wings and things


I think that contentment is underrated. Anthony has always had it, and Ming has it too, whereas I have always struggled.

Lately, Anthony makes me feel the most wonderful calm; he is so accepting of what is (a huge lesson to me). Ming drops in between restaurant shifts and we all have a bit of a laugh at whatever show is on TV.

Today, after Ming left, this was my conversation with Anthony:

Me: We are all so lucky in our relationship with each other, Ants!

Anthony: Yes, we don’t seem to be losing any hours.

When I think about his words, I feel content.



“I love you” variations

I say this so often to Anthony that he has developed some rather cynical responses:

Me: I love you!
Anthony: Yes, I know.
Me: I LOVE youuuuuu!
Anthony: So you keep saying.
Me: Oh but I absolutely adoringly love you to the moon!
Anthony: Jules, shut up!
Me: But Ants, I love your big nose, your wide eyes, your weird ears!
Anthony: Your hair looks better.
Me: What?
Anthony: Stop fumbling.

I love him – I love our conversations, often full of mirth, irony, nonsense, joy, mystery and a strange sort of hope. Of course it wasn’t always like this; over the years it has been a very difficult transition from home to nursing home. Sometimes Anthony thinks he has just arrived so we have to go through the same initial conversation again.

What most amazes me is Anthony’s acceptance of what is. He has always been able to do this and is much better at going-with-the-flow than I am, and, incredibly, has never suffered depression. That illness seems to be mine alone and has been for some time and Ants sustains me with his incredible sense of humour.

Anthony: So why are you so down?

Me: What? Why do you think? You’re in a nursing home, Ming is down in the dumps, and I still haven’t produced that blockbuster novel.

Anthony: Don’t worry so much. I cleared the shed out and re-painted it and it looks wonderful.

Me: When did you do that?

Anthony: Yesterday.

Me: Well no wonder you’re exhausted!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: What now?

Anthony: I love you too.










My mother, Meg, and I made the trip down south to see her fourth newly born great-grandchild/my second great-niece. This entailed several hours of driving; we all wish we lived closer – oh well.

When we finally got to the hospital and the new baby was in my mother’s arms, my first nephew, Jared (the father), quietly announced that their little girl’s middle name would be ‘Meg’. My mother’s eyes filled up with tears and so did mine and all of ours! There was a great deal of happy emotion in that hospital room with lots of laughs too. For my youngest brother, who I won’t name because he prefers privacy, this beautiful little girl is his first grandchild.


I’m so grateful for this ever-increasing family. It is impossible now to keep up with every single nephew, niece, sister-in-law, nephew-in-law etc. etc. so I probably haven’t been such a wonderful aunt/great-aunt. But Meg is amazing! She knows every single child’s birthday, wedding dates for all of us, significant occasions etc.




Yesterday, my younger brother’s first son produced, with the help of his fiancé, a beautiful baby girl. A few weeks ago, another nephew’s wife produced a beautiful baby boy. This means I am now a great aunt to four children … so far!

Both of my brothers have five children each so I think there will be many more babies to rejoice about in the future.

Here is a photo of my first nephew holding his first child. My mother and I are making the trip down south tomorrow in order to meet this beautiful new addition to an ever-expanding family.


Oh how well I remember this feeling of absolute bliss.

Anyway, today I told Anthony about the new baby and he said, “Why are there so many babies popping out?”



If the shoe doesn’t fit

When we first entered the nursing home world, Anthony had a pair of lovely R@M Williams boots, which he loved wearing, and some ugg boots for the winter. The former boots were almost impossible to get on and the ugg boots were impractical in the summer. So I was asked to get him some velcro slippers – the kind that can be undone at the front and back for easy fitting. So far he has now gone through three pairs of these and last week I found the final pair in a bag labelled “Unsafe”.

After talking to a couple of the occupational therapy staff, it was suggested that I get him running shoes that have more support in the heel area. This is because Anthony’s feet, especially his heels, were slipping inside the slippers and this was making it difficult for staff to get him up to transfer to the shower or to walk etc. His feet won’t do what he wants them to do and one of them in particular just keeps kind of folding in on itself.

So, after several days of looking for suitable shoes and bringing two pairs in (neither of which were suitable) I have decided that I will have to fork out the $189 for the homipeds. In the meantime he is in his ugg boots.

