wings and things

Not so heavy.

This afternoon, Ants and I sat out in the sun, on the beach side of the nursing lodge, then went for a short walk up the rather steep driveway so we could catch a glimpse of the ocean.

To give you an idea of how exhausting this was for Ants, the distance up to the crest is about 15 – 20 ordinary strides. Anthony uses a walker of course, but can barely lift his feet so, for him, the distance to the crest was well over 100 shuffled steps, then back down again. Once inside, I could barely get him back to the armchair in his room and thought I’d have to get the wheelchair, but we made it.

Getting him to turn around, let go of the walker and sit in the chair took ages, and I finally used all my strength to sort of hoist him around and plonk him down. This left us both gasping and I got the giggles.

I bet the nurses are much gentler with you, I said.
But with you, there are sexual overtones, he said with a hint of a smile.
For God’s sake, Ants, are you crazy? I yelped.
Then why are you blushing?

I can assure you, I was not blushing!


Weekends off blogging



Silence is not always golden – it can be a lead, dead weight.

At the nursing lodge, I am learning, with restless determination, how to sit in silence with Ants who is beginning to forget how to talk, to form sentences/words.

So what do I do? I talk frenetically, I throw myself around his room, recharge his phone, make sure his airconditioner is onto heat, turn the TV onto ABC, put the new heatpads into his slippers, hug and kiss him. Sometimes I am there for a few hours, sometimes just a few minutes; if I can’t get into town, I eventually get him on the phone.

His silence on the phone, and in person, is sometimes deafening.


Parkinsonism, body thermostats, and the bitch.

The other day, when Anthony was home for lunch and the afternoon, and Ming and I were trying to get the living room warm enough for him, I became a bit impatient. We had a roaring fire going, a heater on, and two blankets on his knees, but he was still shivering with cold in a room so hot that I was soaked with perspiration.

Your thermostat’s had the bomb, Ants! I accidentally sort of yelled this as I was wrapping the stupid blankets under and around his feet.

Mum, don’t be such a bitch! Yes, that came from Ming of course.

Ants, can you tell Ming not to ever again call me a bitch?

And then Anthony said very clearly, I think, that in this context, it’s acceptable.

Shared laughter immediately thrilled its way through that hot room!


Free lunch

Anthony’s Parkinsonism symptoms include difficulty in swallowing but, so far, he is still able to half-manage normal, rather than mushed meals. However, his appetite is diminished and he has a dribbling problem.

Recently I have been going into the nursing lodge in the late mornings so that I can help him with his lunch. The lunch meal is always huge and often a roast, and is delicious. Ants only ever eats half of it, so I secretly gobble the rest with a separate spoon or fork.

– Use my fork, he says.
– I’m not particularly keen on your saliva, I say.
– One more mouthful, he says.
– So you want me to actually feed you?
– Erotic, he says without hesitation, and I crack up laughing.

I wonder what’s on the menu tomorrow.


Gutsy9 update in the form of a haiku


Atop my shoulder
This beautiful little friend
My teenage peacock

[Many thanks to Samantha for this photo of G9 yesterday].



It seems indecent to feel, or worse embrace, joy, when your loved one is disappearing.

But joy is clever; it sneaks into the mud of your sorrow and explodes it away in rainbowish sparkles.

It is nearly 35 years since I, rather transparently, fell in love with Anthony and he kept his reciprocal feelings secret (I was, after all, still a teenager and he was over 40).

I think of what we had, what we endured, what we celebrated, and what we have now, as a big kind of love – huge, inviolable, but feather-light, a joy.

I have never felt so sad.
I have never felt so happy.




I am finding it very difficult to talk/write about this without crumbling into a teary mess of memories. Hopefully, it will be okay if I just post short glimpses of how Anthony’s Parkinsonism revealed itself. It’s not all tragic, of course, and we continue to have many comic moments.

My first memory of something being amiss with my macho-machine husband was when he couldn’t open the Vegemite jar for our morning toast. I even remember teasing Anthony which, in retrospect, seems cruel, but we had a buoyantly bantery relationship, a beautiful little son, and I was adept at opening jars of Vegemite for Ming.

Little did we know then that Parkinsonism had moved into the spare room.


The Parkinson’s disease that nobody seems to know about

Okay, of course the medical professionals know a bit about the type of Parkinson’s disease that Anthony has lived with for nearly a decade, but his official diagnosis is Parkinsonism. Anthony doesn’t have the Michael J Fox variety of Parkinson’s disease; for example, he has no tremors. If he’d had the characteristic tremors, we may have found out earlier.

Anthony’s Parkinsonism is best described as a list of losses in movement. If I look back in time, my first memory of a change in Anthony was his face. It was a big, huge face with a receding hairline and a deeply grooved forehead, twinkling blue eyes, large, but refined nose, sunburned cheeks, large, laughing mouth with good, straight teeth, and a strong jaw.

To be be continued….


June 1st

Well I had my month off blogging, and only kept up with other people’s blogs haphazardly, and I have to say it was a refreshingly silent month. It has given me the time needed to reassess a few things, turn some corners, contemplate the future, and come to terms better with Anthony’s deterioration.

Gutsy 9, the not-so-baby peacock, is thriving and now sleeps in the wattle trees at night with the other peacocks, and is quick enough to get away from our two dogs now. He still does madly joyful pirouettes whenever he hears my voice and loves to fly up onto my shoulder for a kiss. (I don’t have a new picture of this so have included one from when he was little. He is now twice this size, so rather heavy).

Ming is still happily milking for our dairy farmer neighbours, and creating music in the evenings. He gave me 4 nights at a luxury resort for Mothers’Day – not a bad gift!

I still battle bouts of volcanic grief about what is happening to Anthony, but have learned a few more ways of bringing joy back into our little family.

It’s good to back and thanks for the many comments. This is a lovely community.

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