wings and things

The ungiven gift

on April 19, 2019

You were always going to buy me one
always going to
going to….
You wanted to so much so that
every Christmas
and Mothers day
and all of my birthdays
I held a little less hope
and was embarrassed to have hoped
for such an extravagance.
until it became a whimsical joke between us
until you forgot
or remembered
and worried about the expense
then felt bad
that you had let me down somehow
until I told you that it didn’t matter
and as your memory gradually splintered
it didn’t matter anyway.

For years I forgot all about
this beautiful ungiven gift
until one day, when you were particularly worried about how much money we had in the bank,

I told you a pure white lie.

I wanted to alleviate your confused anxiety
so I pretended that we had won a lot of money on lotto
and the long-ago, work-weary farmer in you
beamed with delight and relief.

It was a brilliant lie and the first of many
that seemed to electrify your skinny brain cells,
unchoke and nourish them
and remind you of the ungiven gift.

Bring me a catalogue so I can choose one for you, you said.
Okay, I said.
But of course we both forgot all about it.

I lied when I said I would be back in half an hour.
I lied when I said that the overcooked scrambled egg you got for dinner
was crayfish.
I lied when I said that your dead mother was alive and well and cooking a roast for us.
I lied when I said you were getting better every day.
And you believed me
because you trusted me more than anyone in the world.

And the lies of golden silence also became the norm
when, on your 80th birthday,
you thought you had just turned 50,
when, having forgotten how to walk,
you told me you had just been on a 20 kilometre run,
when, thinking our adult son was still a toddler you could see playing with his train tracks in the corner of your room,
I nodded in agreement
and shared your delight.

One day, not long before you forgot how to speak,
you reminded me about the ungiven gift.
It was just after I had given you my daily reassurance about our bank balance
to which I always added at least one zero.
Have you found one you like? you asked.
Not yet, I said, squeezing your big, gnarled hand.
But of course we both forgot all about it.

Just before the first Christmas,
I was wandering through a shopping mall
not sure what I was looking for
not looking for anything
my heart pumping its new tune of panic
my eyes blurry with the constant hay-fever I excused them with
(such a seasoned liar!)
its shimmer nevertheless caught my attention.

I stopped in my tracks and stared at it
wiped my eyes on my sleeve
stared again
felt the ghost of your smile touch my lips

….and I somehow knew.

Make sure it is authentic, and ask for a discount, you whispered
My fingers are too short, I whispered back.
Try it on.

With a calm, unfamiliar certainty
I walked into the shop
and tried it on.
A gift from my husband, I told the shop assistant proudly, as she gift-wrapped it.
You must have a wonderful husband, she said.
I do.

On that first Christmas day
I opened your gift by myself and put it on
then I took it off and put it back into its little box.
I didn’t tell anybody about it
because I wanted it to be a secret treasure just between us.

And all these long months later – now, almost two years
I just take it out and wear it when I am by myself
I don’t know why that is,
it just is.

The ungiven gift
of an emerald ring.

23 responses to “The ungiven gift

  1. Val Boyko says:

    So touching Julie. Thank you for sharing here 💛

  2. A beautiful gift from Anthony.

    And you never lied to Anthony, you redirected him to comfort, to understanding, to love. ❤

  3. susanpoozan says:

    What a haunting set of memories and how lovely that you have that ring to remember them by, as if you needed anything.

  4. Who I am says:

    That’s very beautiful. It’s nice to see you agaon

    • jmgoyder says:

      I think of you at least once every day, Terry. I have not been of Fbook or Wpress much as I needed a break. So I have lost touch – sorry not to have been more supportive as I now see how much ghastly stuff you are going through xxx

  5. OnMyFeet says:

    Heartbreakingly, ineffably, painfully good.
    I am so grateful that you choose to share your eloquent gifts of words with the world…

  6. Judy says:

    What an exquisite poem, Julie. It’s wonderful that you are writing again. Thinking of you.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Dunno if I am writing again or not yet, Judy – you know how it goes – the ebb/flow thing. I have been very down for last few months so it was good to get off the grid for awhile xxx

      • Judy says:

        I understand, Julie. I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I hope you know you can write to me at any time. People often think grief is the worst at the very beginning, and it is horrible. But I found it to be dreadful in the 2nd and 3rd years. Very hopeless and dark. Thinking of you and sending love.

  7. tootlepedal says:

    A beautiful gift to go with the memories.

  8. That is so beautifully written, I was crying by the time you went into the shop. I was thinking of you today as I listened to someone talking about having a spouse with Parkinson’s disease and explaining to the children why Daddy did not smile.I found myself hoping that you were writing the book about your experience with Anthony and Parkinsons.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Hi Jane – thanks for the encouragement to write some sort of book. I just keep getting waylaid by this and that + a tendency to procrastinate haha xxx

  9. The story is as beautiful as the gift. You are an amazing woman Jules and I love your incredible gift for bringing your soul to the page. I’ve missed you xoxo

  10. This post made water come out my eyes and my heart feel touched

  11. angelasommers says:

    I am so glad to read this; and it really touched my heart. I have missed reading your blog; it is always so heartfelt and so real. You are a beautiful person, and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

  12. Lynda says:

    Dear Julie,

    What a wonderful remembrance. ❤

    Love you,

    PS: You post when you have time, something to say, or…? Your words have so much more impact for waiting.

  13. This is bveautiful. ❤

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