One of the carers and I tried to get my recent shoe purchase onto Anthony’s feet today and it was absolutely impossible, so tomorrow I will go and get those homipeds and hope for the best.

Me: Ants, I have some different shoes and they’re two sizes too big so I should be able to get them on.


Me: Just push your foot in!


ME: You’re not even trying, Ants!

Anthony: Yes I am.

Me: Argh – this is ridiculous. Here’s the shoe and here’s your foot and it’s a perfect match. OMG I am sweating! Okay, let’s try the other foot.


Anthony: You should have a bit of a rest, Jules.

Me: These shoes are definitely NOT going to work because if the nurses have to spend this long getting the stupid things on your stupid feet we’ll be blacklisted for shoe negligence.

Anthony: But my hands are okay, so don’t worry.

It is things like this that sometimes get me down.





Anthony has always had a wicked sense of humour so the other day, when I asked him if he knew how old he was, I thought he was joking at first.

Me: How old do you think you are?

Anthony: 16.

Me: Are you serious or having a laugh?

Anthony: Serious. We just came to the farm.

Me: I thought you were 23 when you came to the farm.

Anthony: No, I was 16.

Me: So how old am I?

Anthony: 52?

Me: So how can I be 52 if you are only 16?

Anthony: I’m young.

Me: Sorry to have to break this to you, Ants, but you are actually 80.


Anthony: What rubbish!

Me: No, you really are 80, Ants!


Me: Have I upset you?

Anthony: A bit.

Me: Oh, Ants, I’m sorry but you really truly are 80.

Anthony: I think you mean 60?

Me: Well you only look 60. You don’t have any wrinkles.

Anthony: I’m not like those old men in the ballroom.

Me: Not at all.

Anthony: I’ve never felt so fit! Look [patting his flat tummy].

Me: That’s why I’m so proud to be your wife.

Anthony: Well so you should be.




The wonder of nonsense!

The other day I was, as usual, seated next to Anthony in his nursing home room. We were watching the Food channel on television and, just for fun, I kept turning my head in his direction until he turned his head towards me.

Anthony has enormous eyes that are made even more enormous due to the fact that he doesn’t blink very much (Parkinson’s). So I kept joking about this and saying “What big eyes you have!” half-hoping he would remember the fairy-tale response.

Instead, he just kept sliding his eyes towards mine and, every time he did this, I cracked up laughing. Such a silly game but so much fun. I would sneakily avert my face from the TV and look at him until he looked at me and every time he did this I would burst into laughter which made him smile too.

Such absolute nonsense, but so hilarious for both of us. We’ve been doing the nonsense thing quite a bit over the last couple of years but it didn’t occur to me until now that this kind of interaction might be worth writing about.

I guess it would be hard to write this kind of nonsense thing up as an actual therapy, but, for us, it is proving to be the most wonderful thing. Anthony has always had the most amazing sense of humour and, despite all of his illnesses, this sense of humour is still intact.

I am so grateful that he and I can still get a laugh out of each other despite the circumstances. Ants has been in the nursing home for so long now that every single smile, regardless of nonsense, is like gold.


Love and laughter

I think if I had to choose between love and laughter in a relationship, I would choose laughter. Obviously, having both is ideal but love can be so heavy sometimes, whereas laughter is light.

Today, Anthony was in great form and when I arrived he was participating in a game of coits during “gentle gym”. I joined the game by his side and Kaye (pseudonym), one of the OTs, was running things and she is such a fun-loving compassionate person, she made Anthony feel good about himself despite his bad score! Many of the residents were, like Ants, wheelchair-bound, and couldn’t really throw the coits but it was still fun and there were a lot of laughs. I think I will make a point of going to these sessions regularly because it was obvious that Ants was thrilled I was there.

Later, in his room, once he was settled back into his armchair, we had the following conversation (he has been extremely vocal lately – just when I was getting used to his silence).

Ants: I haven’t seen you for awhile.
Me: What a lot of rubbish! I saw you the day before yesterday!
Ants: No, it was the day before the day before yesterday [accurate!]
Me: So are we heading for an argument?
Ants: No, but sometimes I think you have run off with another man.
Me: How ridiculous! Why would I do that when I adore you so much?
Ants: I’m not sure you do anymore.
Me: Okay now listen to me, you idiot. It’s not all about you. Sometimes I need a break and sometimes I need to do other stuff.
Ants: Like what?
Me: Laundry, housework, cooking, Ming.
Ants: So where will you be tonight?
Me: At home of course.
Ants: Where is that?
Me: Bythorne [the name of our farm]
Ants: Bythorne? [looking very surprised]
Me: Yes, silly!

