wings and things

Imagined conversation 104

Me: The weirdest thing happened the other day, Ants.

Anthony: What do you mean by weird?

Me: Well my mother went to a lot of trouble to get a beautifully big gold ring cut off her finger (due to a knuckle being swollen) and then she had it re-sized for me as a birthday present.

Anthony: That doesn’t sound weird at all, Jules. Your mother adores you.

Me: No, no, I’m just giving you the context.

Anthony: What context?

Me: After we picked up the ring and I put it on my finger, my mother and I went to a coffee shop and mutually admired how wonderful the ring looked on my hand.

Anthony: Hold on, I’m just adjusting the angle – oh yes, that’s a beauty! When did you start getting manicures?

Me: Ages ago; that’s not the point.

Anthony: I’m still waiting to hear the weird bit of this story.

Me: Well, my mother and I were just chatting about how she bought herself the ring as a gift from my dad after he died.

Anthony: Is that where you got the idea of spending my fortune on yourself?

Me: What fortune?

Anthony: Just a joke, Jules.

Me: So my mother then said, “Are you going to….” and then she suddenly clapped her hand over her mouth, and looked a bit alarmed. She then told me the rest of that unfinished sentence: “…. get a birthday present for Anthony today?”

Anthony: That’s great, Jules – I love to be remembered.

Me: You don’t get it, Ants. She forgot you were dead! When she realised her almost-faux pas, we both had a bit of a shocked giggle.

Anthony: I don’t think my hovering spiritual presence is a laughing matter, Jules.

Me: Neither does my mother.

Anthony: And you?

Me: Absolutely hilarious!


Imagined conversation 102

Me: Ming is the best gift you have ever given me, Ants.

Anthony: Well, technically speaking, you gave him to me, Jules.

Me: Even though he is now 28, and settled, I think he would have loved it if you were still here, no matter how incapacitated.

Anthony: I often wish I could hug my this son of mine and the worst thing about being dead is that I can’t.

Me: But you’re still somewhere aren’t you, like Heaven?

Anthony: I’m not sure exactly where I am but I seem to be able to somehow catapult myself into your heart, and, hopefully, Ming’s.

Me: Thank you, Ants.

Anthony: At your service, Jules.


Imagined conversation 102

Me: Your birthday party’s not happening now, Ants. Sorry!

Anthony: Well, I wouldn’t have been able to come along anyway, Jules, so it’s okay.

Me: Between the time I thought of the idea to now (just a few days!) we are now in semi-lockdown, there are local cases of Covid 19, the border to Western Australia will soon open, and we are already having to wear masks everywhere.

Anthony: Just a light-hearted suggestion, Jules – perhaps you could buy a more cheerful mask? With your dark sunglasses and your black mask you look like a bandit.

Me: Not funny. None of this is funny, Ants. It’s all very well for you, safe in Heaven.

Anthony: Yes, I have to admit that dying when I did was incredibly wise timing.

Me: The whole world has changed since then; it’s a bit scary actually.

Anthony: Are you afraid you might contract the disease and die because of your asthma?

Me: Well, yes, I guess….

Anthony: What’s really bothering you?

Me: I invited your brother and his wife to your birthday party which isn’t happening now anyway.

Anthony: And….?

Me: They didn’t even bother to reply.

Anthony: And….?

Me: Part of me hoped for some sort of response from them, out of respect for you I guess. Last night I rang their home phone to tell them the party was now cancelled but nobody answered so I just left a message.

Anthony: That was very sweet of you, Jules.

Me: Yuck! I hate that word ‘sweet’ Ants – stop calling me that!

Anthony: That was very generous of you, Jules.

Me: Much better!

Anthony: We gave up on them a long time ago, Jules. I’ve escaped that grief by dying but you are still there trying – oh, that rhymes! Stop trying.

Me: I just wanted to have a little family get-together to remember you, Ants!

Anthony: Well you can’t now anyway due to Covid 19 so just concentrate on yourself, Ming and his partner.

Me: Okay, yes, okay. So what do you think of her?

Anthony: Bloody beautiful!


Imagined conversation 101

Anthony: What are you doing up so late?

Me: It’s only 10pm, Ants. You know me, I’m a night owl, and I’ve been planning a small get-together for your birthday – just a few of your family and a few of mine, and maybe some friends.

Anthony: Oh!

Me: I’ll have a statue of you erected in the front garden.

Anthony: Oh!

Me: That was a joke.

Anthony: Oh!

Me: Anyway, I’ll send a few invitations out and see what interest there is. Don’t expect a throng though, just in case.

