Lilly looked down at Jake's still handsome face. He lay on his back, knees pulled up, eyes closed, and just a hint of a smile touching the corners his mouth.
They had opened a bottle of Chardonnay to enjoy with their cheese and crackers and now Lilly was sitting with her back against the trunk of the huge oak tree where they had spread their picnic blanket. She was quite content as she picked up the last strawberry in the punnet, then her mind drifted back to the conversation with her mother that morning.
It started with Lilly in her PJs, running downstairs to answer the phone.
"Morning Lilly. All well with you? Just want to let you know well be round at about noon today. Is lunch good for you?" her mother announced all in one breath.
Mum was a very domineering woman and it was her way or the highway.
Lilly was looking for an answer.
"Are you there Lilly?"
"Yes Mum! Hi Mum! All good here but Jake and I have already made plans for today. We will be out for the day - sorry," Lilly's voice was not as bold as she would have wanted and as she looked at her reflection in the hallway mirror she saw her shoulders were slightly slumped. Drat, why did I have to say sorry she thought to herself.
She slowly pushed her shoulders back. "Mum, we are not changing our plans for toady. I will call you and make arrangements for e next week and then I'll do something special for us."
"I suppose this is one of Jake's ideas again. Well if you would rather go gallivanting with him and not see us for another weekend then so be it." Mother could really lay the guilt trip on a person. She was very good at it.
Also, she had never been fond of Jake, telling Lilly, "He is not my cup of tea', he just doesn't fit into the family."
"Lilly, my girl, I'm telling you right now - it will not work" she could still hear her mother's harsh words when Lilly had come home with the news that Jake asked to marry her. She had been very excited and first told her Dad who was over joyed. He had hugged her and was so happy for her but not mother.
To Lilly, Jake was special, he was different. They had been married for twenty five years now and they were still the best of friends although two completely different personalities types. Two very individual characters. Complementing each other.
Lilly's thoughts returned to the present. She nudged Jake and started to pack up their picnic basket. Slowly they strolled to the car, hand in hand.
Next morning Jake went off to work giving Lilly a hug and a kiss on the nose. Catlyn came down the stairs with a Cheshire Cat grin on her face. She took an apple from the bowl and picked up her brief case.
"Ciao Mum. See you tonight!" she said opening the door.
"Excuse me young lady. Do you have something to share this morning?" Lilly asked.
"Nope - See yea." Catlyn giggled.
Catlyn was their pride and joy. She was in her final year of law studies and except for the time in her first year at university when her and her best friend had decided to join a protest about some or other cause, she had never given them thought for concern. The day of the protest, Lilly had received a call from the Faculty Dean urging her to come and collect the 'Two Imps" as he called them. When the protest started, he had spotted the two and quickly yanked them out of the crowd. Marched them to his office and threatened to expel the two. There would be consequences though and community work was part of the deal not to be expelled. There they sat with not a word to say when Lilly collected them. The Dean had a wry smile on his face as he ushered them out of his office that day.
Catlyn had had a good scare that day and buckled down to her studies and also completed her community work that semester.
In her fourth year, Catlyn's best friend emigrated with her family and for a while she was lonely but still kept her nose in the books. Then towards the end of the year she met Julian.
Before she brought Julian home to meet the family she sat opposite Lilly at the kitchen table one night twisting the dish cloth with which she had dried the dinner dishes.
"Mum, I want to bring a friend for you to meet. Now, I don't want you to make any assumption when you meet him. He's a bit different but he is super nice." Catlyn cringed at the use of the word nice. She was so nervous to tell her mother how much she liked Julian that she could not find the right words. What if Mum didn't like him she thought.
"Would you like to invite your friend over for dinner and does your friend have a name?" Lilly asked with a smile.
"Yes please for dinner and yes he does have a name." Catlyn pushed her chair back and hung the dishcloth on the rail. "Goodnight Mum!" she leaned close to her mother and hugged her.
"Catlyn, your friend - does he have a name?" Lilly laughed.
"Oh Mum, I'm so nervous for you to meet him. I really want you and Dad to get along with him. I look at Gran-ma and shuddered thinking about getting her to meet Julian. Let alone get her to see the person he really is. I often wonder why she is so judgmental." Catlyn's face had a serious frown as she made this statement.
"Honey, one thing I will tell you is that you only have your happiness to worry about. If you were to fret yourself about what the people around you think about how you go about your business, you would never have a nights sleep. As long as you are making right decisions for your life. So will you tell me your friend's name please?" Lilly asked again.
"His name is Julian!" she said. There was that first crush look in her eyes as if his name was music to her ears.
A week or so later Lilly and Jake had the youngsters over for dinner and as Lilly opened the door and saw Julian standing there in his very casual clothes with a smile, a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers, her first thought was - how different he was to Catlyn.
The evening was full of laughter and details about how they Julian and Catlyn had met in the passage on the first morning of the new semester. Jake had just been transferred from a university up north. He was late and lost. Catlyn had been watching this from a distance and had to laugh at him being in a flurry and when she pointed him in the right direction, he had cheekily leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. All her friends had hooped-hooped in unison and off Julian went with a smile.
Two days later she was in the cafeteria with her friends when Julian came and sat down next to her. He had two ice-cream cones in his hands.
"I've been looking for you to repay you for steering me in the right direction the other morning. I hope you are an ice-cream fan." he handed one of the cones to her.
This time her friends just sat and watched the scene play out. Julian got up, smiled at them all and then again leaned close to give Catlyn a peck on the cheek.
"He's a cheeky one this," joked Jake as he listened, then looked at Lilly. She smiled back at him remembering a young boy that had swept her off her feet twenty five years ago.
They all cleared the table together and took their dessert to the outside porch where they chatted for the rest of the evening.
It gave Lilly great satisfaction that Catlyn was at such ease in
Julian's company and it made her think of her uneasy conversation with her mother when she had brought Jake home.
Lilly decided to have a serious chat with her mother. She called and made arrangements to meet at the coffee shop at the lake.
Lilly arrived before her mother, a little nervous.
Her mother marched in and took the seat opposite Lilly.
"Is this a special occasion or is there something on your mind." her mother blurted out.
"Hello Mum. How have you been?"
"Come on Lilly, you never invite me out for coffee and now you want to chit chat. Did you and Jake not have a prior arrangement and you have some spare time for me," came the angry retort.
"Mum, please. Let's just have coffee and enjoy the home made scones and cream."
Lilly's mother was silent as Lilly ordered for them and the conversation was very forced until their coffees arrived at the table.
"I am organizing a barbecue on the weekend and would like you and Dad to be there but I have a few things to say to you before you accept my invitation." Lilly's heart was pounding. She had never had this kind of conversation with her mother. Or been so bold.
"Twenty five odd years ago, when I brought Jake to meet you, you said some terrible things about him." Lilly started.
"Lilly, do I really have to sit and listen to you chiding me?" came the interruption.
"Will you listen to me, or this will not work." Lilly continued. " I do not want to live with this hostility anymore. Is it not time to just admit that you were wrong about Jake. I have had twenty five years of absolute happiness with Jake but when you are around us there is only disdain for Jake from you. Accept it now - Jake is here in my life to stay and you can be part of it or not. The decision is yours today. Catlyn is always stressing about what you will say next. She does not even want to invite you over to meet her friends. Come on Mum, we love you and want you to be part of our lives." Lilly didn't know if she should go on.
Her mother just sat, her eyes filling with tears. Lilly took her mother's hand across the table.
"I miss not having a mother to tell all my secrets to. What do you say. Truce! This will work. I promise. Will you come to the barbecue?"