The conversation meandered over the few hours I was there, but here is another excerpt in response to a cooking show on television:

Me: Look at that roast duck!
Ants: Beautiful.
Me: That guy has cooked it slowly for over three hours.
Ants: Too long.
Me: Yeah, but it looks perfect, Ants!
Ants: You have a point. When are you going to cook it?
Me: Actually, that’s a great idea but I need to get the Aga going first.
Ants: I lit it the other day but we need more kerosene.
Me: I am ordering some next week.
Ants: Isn’t the grass green [looking at the wall]
Me: Yes, it’s wonderful.
Ants: Do you want me to light the fireplace? [trying to get up – impossible]
Me: No, Ming’s already done it.
Ants: He’s a good son isn’t he.
Me: He’s a great son.

And, as I was leaving:

Me: I have to go now to get some groceries.
Ants: But every time I let you go, you don’t come back until the next day.
Me: But I do come back! I love you so much, Ants.
Ants: I don’t love you as much now.
Me: What? Why? How dare you! [tickling him]
Ants: Because you keep leaving me and I don’t know where Mum is.
Me: Argh! Ants, we are in a nursing home and you are in good hands. You have Parkinson’s disease and I have to go and get some groceries! Get with it! I’ll see you tomorrow.

Okay, so all of the above was love-driven but it was the hilarious laughter and smiles we both shared that made these poignant and bittersweet conversations absolutely wonderful. It was one of the best days Ants and I have had for ages.

The love hurts, but the laughter heals.


Bump on the head!

A few days ago, I bumped my head rather dramatically. I’d stooped to pick up some clothes from the bathroom floor and stood up suddenly, forgetting to avoid the corner of the towel cupboard which is positioned above the sink. SMASH!

The lump on my head was massive to begin with, literally the size of a goose egg, but it has now shrunk to the size of a golf ball. When I had my hair cut the other day, my hairdresser was extremely impressed. She showed me the lump in a mirror and  described the bruising around the lump in rather gruesome detail. Obviously, she had to be really careful attending to my hair.

Yesterday I must have been having one of those attention-seeking days because I kept getting the nursing staff to feel my lump. I did the same thing this morning and got the same ‘ooh-ahh!’ response from various staff which was, of course, very satisfying.

The only two people who were unfazed (and remarkably unsympathetic) were Ants and Ming.

Ming: Get over it, Mum; it’s just a bump on the head!

Anthony: You need to be careful, Jules, you’re not a spring chicken anymore.

Anyway, since bumping my head, I have been really slack with both the writing and the reading of blog posts. I have also become  quite slack with cooking, cleaning, gardening, anythinging, but have also become adept at sleeping and watching netflix. Having armed myself with a fitbit a couple of weeks ago (between the asthma and the head bumping) it has been a bit discouraging to find that I have only walked about eight kilometres in as many days.

Once the lump from the bump subsides, I hope to become a more active blogger again but, in the meantime, I have a bit of a headache.





Forgetfulness is not necessarily a bad thing

After not being able to visit Ants for nearly two weeks (due to asthma), I was elated to find him unfazed.

Me: I’ve been so sick.

Anthony: I know.

Me: A bit of sympathy would be nice.

Anthony: Your mother ….

Me: Yes, she’s been visiting you on my behalf.

Anthony: She’s not you.

Me: And Ming’s seen you too so stop making me feel guilty. I mean, okay, here we go, let’s test your memory. When did you last see me?

Anthony: The day before yesterday.

Me: Yes!

Anthony: It was too long, Jules.

Me: I miss you too, Ants.

Okay so my point here is that 14 days were compressed into two days for Anthony due to the dementia factor. This helped to assuage my guilt of course because it was a great comfort to know that Ants thought he’d seen me ‘the day before yesterday’.

Ming and Meg are my greatest assets – my son and my mother. This is, for me, ground-level grief and these two people alleviate it.

One day Anthony will ask me where Julie is.