Yeah, I know I keep calling the place where Anthony now lives a ‘nursing lodge’ but that’s only because it sounds a bit nicer than ‘nursing home’. Also it is called a lodge by its owners and I like that because it is so different to what I imagined a nursing home might entail. Anthony is in the ‘high care’ section, but he has his own room, his own bathroom, a view to the garden and it is all quite spacious, a bit like a motel room for one person. If he makes the slightest murmur, someone comes to help, the meals are delicious and the staff are beautiful – not just the nursing/caring staff but also the domestic and kitchen staff. Everyone seems very fond of Anthony, who they call Tony, which is what most people have always called him anyway, and everyone knows my name too which I find remarkable and lovely.
Today I went in at noon and so did my fantastic mother, and the three of us had lunch together in Anthony’s room. His meal was good, the sun was shining through the window, and I hesitantly brought in two more pictures from home to hang on Anthony’s wall. I had already brought in a jarrah/cast iron mirror one of my brothers made us a few years back, a huge clock I bought the other day, and a poem written by one of his best mates for his 75th that we had framed when Ants was still home on the farm.
I took in an original painting of cattle that I had commissioned for Anthony’s birthday years ago and a photo of Ming as a baby. Anthony didn’t like the fact that I had brought yet more home things into the nursing lodge and became glum and, yes, we had an argument and I had to close his door so that the staff wouldn’t hear my desperate pleadings to him to please, please, stop ruining all of my visits to him. At the end of that, as I was leaving, he still asked:
Anthony: So when am I coming home?
I cried all the way home, not with grief but with a kind of new rage.