were closer to Nanny and that made me jealous and I started to resent her.”

He rubbed his face which was still smarting. “Is that why you sent her away?”

“Yes. I no longer needed her services. Besides, I was your mother, not her.”

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“A mother is loving and caring, not controlling.”

“You think I’m controlling?”


“I don’t mean to be–it’s just that I want what is best for you as all mothers do.”

“Part of loving your son or daughter is allowing him or her to make his or her own decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. That’s part of growing up. I’m not a child any more. I’m a grown man, capable of making my own decisions. I wish you would see past Velma’s color and see the amazing woman she is.”

“You’re asking for an awful lot, Tadeas.”

“Yes, I know.”

“I will not interfere in your love life. You have my word.”

“Good. Mother, I’m sorry about what I said about you. I spoke in anger.”

“You were right. I wasn’t in love with your father when I married him but I fell hard for him after losing your brother. Your father was my rock and he kept me through those dark, unbearably painful moments. It took losing a child for me to see what a truly special man he is and how blessed I am.”

“I’m sorry you lost a child.”

“Me too. He would have celebrated his thirty first birthday on November 30.”

“Mother, would you like me to stay and have dinner?”

She smiled. “Sure, Tadeas. I’d like that very much.”

“And you can tell me about my brother.”

She nodded, her eyes brimming with tears as she looked at him.

He put his arms around her and hugged her for the first time in his life.

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