wings and things

Imagined conversation 93: Missing

Me: I miss you, Ants

Anthony: I miss you more, Jules

Me: You’re not in any of the family photos now, Ants.

Anthony: That’s okay, Jules.

Me: Your family, and even my family, are beginning to forget about you, Ants!

Anthony: We have Ming.

Me: Yes, I have Ming.

Anthony: I’m not missing, Jules!

Me: Only because I keep reconjuring you; I have a very good imagination, Ants.

Anthony: I miss you too, Jules.

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Imagined conversation 92: “Uncle Anthony” and Tully [December 27, 2021]

Anthony: Happy Christmas, Jules.

Me: Yes, sorry, Ants, but it has been too hot for me to remember to miss you. It’s 40 degrees!

Anthony: I hovered briefly over your Christmas Eve festivities and I was deeply impressed.

Me: Are you annoyed, Ants? Your sarcasm is horrible! “Deeply impressed”? Okay, so I forgot to toast you; I forgot to do the ‘absent friends’ toast. I’m sorry!

Anthony: That’s all right, Jules.

Me: Your benevolence is breathtaking, Ants, and I don’t like it. You aren’t the only dead person I know!

Anthony: I just want to be remembered.

Me: Well guess what – Tully is reading a book about the brain and there is a section about Parkinson’s Disease and Tully mentioned you.

Anthony: Tully is a fine young woman and a superior niece amongst a throng of nieces I already have. So, if she wants to use me as a retrospective guinea pig in her studies, so be it.

Me: If you could possibly get over your dead self for just a second, I wanted to tell you that Tully always refers to you as “Uncle Anthony” and, every time she does that, I am reminded that you ARE remembered, Ants.


Me: So are you off to the ‘humble pie’ dining room, Ants?

Anthony: Tell Tully I appreciate it, please, Jules?

Me: Tell her yourself, Uncle Anthony

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Imagined conversation 91 [Christmas nostalgia]

ME: Do you remember that first Christmas with baby Ming?

ANTHONY: The ride-on truck?

ME: Yes! We had other presents too but that ride-on truck trumped everything. His little, round face was so expressionless and quite bewildered until we encouraged him to tear open the wrapping paper.

ANTHONY: Yes, I remember.

ME: That memory is a tiny sliver of absolute joy between the three of us.

ANTHONY: I also remember you going slightly mad with filling Ming’s Christmas pillow-case with so many presents – too many!

ME: But that is what my parents did for us – me, and my two younger brothers. The absolute magic of an empty pillowcase, placed at the end of our beds, being filled with presents the next morning; I wanted to do that for Ming too! I still want to!

ANTHONY: Ming is 28 now, Jules. He would not appreciate the pillow-case ritual.

ME: Understood, yes, but I can’t wait to tell you what I got him for Christmas!

ANTHONY: Calm down, Jules!

ME: I am not sure if I am allowed to tell you about Ming’s partner yet but she is awesome!

ANTHONY: I know.

ME: I just wish I could remember what the other two presents were for Ming’s first Christmas.

ANTHONY: A John Deere miniature tractor and some sort of bouncy ball thing.

ME: Oh yes! Do you remember Ming opening his presents with us on top of the tartan bedspread?

ANTHONY: Yes and, as I watch him grow up from boy to man, I wish I could be there in a more tangible way, Jules.

ME: He knows you are there for him, Ants, like a sort of angel.

ANTHONY: I would rather be dead than an angel, Jules!

ME: Whoops!


Imagined conversation 90: My Christmas present from Anthony [2021]

ANTHONY: No, please, Jules. No.

ME: Oh Ants, I absolutely love them – thank you!

ANTHONY: I think you should take them back to whatever shop you bought them from and exchange them for something more sophisticated and more your age.

ME: My age? MY AGE! You’re the one who’s old, Anthony! You’re so old that you’re dead.

ANTHONY: That was a bit close to the bone, Jules.

ME: Well, yes. Literally, I guess, you are just bones now.

ANTHONY: These cheap shots are not becoming, Jules.

ME: But I am crazy about these shoes, Ants, and I was just trying to thank you for this pretend present from you to me, for Christmas.

ANTHONY: So what did you get me for a pretend Christmas present?

ME: I was thinking I might write a prayer?

ANTHONY: That’s not a bad idea but please do me a favour, Jules?

ME: What now?

ANTHONY: Don’t wear those shoes when you are praying.


Imagined conversation 89 [The eiderdown]

ME: I had to throw Gar’s pink eiderdown away today, Ants.


ME: I took it to that dry-cleaning place you love and they said that the eiderdown would either wreck their machine, or else be wrecked by their machine. I guess they didn’t want ancient duck or goose baby feathers exploding out of the eiderdown…


ME: Look, Ants, I understand how you must be feeling and I got a bit choked up myself, but….

ANTHONY: We only just had it re-covered, Jules!

ME: That was nearly 20 years ago, Ants! Those downy feathers have been shooting out of the eiderdown for years. It’s extraordinary how they get through the silky material but they do, like little arrows. Dust mites are a lot smaller so no wonder I keep getting asthma.

ANTHONY: So now you are part of the dust mite brigade?

ME: Oh ye of little faith.

ANTHONY: What did you say? Why did you say that, Jules?

ME: It seemed like a good thing to say. Anyway, where’s Gar? Just ask her what she thinks about me throwing the eiderdown out!

ANTHONY: She’s playing poker with the guys so I can’t bother her now, but I’m sure she’d be upset.

ME: Is it because we slept underneath that eiderdown? Is that why you are so upset?

ANTHONY: Mum’s winning, Jules, so I have to go.

ME: Yeah, I love you too, Ants. I’ll find another eiderdown….