Anthony: Sorry to interfere, Jules, but I hope you aren’t ordering pizza for the occasion.

Me: Why are you asking me that?

Anthony: My 75th.

Me: Oh, okay, cupcakes?

Anthony: I love it when you call me that.


Imagined conversation 100

Anthony: [sighing]

Me: Why are you sighing?

Anthony: I sense the possibility of a difficult conversation.

Me: That’s weird because I had a horrible dream last night that while I was in Europe you found another girlfriend called Anna and, when I returned you invited me to the farm to meet her. I was broken-hearted and insanely jealous but I decided to behave with dignity until it came time for me to leave, or Anna to leave. It was obvious that you wanted me to leave so you rang Ming to pick me up and take me home to my mother’s place. It was a dream filled with shock after shock.

Anthony: It was just a dream, Jules.

Me: Do you know an Anna?

Anthony: I have never known any Annas, my darling!

Me: Are you laughing at me?

Anthony: [spluttering] No!

Me: Then why did you call me your darling so sarcastically?

Anthony: Because you seem to be jealous of a nonexistent girlfriend [sipping]

Me: Are you drinking?

Anthony: There’s an angel around here called Anna but I’ve never met her.

Me: Good segue, Ants. Are you drinking?

Anthony: All right, yes, but its just just a tipple from God’s cellar; it’s non-alcoholic but it helps us all to fly when we need to.

Me: What a lot of rubbish!

Anthony: What’s really the matter, Jules?

Me: Well, for some reason, that horrible dream made me change my mind.

Anthony: About what?

Me: The book idea. I want to do it after all but not yet. Also, I want to make it a really short book, not the tome I originally imagined and in the meantime I am practicing my childhood cartooning skills and I have to say I am rather talented!

Anthony: That’s good, Jules.

Me: “That’s good, Jules” – is that the best you can do?

Anthony: Sorry, Jules, one of the new angels just offered me another drink.

Me: Is her name Anna?

Anthony: As a matter of fact it is! What a coincidence.

Me: OMG so I was right!

Anthony: She dances like a butterfly from person to person here but she is apparently 3,000 years old and looks like a moth.

Me: Oh I hate moths! Ugghh!

Anthony: You only had that strange dream because you miss us.

Me: You’re right.

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Imagined conversation 99

Me: I’ve just had the most amazing epiphany, Ants!

Anthony: Pray tell.

Me: Well, I can’t be bothered. It’s too hard and emotional and nostalgic and I have better things to do.

Anthony: What are you talking about, Jules?

Me: The whole book idea, Ants. I’ve been putting this ridiculous pressure on myself to get together enough chapters of our imagined conversations into book form in order to submit for publication (which is a job in itself!) I’d rather just keep doing what I’m doing, just chatting with you like this.

Anthony: But what about the book? About me?

Me: Well, I hate to break it to you, Ants, but the book was also going to about me, and Ming, and my mother, and a whole lot of other people; it wasn’t just about you!

Anthony: Point taken. You want to move on, don’t you.

Me: Yes and no.


Imagined conversation 98

Me: I’ve begun the tedious process of copying and pasting you, Ants.

Anthony: Are you taking art classes? I always wanted a portrait done of me.

Me: No, no, I am finding the imagined conversations in the word document of the blog and, one by one, plonking them into a separate document which will be the heart of the book.

Anthony: I don’t really understand, but I trust you, Jules.

Me: It’s kind of fascinating, but also poignant, re-reading our conversations, Ants.

Anthony: I really hope you are not too sad any more, Jules.

Me: Well, actually, I’m not sad at all, which is wonderful!

Anthony: Oh.

Me: Sorry, of course I am a bit sad. Sometimes, but not often, I get those gulpy sobs but only in private.

Anthony: So don’t you still miss me?

Me: I mainly miss you when I read what I wrote about you before and after you died; it takes me back to that era – those years of your time in the nursing home, and before that when you were still at home and I was struggling to cope with working and looking after you and Mingy.

Anthony: I see.

Me: Have I hurt your feelings?

Anthony: From a celestial point of view, no; as a human being, yes, but it’s all right, Jules.

Me: Do you know what I miss most, Ants?

Anthony: Sex?

Me: Argh, no! I miss your laughter, your sense of humor, your upbeat, easygoing presence; I miss the way you insisted on the sink strainer being in place after doing the dishes; I miss the way you always exclaimed ‘JULES!’ when I came home from work; I miss watching little Ming fling himself onto your lap; I miss the way you loved linen tea-towels; I miss the way you polished all of the antique furniture; I miss you winding all of the clocks; I miss everything about you and me and Ming – and the way we used to all sing a little song about the three of us.

