A Season to Celebrate(6)

By: Fern Michaels

At that point, Kate had the horrible thought that maybe keeping her from a successful career in medicine was Roger’s plan. If they moved to Canada and he got a good job, then Kate might have to give up her aspirations and let him wear the pants in the family. No. That was not the answer. She had put too much into her studies and her career. She couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t want to become a doctor. A pediatric orthopedist. Helping kids get their limbs working again. It was time she faced the ugly truth. The marriage was over.

Kate was thinking back to when she first told her mother the news of the divorce. “Teenage love is so naive. Why don’t kids listen to their parents?” Kate smiled a wry grin.

“But Roger is a good egg, and he deserves to be happy. At least we’re grown up enough to realize we’re young enough to have a chance at happiness—even if it isn’t with each other!”

“You both deserve to be happy, sweetie. I’m glad you didn’t take the other road and walk away from your career. You put so much time into your education, and you still have a bit left on your student loans!” Kate’s mom was very proud of her daughter’s drive and success and bragged incessantly about her “daughter the doctor.”

Fortunately, the divorce was amicable. Roger almost seemed relieved. As they parted ways, Roger agreed to send her two hundred dollars a month in child support. Not a lot to go on, but it was better than nothing. He promised to send more when things got better, but four years later, it looked as if things were never going to get better for Roger.

The year that followed the divorce, Kate had Emma’s last name changed to Stafford. It was hard enough being a kid with only one parent; at the very least they should have the same name. Roger raised a bit of a fuss but backed down after the second argument over the phone. “I don’t want Emma, or anyone else for that matter, to be confused as to who her mother is, particularly with an absent father. End of story—unless you want to pay a lawyer to try to stop me.” He acquiesced, and Kate sent him the paperwork—with a prepaid return FedEx envelope.

Four years had passed since she had broken the news of the divorce, and the latest change—the big move to Cedar Park—was not about to sit well with her mother. When she met with her mother to break the news, her mom was very excited about the upcoming holidays. “Santa will be coming in a few weeks, and this year Emma should really get a kick out of it. She is such a joy.”

Kate became quiet as she began to find the words to explain to her mother that she and Emma were moving to Cedar Park. Not too far, but not last-minute babysitting or dinner several times a week proximity. It would be at least a two-and-a-half-hour drive.

“Mom. I’ve been looking into permanent positions at hospitals that have orthopedic specialty clinics.”

“Of course, dear. That’s something you’ve always wanted.”

“Well, there is a wonderful opportunity for me at Cedar Park, and—”

“Cedar Park? Near Austin?” Kate’s mother sounded horrified. “You’ll be so far away! And what about our Emma? We won’t be able to watch her grow up!” She began to cry.

“Oh, Mom. Don’t cry. It’s only about two hours away. We’ll visit on weekends. You can visit us. We’ll spend all the holidays together. I promise! It won’t be all that bad!”

“Kate, honey, your daddy and I live for the two of you. I don’t know what we’re going to do if you leave!” Mrs. Stafford was beside herself.

“Mom, it’s not ‘if,’ it’s ‘when.’” Kate was determined. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me. They have day care, and after Emma starts school, they will work around my schedule. Besides, Houston is getting so expensive. My other option was Boston, and I’m sure you would agree that was totally out of the question.”

“You’re damn right!” Mrs. Stafford was regaining her self-control. “I don’t know how I’m going to explain this to your father. He wasn’t thrilled about the divorce, but losing you and Emma might be just too much for him.”