Imagined conversation 88

ME: Ants?

ME: Ants!


ANTHONY: Yes? Jules? Sorry, I was napping. You sound just like my mother!

ME: Napping? Do you nap often? I had this picture of you frolicking joyously with the lambs and the lions.

ANTHONY: Okay, I’m awake now. Is something wrong?

ME: Not really. I was just thinking about how much I wish you could be here for the various Christmas festivities. I’m hosting Christmas eve brunch again at my place – 15 now, including three of your little great-nephews. They never got to meet you!

ANTHONY: Rubbish! I met the first one and he was magnificent.

ME: Oh yes!

ANTHONY: Let me get this right: I now have nine, going on eleven, great-nephews and great-nieces.

ME: When did you get so good at math, Ants?

ANTHONY: It’s a counting days exercise we do here, with lots of attention to detail.

ME: I found this photo of you with your second great-niece and it melted my heart!

ANTHONY: You are far too sentimental, Jules, but yes that was a special day for me too.

ME: I so wish you could come and see Ming’s house and meet his partner!

ANTHONY: I already know her, Jules, and she is almost as beautiful as you, a perfect match for our unique Ming.

ME: Heaven seems to have made you more eloquent, Ants.

ANTHONY: May I go back to my nap, Jules? Is there anything else?

ME: Not at the moment. Thanks, Ants….

ANTHONY: For future reference, Jules, lambs and lions don’t ordinarily frolic together.

ME: Oh, okay.

ANTHONY: I think you may have misinterpreted a Bible verse

ME: Since when do you read the Bible?

ANTHONY: Since I died and went to Heaven, Jules. Keep up, for God’s sake!


Imagined conversation 87 [December 15, 2021]

ME: So X came this morning and made it possible for me to finally get to work on editing this rather long blog manuscript. I feel so grateful to him!


ME: My friend’s husband. It’s a long story. OMG, are you jealous?

ANTHONY: You are far too friendly and you say “I love you” to too many people, Jules.

ME: What are you talking about? I never told X I loved him; I was just grateful! Anyway, what the hell are you worried about, Ants? I am just trying to write a book about you; you should be flattered!

ANTHONY: “Hell” is not a word we use here but I do see your point, Jules. Apologies.

ME: Okay, so about the book.


ME: I’m still not quite sure what the point of it is.


ME: Yes, you, I suppose.


ME: Now that is a really good idea, Ants!

ANTHONY: We can do it together, Jules, so can this be exclusive?

ME: We might need X in the future – is that okay?



Imagined conversation 86

ME: Ants – exciting news! The guy who has been working tirelessly to help me get the blog into an editable format is coming over Wednesday morning to figure out a few final glitches. After that I will be able to go mad changing 1st person to 3rd person, if need be; delete any images (but save them for later): and go full steam ahead with what will probably now be a novel.

ANTHONY: It’s good to hear from you after your long silence, Jules, but I have no idea what you’re referring to. Also, who is this guy you are raving about?

ME: I’m not raving and he’s my friend’s husband, Ants! And I’m talking about the manuscript that you said you approved of yesterday. Is dementia common in Heaven?

ANTHONY: Oh that, yes, I see. By the way, Jules, sarcasm doesn’t suit you.

ME: What? And what do you mean, “oh that”? I’m writing about you and have been for over ten years. You could at least be grateful, Ants.

ANTHONY: Deeply, Jules.

ME: Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Ants.

ANTHONY: Are we having an argument, Jules?

ME: No, yes, no, well, maybe?

ANTHONY: Where I am now there are no arguments, so having an argument with you would be bliss.

ME: In that case, I actually do have a few old bones to pick, Ants.

ANTHONY: Bring it on, Jules.

ME: I miss our banter, Ants.

ANTHONY: Thanks for remembering not to forget me, Jules.


Imagined conversation 85

Me: Hi Ants


Me: Yeah, very funny, Ants – not.

Anthony: So, what’s up? I approve of your manuscript so far.

Me: I think I should turn our whole story into fiction because the auto/biographical stuff might upset some people.

Anthony: Great idea, Jules!

Me: My mother suggested it.

Anthony: Wise woman.

Me: Okay so I’ll do that – what pseudonym would you like?

Anthony: Alistair?

Me: Really? Okay, and I’ll be Ruby.

Anthony: I miss you, Jules.

Me: It’s nearly Christmas again and I miss you too, Ants; I can hardly bear it.

Anthony: Rubbish, Jules! Just keep on going the way you are!

Me: Okay, Alistair

Anthony: Good night, Ruby.

[After Anthony died, I began writing a series of imagined conversations on my blog so this is simply a continuation of that for the time being, until after Christmas.]


Chapter 67: Loved

One of the things I most loved about Anthony was how much he was loved (and still is) by the extended family of all of his sisters’ and brothers’ families. He was so close to his multitude of nephews and nieces, and friends; he was the life of the party, a confidante to some, even a travel companion to others. Before the dementia set it, Anthony knew every family story possible. He told me many memorable and shocking stories about the past – so interesting, so fascinating for a naive girl like me, and. later, fascinating to a new wife like me.

Anthony was, it seemed to me, the fountain of knowledge in terms of his family history and, when we married, he knew everything about everybody. I made it my job to learn about all of the many siblings’ offsprings’ offspring until we had Ming and then it just became too hard to follow the trail exactly because we were too entranced with Ming!

I married a man who was so loved, respected and admired by so many people that I felt an enormous sense of pride on our wedding day because I knew without any doubt that I was marrying a good man.

Anthony’s death has left a gaping whale-song of a lilt in my heart, of course! But his death also always reminds me of how he was, and still is….