wings and things

Not a one-way road

on December 7, 2013

25 years ago, before Anthony and I were married, I would often travel the two hours from Perth to the farm to spend the weekend with him (he rarely took a day off). I would turn into Paradise Road – the short, narrow road leading to the farm – stop my car and quickly refresh my lipstick, powder my nose, spray the perfume he gave me onto my neck, fluff up my hair, then zoom the remaining half mile with my heart beating madly in anticipation.

I would arrive to a shout of “JULES!” the scent of a chicken roasting in the Aga, and a hug that would nearly crush me. There would be beer, maybe a visitor or two, willy wagtails flitting here and there, and the beautiful, comforting smell of cow dung in the outside air. There would be Anthony’s bellowing laughter, my latest anecdotes about university and the nursing home where I worked, a lesson in gravy making, a beautiful meal, a favourite comedy on television and lots more hugs.

We were in love.

Now, I head in the other direction up Paradise Road to go into town to pick Anthony up from the nursing home and bring him to the farm for the afternoon. Even though I retain a tiny shred of that anticipation of 25 years ago, it is tainted with a kind of exhausted dread because I know the afternoon will be difficult. There will be no bellowing laughter, very little conversation and there will be a lot of dangerous occurrences when Anthony tries to do things he can’t do anymore – like chopping wood, washing the car, mowing the lawns, fixing the gate. I will secretly (through the kitchen window) watch him try and give up, then I will watch him stand outside, swaying slightly whilst leaning on his walker, then I will ask him to come back inside. If I hover over him it makes him feel inadequate, so I don’t but as he has had so many falls, I get anxious. I watch him struggle for half an hour with things I could do in minutes (like opening a gate, washing the dishes), and I try to breathe slowly and patiently. If he begins to do something ludicrous (like wind a clock with a knife, drink from the sugar bowl, talk to people who aren’t there) I sometimes intervene and not always gently! And he has no idea how absolutely exhausting these days at home are, no idea of the guilty relief I feel when I can take him back to the nursing home, no idea of how much my heart breaks when he says, “But why can’t I just stay here with you?”

During the drive back it will be the same halting conversation:
Me: I can’t manage you at night now – you know that, Ants – you’re too heavy.
Anthony: But I’ve lost so much weight.
Me: I know but you are still too heavy and Ming isn’t supposed to lift either.
Anthony: I’m better than I was Jules.
Me: Yes, but you still have Parkinson’s disease.
Anthony: I miss you so much – please never leave me.
Me: Idiot! Of course I won’t leave you! Ever!
Anthony: That’s good then.

We are in love.

60 responses to “Not a one-way road

  1. This is beautiful poignant time traveling love letter, I can feel the love and anticipation at the beginning and now I feel the love, deeper than before, full of heaviness and worry but rich in history. Beautiful Jules

  2. sureshvn says:

    Beautiful and inspiring!

  3. janeslog says:

    What great memories you have! Nobody can ever take these away.They will live with you forever. Never forget that Julie.

  4. cobbies69 says:

    You have something that many wish they had,, True Love. .. 😉 beautiful

  5. mimijk says:

    How wonderful to share your abundant love for each other with all of us..thank you

  6. love endures for those truly in love

  7. “Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails” ….. love is … you and Anthony…. Diane

  8. ahh a love story through time… Julie, you are a good woman.

  9. bulldog says:

    Damn… I love the post..

  10. Terry says:

    how sad, for Ants not really understanding. The guilt I used to feel every day when I visited him the the nursing home because he wasn’t home, but knowing or I thought at that time I couldn’t do it alone, but for Al not having PD, I barely do it on my own at home and I need that caregiver.

    • jmgoyder says:

      And now you are the one – the main one – and I do not know how you do it. I did what you are doing now, in terms of caring/nursing/toiletting etc. for nearly four years and then I was the one who ended up in hospital. Terry, don’t forget about you.

  11. lensgirl53 says:

    Tears….tears… life is certainly not a “one way road”…. thank you for sharing yours and Ants’ warm and touching romance. Love is about loyalty through the good and the bad…especially the ‘bad’…xo dale

  12. I just simply love you Jules.

  13. From all I feel from reading you, with my eyes and with my heart, you are very easy to love, Jules. It’s such a beautiful thing for you to share this journey with us, all the love, the torment, the wisdom, so much heart, my friend. Love, Paulette

  14. FlaHam says:

    Julie. I can just imagine you primping before getting out of the car, You were looking good, but wanted that extra touch. I think it is so so sweet. I think the love you and Ants shares is beyond words, your posts always touch my heart, they warm my soul, and they always say you will be there with that same level of love until the end. You can give no better gift, and Ants returns that love in all the ways possible to him, You both are blessed. Yes the disease has forced changes, But the illness has not robbed the love. In many cases when one of a couple becomes ill the other distances him or her self. But not you and Ants. Thank you for allowing me to be part of it. Take care, Bill

  15. So poignant and inspiring.

  16. Yes … you are in love. In one of the deepest senses of the word –

  17. love is always beautiful, even with all these “wrinkles” and that’s all that’s needed.

  18. ksbeth says:

    and such a love story it is )

  19. Oh my gosh. I have Christmas music playing while I’m reading. And my eyes just teared up. What power there is in your love. There is something very beautiful about you.

  20. niasunset says:

    so beautiful…. your heart makes everything so beautiful dear Julie, Love you so much, Thank you, love, nia

  21. As my pop would say it is hard and you have to remember the good times to help you get through the hard days, and as you know you learn how to distract them or guide them into doing something easier. Nan would go into the kitchen to cook tea and stand at the sink not knowing what to do which would upset pop but he would go in and suggest she sit for a bit and tell him what to do instead, than she would sit and fall asleep and he cooked tea.

  22. Ah, such sweet sadness. Well written!

  23. Your wonderful writing reminded me of that bible verse. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance … love will last forever” (NLT) Hugs to you, Julie. xx

  24. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    Such a beautiful post.
    (I’m even a little envious of such everlasting Love – you are truly blessed).

  25. Lynda says:

    Julie, the strong love that brought you together is the very love that sustains you now. Your primping in the drive made me smile. xo

  26. Judith Post says:

    I loved this post–so poignant, both your joy in the beginning and your heartache now. Stay strong.

  27. Wow! Absolutely beautiful love story! The strength and power of your fully committed hearts takes my breath away. Perfect title.

  28. tersiaburger says:

    Oh my dear friend how I wish you did not have to travel down this dreadful road! You are always in my thoughts. Much love!!!

  29. i picture this and wonder what the girl would say to the woman as they pass on the road? we are so sure when we are young that nothing can change how we feel at that moment. to a lesser degree i see changes in my own older man. i worry about leaving him to face this time of life alone. i thought i would always be here for him. to know such love is the gift, far too many won’t in their lifetime.

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