jmgoyder

wings and things

Imagined conversation 68

Me: I hope you realise that these conversations are not about me feeling sorry for myself.

Anthony: Of course I do, Jules.

Me: Mostly I feel really lucky. I don’t think I understood what a rare relationship we had until after you died.

Anthony: An against the odds love story.

Me: There is no need to steal my phrases!

Anthony: You are only two years older than I was when we got married.

Me: Now that is quite weird. Your point?

Anthony: I began a brand new life at 57. You can do that too, at 59.

Me: I hope you aren’t suggesting me getting a boyfriend! Two people have already suggested that. Bleah!

Anthony: JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH, NO!

Me: Why are you speaking in an Irish accent?

Anthony: There are a lot of Irish nuns here.

Me: Oh, okay.

Anthony: You know your idea of working on a book about grief with C as illustrator?

Me: Yes.

Anthony: Genius.

Me: Thanks for the go-ahead. That means a hell of a lot.

Anthony: No need to mention hell; it is a bit of a dirty word here.

Me: Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I am not feeling sorry for myself, just sad, missing you, and kind of wanting go back in time and re-do some of our situations differently.

Anthony: Like you boiling the marmalade all over the Aga?

Me: No, more like you telling me off for being unavailable to look after your mother just after my dad died, when I wanted to comfort my own mother.

Anthony: It wasn’t a particularly good start was it.

Me: No, and it was so embarrassing (in retrospect) for me to be so transparently in love with a man twice my age. 60 Minutes recently did a story about this, so the shock/horror of a 23-year age difference is still newsworthy.

Anthony: I know that these conversations are imagined, Jules, but there is something real about them too.

Me: I feel compelled to keep talking to you like this, at least until August is over. Ming has been amazing, and keeps telling me to tell him if I am particularly depressed, always offering me hugs.

Anthony: My son.

Me: Yes. The dogs are comforting too!

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Anthony: Good night, Jules.

Me: Good night, Ants.

 

 

 

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Your death day, August 23rd: Imagined conversation 67

Anthony: Hi, Jules.

Me: Hi, Ants.

Anthony: Happy anniversary.

Me: Not funny.

Anthony: So how did my first deathday go?

Me: Unexpectedly undramatic actually. I mean the sky didn’t fall in and it was a sunny day. Ming and I went to your grave and placed camellia branches just in front of the cross with your name on it that the funeral people provided. Then I used a red ribbon to tie a little wooden sign, with your name on it, onto the wrought iron bench I had provided months ago but that other bereaved people keep moving.

Anthony: And Ming?

Me: It was his idea to come with me to the cemetery with camellias. That was our plan, then we were going to come home and watch a comedy.

Anthony: I saw what you did next, Jules.

Me: Well Ming suddenly suggested going out for lunch at the Boyanup pub so we did and it was lovely! And he paid, of course, as he always does; he is such a gentleman, like you.

Anthony: But you always called me a tight-arse!

Me: Sorry, I got you mixed up with my dad. He was generous and you were stingy. Anyway, none of that matters now, Ants. Over lunch, Ming and I were reminiscing about funny incidents and we both still crack up about watching an episode of Midsummer Murders with you in which you said something like What an extraordinarily short woman!

The woman/character you were referring to was actually sitting down (which is why she seemed short to you). This was one of many first signs that we had Dementia in our midst.

Anthony: I didn’t know.

Me: I never told you. I didn’t want to embarrass you, Ants. You knew you had Parkinsons disease but you didn’t know about the dementia aspect.

Anthony: I know what I would have done.

Me: Oh great, heavenly hindsight – how kind of you!

Anthony: I would have done exactly what you did.

Me: Okay, okay, and sorry for being a tad argumentative on your deathday, but couldn’t you have given me a bit more of a warning?

Anthony: I did! Over and over again.

Me: I know! You had these TIAs and I kept thinking your death was going to happen any minute but you kept surviving, year after year, and that is why I was not at all ready for the actuality of your death; it wasn’t on my radar, Ants.

Anthony: I pushed your hand away on purpose, Jules.

Me: Why?

Anthony: I didn’t want you and Ming to see me die.IMG_0010

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A visit to my psychologist: Imagined conversation 64

Anthony: Two conversations in one day. I am honoured!

Me: I went to see my psychologist, Daniella, today.

Anthony: Why do you need to see a psychologist?

Me: Let me think … well it just might be that the anniversary of your death is looming and glooming me – duhhh.

Anthony: Oh, that.

Me: I even cried a bit at the start of the session. I try not to do this usually but when she asked what was wrong I just said August, and then she realised. She was just as amazed as I am that it is nearly a year since you died.

Anthony: Daniella seems a benevolent soul.

Me: Bloody hell – I have never heard you say anything like that before!

Anthony: After death comes wisdom.

Me: Really?

Anthony: You will find a reference to this in the Song of Solomon.

Me: Okay, I get it now. You are trying to make me laugh. Bravo – you have succeeded!

Anthony: So what did Daniella say?

Me: To give myself a break, to stop berating myself for this and that, to breathe. She even indicated that my vibes were making her breathless. I told her that I had this constant mantra in my head of get over it, get over it, GET OVER IT, JULIE, since August 1st.

Anthony: And?