Anthony: So when are you going to get my portrait done?

Me: I guess the book will be a kind of portrait, Ants.

Anthony: No, I mean a portrait of my rugged face, Jules.

Me: Oh!


Imagined conversation 97: My birthday

Anthony: Yes, I know, I know.

Me: What?

Anthony: It’s your birthday tomorrow, you’re afraid I won’t get you a significant present, and you miss me?

Me: Sort of. Look, Ants, you have already given me enough silver bangles over the years, and I love them, but would it be okay if you gave me something totally different this year?

Anthony: Of course, Jules! I’m sorry you don’t like my taste in silver bangles.

Me: May I remind you, Ants, that even before you got so ill, you always sent me off to choose and buy my own silver bangles?

Anthony: Yes but it was my money.

Me: Don’t you mean our money?

Anthony: You are becoming more and more argumentative as you age, Jules.

Me: Now that was below the belt! What do you mean as I age? I’m only a few years older than you were when we got married!

Anthony: I think we should refocus the discussion on your birthday present. What would you like? Your wish is my desire.

Me: Silk sheets.

Anthony: I beg your pardon?

Me: I just love the feel of silk…

Anthony: Don’t go any further or I might swoon.

Me: Do men swoon? How strange. So is that a ‘yes’?

Anthony: No, yes.

Me: Yes, no?

Anthony: I’ll let you know tomorrow when it actually is your birthday.

Me: Yeah, well I’m going to get the silk sheets anyway, so….

Anthony: God is watching you, girl, so be careful.


Imagined conversation 96: The beautiful uncanny

Usually, the psychological term “uncanny” is used to describe feelings of uneasiness, even spookiness, but this is not at all how I feel about my imagined conversations with Anthony. After he died, over four years ago, I wrote several imagined conversations with Anthony and it gave me great comfort, but it also felt really real, uncannily so! Even Ming, in reading a few of those earlier imagined conversations, admitted that it was uncanny how authentic Anthony’s words seemed; it was as if the real, alive, Anthony were actually saying those thing, even though he was dead.

Before Anthony died, I experienced the anticipatory grief of knowing that he was dying. He outlived his various prognoses by several years and my constant presence in his life may have kept him going beyond expectations. Who knows?

Sometimes, words, or terms, like “uncanny” need to be cartwheeled into new meanings. For me, these imagined conversations with Anthony are absolutely, uncannily, spot on when it comes to his remembered voice in my head. But I haven’t gone mad and I know the difference between reality and imagination.

There are many more imagined conversations that I have with Anthony that I choose not to share on this blog. And sometimes I wonder why I even share some of them at all!

Anthony was almost non-verbal in the weeks before his death. And yet, now, I hear his loud, laughing voice in my head often. He loved me so much and I didn’t realise how much until now!



Imagined conversation 95: Our story

Me: I’ve decided that most of our story can be told via these imagined conversations, with occasional, retrospective biographical footnotes.

Anthony: You lost me after “our story”.

Me: Well, I’ve noticed that we often talk about the past in such a way that it is as if the past is actually happening in the present.

Anthony: Would you like me to find Socrates? He’s around here somewhere.

Me: No! How embarrassing – no, please don’t bother him. Can you just listen, please?

Anthony: I’m all ears.

Me: I’ve been wrestling with how to write this book about our story for far too long. The thing is, Ants, all of the words, anecdotes and blog posts are there; I just need to figure out the structure now. I’ve also realised that this doesn’t have to be a longwinded read.

Anthony: Lose the footnote idea, Jules.

Me: Oh! Okay. Why?

Anthony: Our conversations can tell the whole story.

Me: Since when did you become such a writing expert?

Anthony: Enid Blyton and I have become friends; she’s the one who said to lose the footnote idea. Sorry.

Me: No, that’s great advice, Ants. Thanks. So are you and Enid ….

Anthony: Just friends, Jules, don’t worry. She thinks you are an amazing writer but she also thinks my own character needs to be fleshed out in more detail; the imagined conversations need to be more Anthony-esque.

Me: Mmmm. Well please thank Enid for her input. Perhaps you could also ask her if any of my possible book titles meet with her approval.

Anthony: Go for it, Jules!

Me: “Imagined conversations with my dead husband”?

Anthony: If you added my name to that title, it might be stronger.

Me: “Done and dusted”?