A House In The Country

The cottage

We enjoy several toasts to Jules’ mother whenever we visit. I’ve probably mentioned the story before but it bears repeating. Jules come from a wealthy family. She is an only child and is estranged from her mother.

The reason for the estrangement is sad – Jules’s mother doesn’t approve of the man Jules married. Not only is he a musician and a vegan, but worst of all, he has no money.

It doesn’t matter that he and Jules have been happy for 15 years, have two beautiful children, and that there has never been so much as a cross word between them. He ain’t got the money, so his mother-in-law ain’t got the time.

It’s a situation that causes Jules a lot of sorrow. Every year she takes birthday and Christmas presents round to her mother and leaves them with the housekeeper. They are not from Tiffany & Co or Prada as her mother would expect, instead they are irreplaceable, priceless things the kids made at school or photos in home-made frames.

Every year the presents are returned unopened. Jules hides them all in the attic so the kids don’t find out.

Jules father died five years ago. He left most of his money to his wife but did leave Jules the holiday house. Jules’ mother broke ten years of silence to voice her displeasure at the inheritance, but there was nothing legally she could do.

I never see Jules get angry over the way her mother treats her except when she comes to the house her father left her. It is as if the house allows the act of release she needs.

A few years ago when I was embroiled in one of my usual skirmishes with my mother, Jules and I went to the beach. It was a really windy day. Our hair was whipping around our faces like wet ribbon. The air was grey and white. The sea was so loud it put itself in our heads in place of our thoughts. We ran right to the water’s edge and screamed about our mothers. The sense of catharsis was incredible.

We always experience a similar catharsis in Jules’ holiday house. The unhesitating bushland that surrounds us urges us to get everything out. It is the only place we feel safe to do so as if in our homes in the city the walls have ears.

We know the house is a thorn in Jules’ mother’s side. So we toast Jules’ mother unreservedly. Unashamedly. For wanting a piece of property more than a relationship with her grandchildren. For not wanting to build bridges. For the silence that continues to surge. For all that could have been. But most of all, for failing to realise that life is too short.

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20 thoughts on “A House In The Country

  1. I don’t know if that’s the house in question in the picture but it’s beautiful and so charming.

    What a shallow woman Jules’ mother is. She is to be pitied really because she has no idea of what is really important nor will she ever know the joy of the simple things in life and a love that has no price tag.

    I’m sure it must be very painful for Jules because most of us want for our mother’s approval but really when all is said and done, Jules is by far the lucky one.

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  2. Killer and I do the same thing when we go to her mother’s beach cabin. Her mother doesn’t like me, never has, and I’m SURE she never will.

    Especially now… but I digress…

    It’s very sad that Jule’s mother is missing out on her grandchildren, but considering what kind of person she is, it’s probably best they don’t get to know her.

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  3. Life is too short…there in a nutshell is the whole tragedy of this story.

    Surely there is enough money to provide a good home for these children to thrive. No money? Maybe not as much as “mom” thinks should be but isn’t there room for a middle ground here? Sad to think that Jules’ mom is so closed on this.

    Beautiful house. I agree with Ms. Britt, you’ve got amazing friends (and stories I might add! )

    Hugs, G

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  4. What a stupid mother- and I use the word mother loosely. I feel sorry for Jules. I wish she’d stop leaving those presents. Leave the old woman to listen to her bitter words rattling in her head.

    I love the line about the ocean pushing your thoughts out. It is just like that. Maybe that’s why I long to live at the ocean. I want the white noise of it.

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  5. It would make a nice movie, but is so sad when something like that happens in real life. Your friend Jules is much wiser than her mom.

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  6. I had this conversation with a girl in the office… she was worried about something silly and trivial. Life is too short. 🙂

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  7. The thought of those gifts returned unopened makes my chest ache. I simply can’t comprehend it. What could possibly be more important?

    Good for you – for the two of you.

