wings and things

Food, glorious food

One of the things I often say to Anthony, when I am leaving him to come home, is that I am going grocery shopping. As he was, and still is, a great lover of food, our grocery conversations often flow like this:

Me: I need to go to the butcher shop before they close. Do you want me to get some steak?

Anthony: Yes but not, not ….

Me: Not T-Bone?

Anthony: Fillet.

Me: But I love T-Bone! Why do you always insist on fillet?

Anthony: Better value.

Way back when Ants was home and still fit, his method of cooking steak on the barbecue was absolutely brilliant. He had it down to a fine art and wouldn’t let anyone help. The steak was always absolutely mouthwateringly delicious (as were my accompanying salads of course!) Apart from our many merry guests over the years, the only additional accoutrement was hot English mustard; wine and beer were a given.

Oh how I miss those days!

Anthony’s dementia means he is spared from the kind of nostalgia I feel because ‘those days’ are still here somehow and this afternoon he happily sent me off to the butcher’s for tonight’s steak.

He doesn’t know that, while one of the wonderful carers is feeding him his dinner right now, I am home, steak-less but smiling with these very happy food memories….

And eating yesterday’s popcorn!



The outings

It became impossible a long time ago for me to take Anthony home, or out for a drive etc. because he is just too immobile. But one of his many nephews, Michael, makes a point of coming down from Perth regularly and actually enabling such an outing.

Michael always liaises with me about what time of day, and we make a tentative plan. So, a few days ago, Michael arrived promptly at 10am and, with the help of one of the nurses, we got Ants into Michael’s car and drove down to the Dome cafe.

Over the years, this has been a regular occurrence and I love it because, without physical assistance, I can’t get Ants out and about but Michael makes this easy. It is a fantastic gesture and each of those mornings in Michael’s car, with all of us sipping coffee and Anthony gobbling his own, and Michael’s cake or biscuit has left an imprint.

Thank you, Michael.


Dementia dialogues

I was writing these snippets on Facebook but, now that I’m having a break from Facebook (because I keep getting confused about what I have written where!) I’m just writing them here.

As I was trying to reposition Ants in his armchair the other day, this was our conversation:

Anthony: You’re such a great big thing aren’t you.

Me: What? How dare you!

Anthony: Well you are!

Me: That’s only because you’ve become a tiny little dandelion!

Anthony: Yes, but I have power.

Me: Oh you do, do you?

Anthony: You still love me.

Well, he does have a valid point!




I remember the day, decades ago, when I discovered an enormous spider in the kitchen of Anthony’s house. Anthony was milking the cows and his mother, who we all called ‘Gar’, was having her afternoon nap, and I was trying to get the lumps out the white sauce I was trying to make on the Aga, to mix with the tinned salmon. I was nineteen and, even though I’d lived in Papua New Guinea for three years and I wasn’t afraid of spiders, I thought it best if I killed this particular giant.

So I found the fly spray and used almost the whole can to crumple the spider onto the kitchen floor. It died simultaneously with the white sauce which I only just rescued the Aga from (another story).

When Anthony came in from milking, I told him about my heroics proudly. He was aghast.

Anthony: You killed Martha?

Me: What do you mean?

Anthony: Martha is our pet spider, Jules.

Me: Oh no, I’m so sorry.

Anthony: Mum will be devastated.

Me: But you didn’t tell me you had a pet spider. Why didn’t you tell me?

Anthony: Where is she?

Me: Your mum? She’s resting.

Anthony: No – where is Martha?

Me: I’m so sorry but I put her into the outside rubbish bin. (I begin to cry).

Anthony: Jules – I am kidding!

Okay, so over 35 years later, I am sitting next to Anthony in the nursing home and he is boringly slumbery, so I put my face up close – nose to nose – and shout “Wake up!” His eyes open but he doesn’t focus. I keep my face close to his and all of a sudden he launches up in his armchair with an unexpectedly loud “BOO!”and nearly head-butts me.

Me: You scared the hell out of me, Ants!

Anthony: That was the desired effect, my dear.







Ming has a new job at a different restaurant but has been called in so often over the last few days that he hasn’t had time to wash the one white shirt and blue apron he was given.

He is not just fiercely independent, he is ferociously independent, so all of my offers to wash these items have been rejected.

But this morning he has gone to Perth by train to pick up a second-hand ute (truck) we’ve bought to replace our old unregistered one. He will be back by noon.

So I have a window of time in which to secretly wash and dry the shirt and the apron (separately of course). The shirt is now nearly dry and the apron is in the washing machine.

Once both items are clean and dry, I will have to fling them onto the chair where Ming left them last night, so that he won’t suspect.

Wish me luck!


Elton John

Elton John made a guest appearance on one of those daytime shows ¬†yesterday and so I put the volume of Anthony’s television up. As soon as Elton starting performing, Anthony began to wave his arms and tap his knees.

Me: You should be a conductor!

Anthony: Yes, I’ve been told that before.

I love these moments of hilarity!




Today I arrived at the nursing home in time to feed Ants his lunch after which he also consumed three chocolate bars – a Cherry Ripe, a Boost, and a Mars Bar (thanks, Mel!)

He chewed through all of this chocolate slowly – very slowly!

Me: Are you chewing every mouthful one hundred times?

Anthony: Yes, because I am enjoying it one hundred times.

But that’s not the point of this post. Even though Anthony’s previously loud voice has become such a whisper, this is what he said next:

Anthony: I can’t stop thinking about what X said yesterday.

Me: What? Was X here?

Anthony: Yes and he said “Where is Julie; we need Julie.”

And Ants actually repeated this a couple of times, and was adamant that X had said these positive words about me. So, whether Ants is deluded or not, I choose to believe it.




This afternoon I arrived at the nursing home to find Anthony in one of his unwakeable slumbers. I had brought two very ripe bananas but I couldn’t wake him enough to eat them. I whispered in his ear that I would be back soon. He nodded in his sleep.