After Anthony and I became engaged, I was still living in Perth so he would ring me constantly. Okay, that doesn’t seem like much but during the years before our engagement he would hardly ever ring me, so these thrice-daily phone-calls were a bit of a shock.
I felt like a princess!
During the uncertain years before Anthony and I were engaged, I had a very strange certainty that twirled around in my mind, and whirled around in my stomach. So, one day, I sat down in my little bedsit and wrote about our son-to-be. I sent the poem to Anthony.
[Note: it was a poem called “The Dreamchild” which I have posted before so am not going to repeat it here again; in short, it was about a kid waiting to be born].
And a few years late, the dreamchild turned into Ming!
As as the wedding date drew closer, Anthony and I decided that we better get some suitable clothes so we went shopping. He immediately bought himself a $1,000 suit which, at the time, was very expensive and, as I knew how careful he was with money, this rather thrilled me! For me it was a little more difficult as I didn’t want to be a bridey bride, so a friend gave us the name of a seamstress and she fashioned a blue silk suit for me – jacket and skirt. Anthony paid for this too because I wasn’t able to at the time. The funniest thing though, is that my suit cost only $450.
I wonder if any bride has ever worn a less expensive outfit than her groom! Perhaps I should contact the Guinness Book of Records – ha!
It took Anthony awhile to fork out the money for this appendage but he we did finally go to a wonderful antique jeweller’s in Perth and he chose and bought me an old-fashioned ring for a tidy sum of money. I have never taken this ring off.
It is very difficult to describe the kind of joy Anthony and I felt in each others’ presence, as our wedding day drew closer. The various glitches we’d experienced since his metamorphosis now just seemed like the tiny midgies I’d wipe off the kitchen table. A few weeks before getting married, I moved out of my flat in Perth and fluctuated between staying on the farm or with my mother who lived in the adjacent town from which I’d once ridden my bicycle to look after Inna.
The only thing that bothered me a bit was money. I didn’t have any. Well, I had a bit because I’d been working at the nursing home where Joe lived for all of the three years since I’d begun post-graduate studies at the Perth university. It was my PhD supervisor’s suggestion to apply for a scholarship, so I did so and I was very hopeful as it was worth around $15,000 per year over three years. I wrote the scholarship application very carefully, outlining that I wanted to investigate how listening to the stories told by people with Alzheimer’s disease, no matter how fragmented these stories might be, could be a much better way of caring than … well, you get the gist.
Just before I vacated my flat in Perth, I received a letter from the scholarship people to say I had been unsuccessful and, even though I wasn’t devastated, I was very disappointed because I didn’t want to enter into a marriage with zilch as I knew I was already being perceived in some quarters as a ‘gold-digger’. At the end of the letter, their was a tiny shred of hope in that I had been placed at the top of the list if any of the recipients rejected the scholarship. I wrote a polite letter back informing them that if that happened my new address would be down in the country and I gave Anthony’s phone number.
After a weekend with my mother, I headed over to the farm and just as I was cooking fish mornay for lunch (yes, yes, I know – been there, done that!) the phone rang and a woman asked to speak to me, so I said I was me and she said she was from the Scholarships Office and said my application was successful. After a shocked pause, I said, “I don’t think that is possible because ….” But she immediately interrupted me, laughing over the phone: “The initial recipient received a better offer from another university, so you were the next on the list.”
I was so beside myself with glee that I could hardly speak. “Are you sure?” I kept saying, and she kept laughing and finally calmed me down to get my bank details so she could “pop the first little bit in, Julie.” After I shakily gave her my details, I couldn’t stop saying thank you, thank you, thank you, and she was so delighted by my response that she kept laughing in happy empathy (I don’t think empathy is the right word here by why not have happy empathy?)
Once I got off the phone, I went back to the Aga to try and salvage the now crispy mornay which, thank goodness, wasn’t burned. In a daze, I added a bit more milk, stirred it in, then put it on the side of the hotplate and sat down on one of the kitchen chairs. I tried to breathe normally but I was too excited so I jumped up and raced outside to find Anthony. He was with Arthur, his main dairy hand, yelling at him to clean his little hut up.
“I’m rich!” I shouted to both of them, twirling around and around in the middle of the lawn. When I managed to explain, Anthony twirled me around again, grinning.
The fish mornay was accompanied by a hefty glass or two of champagne after which I suddenly pretended to become serious and said to Anthony, “You realize, don’t you, that we will now need a prenuptual agreement!” With that, he danced me around the kitchen much to Arthur’s bemusement.
We already had the joy of each other but the scholarship money was like an extra scoop of passionfruit icecream and seemed like a present from heaven.