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  8. What kind of harpy is this woman? And, I use the term loosely; most women I know would tolerate even Saddam Hussein as a son-in-law for the sake of the grandchildren.

    To my mind, wanting something just so someone else can’t have it is the worst kind of greed.

    May the fleas of a thousand camels infest her armpits!!

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  9. I relate to Jules, but not in a monetary way. My father was disowned for years when he joined the LDS church. His sister poisoned the family, telling them things that we didn’t believe. I never did feel close to my grandfather. Only now, when my Grandmother is in her 80’s and my dad is dead have I connected with my grandmother – the last time I saw her (down in Tx for the funeral) was the first time I remember her telling me she loved me.

    It’s a sad thing. But at least I have that. I wish your friend’s kids had it too. What a stupid, stupid, prideful thing.

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  10. ROMANY:
    It’s a gorgeous house, isn’t it? You are so right – it’s Jules’ mother who is missing out. Love definitely has no price tag, but what a precious gift it is when it comes along!

    KAREN:
    I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like you. That is crazy. I’m sorry to hear you have to go through that too. I just don’t get behaviour like that!

    BRITT:
    It is a pleasure to know them. Truly.

    GERALDINE:
    Jules is in a much better financial position than me so I can only imagine what her mother thinks of me. In fact, she probably doesn’t think of me at all. I am insignificant. It’s such a shame that she thinks the way she does.

    LAURI:
    It is my dream to live by the ocean. It would be brilliant. I wish Jules would stop leaving the presents too. So upsetting for her.

    SANDY:
    You are right. She is a wise girl. I know what you mean about the movie-like tone. Sometimes things happen in life that seem just like a film. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

    KATE:
    XXXX00000

    NAT:
    I know. Life just speeds by. I’m trying to not sweat the small stuff anymore. It’s hard to do but worth it (I hope).

    NANNA:
    It’s awful, isn’t it? Talk about not being able to let go of her pride. I sometimes think negative behaviour becomes habitual. She just needs to break the habit. I hope that one day she can.

    TRAVELRAT:
    Absolutely. Grandchildren are so precious. And they grow up so quickly. Even Saddam Hussein’s. LOL.

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  11. TEXASBLU:
    I think it’s always so sad when people disown members of their family. I’m sorry to hear your Dad had to go through that. Families can be so hurtful. I’m glad your grandmother told you she loved you. How could she not ? You are eminently lovable!

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  12. I am always so saddened when I hear about family falling outs like this especially when its over things like money. It really breaks my heart. I am happy Jules has the holiday house for the two of you to enjoy.\

    I cant even believe her mother doesn’t open the presents from her grand kids. THAT is really disturbing.

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  13. Beginning Monday, late afternoon, my four daughters began to gather for a mini-reunion here in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday: two from Pennsylvania, one from Fort Lauderdale and one from Jacksonville, Florida. When I think of the wonderful, hilariously good time we had, and then compare that to what I have just read, I want physically spank each and every perpertrator of ill will, be it mother or daughter. My daughters and I are not just mother and children, WE ARE BEST FRIENDS. Of course, being best friend with one’s own daughter, begins with the realization they are also, each and every one a separate, grown-up individual, just as any other good friend. I would not miss out on what I have for anything you could offer me.

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  14. MELEAH:
    It’s scary she doesn’t open those presents. It is upsetting when families fall out. sadly, not everyone is open to reconciliation. It makes me appreciate when things are going well, it really does!

    MARY:
    What you have is priceless. That’s the way it should be. I am so glad you have that relationship with your daughters. It’s fantastic.

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  15. do you think they ever realize it and feel as if they have to play it out,, they are so deeply into the “game” that they would look like an ass to reverse it,, so they live on miserably, secretly knowing they no longer feel like that???

    it would make a wonderful story anyway……

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  16. PAISLEY:
    OMG I have missed your astuteness. You have hit the nail on the head. Backing down is no longer an option, the behaviour has become so ingrained. What an incredible observation!

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