Transcript of 46th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sylvia Bows, Tuesday, July 8, 1997 at 4 pm.

Ms. Bows: Hello, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Sylvia. You look tired.
Ms. Bows: I thought your job was to make me feel better.
Dr. Balis: Just an observation, I didn't mean to...
Ms. Bows: I know. It was a very long weekend, Doctor. Way too much family togetherness, if you know what I mean.
Dr. Balis: I think so. Are Tom's parents still in town?
Ms. Bows: No. They finally left Saturday night. Tom's dad couldn't be away from his law practice any longer. As it is, he stayed too long. They both stayed too long!
Dr. Balis: I hear a lot of resentment...
Ms. Bows: Resentment? How about open hostility, Doctor. Do you hear any anger? Maybe a touch of hate?
Dr. Balis: Wow! What happened?
Ms. Bows: Somehow, Tom and I ended up hosting the family Fourth of July party. My parents were there, Rene was there, even my brother was there, and, of course, Tom's parents. Beverly couldn't make it.
Dr. Balis: Somehow, I didn't think she would.
Ms. Bows: Tom's mom thought it would have been a good idea.
Dr. Balis: Hmm?
Ms. Bows: It was very ugly, Doctor Balis. We were all sitting on our roof deck, and Tom's mom just started. She was saying how wonderful Beverly was as a girl and how lucky my mom was that her children could be with her on the holidays. Can you imagine? The tension in the air could have been chopped with an ax. I was dying. But my mom...she just accepted it as her due--yes, her children and grandchildren are clearly wonderful.
Dr. Balis: Does Tom's mother know about your mom's visit to the hospital to see Beverly?
Ms. Bows: She must. While she might not know all the details of that visit, the doctors told her of Beverly's reaction to it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: Nina--Tom's mother--sat on the sofa all night and kept putting away martinis, one after another. My mom sat across from her and played with Grant and Roald most of the evening. My mom was happy, and it was eating Nina up inside. We should have canceled the whole evening when Nina called and tried to make arrangements to bring Beverly with her. Tom and I were both against that idea. Tom went to visit with her that morning, and aside from the social awkwardness that her presence would have resulted in, she was clearly not up to it. But Tom's mom just wouldn't let go of it. She just kept talking about how wonderful Beverly is and how understanding and sensitive. And what a wonderful mother she could have been.
Dr. Balis: Mother?
Ms. Bows: Yes, mother. I guess she meant if everything turned out differently...I don't know. But it was just awful. And I could see that my mother was starting to lose it. I was hoping to distract everyone long enough to finish dinner and then end this melodrama before it got out of hand.
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Bows: People are just not capable of eating that fast, Doctor. Nina accused my mother of faking her accent.
Dr. Balis: But she's French.
Ms. Bows: She's been here long enough to learn proper English.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: She even called french people "frogs."
Dr. Balis: She used it the way you might use the word "kike" or "wog" or something?
Ms. Bows: Can you imagine? She kept poking and poking at my mom: Beverly this and Beverly that. And while she never openly accused my mother of anything, she clearly implied that she had done something horribly wrong. Finally, my mother had enough.
Dr. Balis: Yeah?
Ms. Bows: She told Nina that she would never understand her--Nina will never really know what it means to be a grandparent because Grant and Roald are not her true grandchildren.
Dr. Balis: Oh no.
Ms. Bows: Nina freaked out. She called me a whore and my children fatherless bastards.
Dr. Balis: Oh, Sylvia...
Ms. Bows: Then Tom lost it and told Nina that it was her fault that Beverly is in a mental institution right now. That if she didn't insist on Beverly having all those abortions when she first started to go out with her ex-husband, she might still be married with children of her own and she'd have her sanity now.
Dr. Balis: I didn't know that...
Ms. Bows: Beverly's husband was black. But this wasn't some great social divide from the wrong side of the tracks or something. It's kind of like that movie, "Guess Whose Coming to Dinner." Syd wasn't a neurosurgeon--but he was a brilliant law student going to Yale. He was on the law review, high honors, that kind of thing. He joined Tom's father's firm after graduation. Syd was a talented lawyer and he was a very kind and sensitive husband. But when Nina went over his head--Syd never knew she was pregnant until afterwards--and insisted on Beverly getting rid of a "mixed race" child, he just exploded.
Dr. Balis: How awful!
Ms. Bows: Yeah. For a while after they got married, Syd and Beverly severed all contact with her parents. I'm not sure of all my details, but I think Beverly spent a few months in a mental institution at that time as well.
Dr. Balis: But Beverly and Syd tried having children after that, right?
Ms. Bows: For years. But either the abortions were poorly executed or she just got lucky those two times, but she was never able to get pregnant again. The years of trying and using fertility drugs destroyed their marriage. I haven't heard from Syd in five years. He left Bows, Edwards, and Peterson just after they got married.
Dr. Balis: I see. There were two abortions?
Ms. Bows: I know there were two, but I don't know much more than that.
Dr. Balis: So Tom brought this whole story up during your Fourth of July dinner?
Ms. Bows: After the steak but before desert.
Dr. Balis: A full evening of family togetherness.
Ms. Bows: I'm telling you, Doctor. If I never see Tom's mother again, it will be too soon. And I do wish that my mother exhibited a bit more restraint during the evening as well. She knew that what she did to Beverly was outrageous regardless of how noble her motives might have seemed to her. She should just have ignored Nina and let her get quietly drunk. Instead she pushed back. And the entire time, Rene just sat there and let herself be amused by the circus around her. She could have tried to run interference. God, what a disaster!
Dr. Balis: Your relationship with Tom's mom seems pretty much destroyed for the moment. How does Tom feel?
Ms. Bows: He was furious when Nina called the kids "fatherless bustards." He got very cold and told her that Roald and Grant are his sons and that if she has trouble accepting that she was not welcomed in our home. I think the way he looked at her and the sound of his voice scared Nina--she apologized. Tom's dad took her back to the hotel after that. They left the next day without saying goodbye.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: I swear, it feels like a huge rock's been lifted off my chest. I can't wait until Beverly is well enough to travel. With all of them gone, life would be a lot more peaceful.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry, Sylvia. You had a very tough holiday. I'm still recommending that you and Tom and the boys should go away somewhere and rest for a few days. You all deserve it.
Ms. Bows: I'm thinking about it. Tom's birthday is coming up in a few weeks, maybe I'll surprise him. You know, I didn't even celebrate my birthday this year? Somehow it just didn't seem so important. I even stopped remembering how old I was--I just recalculate it from the birth year each time I need to know. Time's just going by so quickly.
Dr. Balis: When was your birthday?
Ms. Bows: In April. Please don't ask me how old I am, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I won't.
Ms. Bows: You were right--I'm very tired, Doctor. I think I would like to go home now. All right?
Dr. Balis: Sure.
Ms. Bows: It's going to be our one year anniversary next Tuesday. Did you know?
Dr. Balis: No. But you're right; July 15th is when we first met. That was the first day that I started practicing after I moved out from New York. Funny, it doesn't seem so long ago.
Ms. Bows: Seems like a long time to me. There's been a lot of changes in my life since then--I'm a mother now.
Dr. Balis: You've come a long way, Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: l'll see you next week, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Okay. See you next week.
Ms. Bows: Goodbye.
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