While preparing to go to Olu’s mother-in-law’s seventieth birthday party, Neni gets an international call that she knows isn’t from Cameroon. She doesn’t answer because she’s already running late to the gathering, which takes place all the way down in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The morning after, she listens to the voicemail; it’s Vince. She calls him back, much to his surprise. He asks her about how her family is doing and she asks about his. Vince tells her about what a worrier Clark has become, checking in on everyone all the time. He tends to Mighty’s well-being, rescheduling meetings to attend hockey practices and writing poems for him while he sleeps. He’s also learning how to cook the meals Cindy used to make for Mighty.
It took Cindy’s death, as well as the failure of his company, to help Clark realize the importance of his family and, particularly, Mighty’s need for care and attention. In becoming “a worrier,” Clark’s behavior mirrors that of Cindy at the beginning of the novel. Whereas Clark didn’t have time for Mighty’s recital earlier in the novel, he’s now willing to reschedule things to ensure that he’s there for his son. He’s also able to share his poems, Clark’s only expression of his inner life, to demonstrate his closeness to his son.
Vince says that, now that Mighty and Clark are okay, he’ll probably never return to the U.S. permanently. Neni tells Vince how sorry she is about everything that happened. When Neni asks if he misses Cindy, he says that he accepts the situation. Mighty, however, has been spending most of his time with his mom’s friends, which he doesn’t enjoy as much as his time with the Jongas. Neni suggests that he might like them more if they gave him fried plantains and puff-puff. Vince uses that as a segue to ask Neni if she’d like to be Mighty’s nanny because Stacy is moving to Portland. Mighty’s grief counselor suggests that he would benefit from a consistent maternal presence.
Vince’s belief that he has accepted his mother’s death could reflect his immersion into Eastern spirituality, which encourages an acceptance of suffering and the short-lived nature of all things, or he may not be coping with his grief over his mother’s death. His distance from his family makes it easier for him to put it out of his mind and focus on other things. His wish for Neni to reestablish a relationship with Mighty is also partly due to his preference for the Jongas’ values compared to those of his own family.
Vince asks Neni to take her time to think about it, but Neni knows that she can’t take the job; she’s leaving. Besides, after what she did to Cindy, she couldn’t walk into her home and usurp her place in her child’s life, no matter how much she cared about Mighty.
Neni believes that she may have played a role in Cindy’s death, due to causing Cindy additional distress. Believing that changes her relationship with Mighty.