Me: Well then I blabbed on about how grateful I was for our rather unique relationship, our against-multiple-odds love story, Boney M, and my recurrent dream in which I take you from the nursing home to a party, forget your meds and you miraculously stand up out of the wheelchair and begin dancing.

Anthony: That dream has actually come true, Jules.

Me: Yes, that is what Daniella said! Do you still do your jumping up and down on-the-spot dance moves? You do realise, I hope, that the cracks in the wall of the living room are probably due to that dancing phase of yours.

Anthony: Sorry.

Me: I so wish Ming had known you back then and I told Daniella that too. I think that makes me sadder than anything else in the wake of your death; your beautiful son, who is so much like you in so many ways, never knew the ultra-lively man I fell for.

Anthony: Why have you put such a dreadful photo of me here?

Me: Because it was just before the nursing home days and Peter visited you once a week after that – one of your many wonderful nephews. His visits were like gold – remember?

Anthony: Yes.

Me: So Daniella suggested focussing on all of the good stuff, the funny stories, the great memories; she even suggested turning some of the sad bits of our story into something comical. Ingenious!

 

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Having a laugh in the midst of grief: Imagined conversation 62

Anthony: I really liked what you wrote yesterday.

Me: Why, thank you, kind sir!

Anthony: The Boney M clip was wonderful.

Me: I knew you would appreciate that. I wish now that I had thought to play it to you in the nursing home. Oh well – the benefit of hindsight and all that.

Anthony: Yes, I did get a little tired of The Office, especially the American version.

Me: I know. Sorry about that but I loved it and it was a brilliant way of passing the hours in the nursing home. I would give anything now to be sitting next to you, holding your hand while you dozed, or stared, mystified, at a millionth episode of The Office, eating olives and sipping wine on a sunny Sunday like today. Or else, chatting with my mother as she did her hairpin lace, both of us on either side of you, our chatter inevitably putting you to sleep.

Anthony: She really did love me, that mother of yours, even though I broke your heart when you were still just a kid of 18. And then broke it again.

Me: Again?

Anthony: By dying.

Me: Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, she really did love you. To begin with, no. I am quite sure both of my parents were appalled that their innocent, teenage daughter had fallen for a middle-aged man who was at the opposite end of the spectrum of their belief system, Christianity. If I recall correctly, you were a self-declared atheist and, as a rather evangelical adolescent, I convinced you that an agnostic stance might be safer. We did have some rather heated theological discussions.

Anthony: Yes, I slipped into Heaven via the back door.

Me: What?

Anthony: Just kidding, Jules!

Me: One of things that most fascinates me about grief is the fact that it is, actually, really fascinating. I can watch that Boney M clip and cry and laugh in the same moment; I can remember the first moment I saw you and the last moment I saw you as if 40 years of knowing each other is a single, resonating clash of unexpected harmony. Now that you have been dead for nearly a year, I love you just as much as I did when you were still alive.

Anthony: I have never quite understood how your mind works, Jules, but if it is of any comfort, I miss you too.

Me: In just a few days it will be the first anniversary of your death which is so weird because it feels like it was just the other day. I am not quite sure what I am supposed to do on this day. Do I go somewhere – away? Ming has asked me the same question – should we go out for breakfast? What do you do on a deathday? August itself has paralysed me somewhat, Ants, which I did NOT anticipate. I feel like I am at some sort of event where you have to choose between various PTSD showbags!

Anthony: I will be having a similar day, Jules. I think it would be a good idea to simply have a nap.

Me: Okay. I just want to get to September and out of August.

Anthony: Perfectly understandable, Jules; after all, I was your knight in shining armour.

Me: You were also a horribly cruel, heart-breaking bastard! Remember our first argument, underneath the clothesline just after my dad died, and I called you a selfish pig?

Anthony: Shhhh! I am in Heaven now and I do not want to jeopardise that.

Me: I am so glad that we figured out it was a family farm, financial situation and not personal. 57-year-old bachelors do not usually get married. I think the expectation was for you to leave your inheritance to either your siblings or nieces and nephews.

Anthony: Why are you bringing this up now?

Me: Because I am not afraid any more of the backlash after we announced our engagement. I was so naïve then! You were so wonderfully brave (although I did wonder why we were taking a case of champagne to accompany our engagement announcement). This is hilarious in retrospect!

Anthony: Bravo, Jules!

Me: When I look back at that scene, champagne flowing, beaming expressions on every single face, I am amazed at what happened next.

Anthony: And…?

Me: Well, the funny/paradoxical thing is I actually do not care anymore about the person who hurt you most and I wish I had developed this ability to be indifferent earlier in my life.

Anthony: Make peace, not war.

Me: I thought the saying was more like, make love, not war, via John Lennon? Your roomie?

Anthony: There is no need to stoke old coals, Jules.

Me: Why do you not want me to tell the truth, Ants?

Anthony: Because I am already dead anyway. It does not matter!

Me: Okay….

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Anthony: Have a laugh, Jules!

Me: Good idea!

 

 

 

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Daddy Cool

I received an email this week, from the funeral directors, reminding me that it was nearly a year since Anthony died and offering links to grief counselling etc. I thought this was rather lovely as it affirmed that my August anxiety issues are perfectly normal – phew! There is nothing quite like being reassured that your abnormal behaviour is actually normal….

Anyway, in remembering the blur of my funeral arrangements, I recall being somewhat disappointed that my choice of exit music/song wasn’t played louder as the funeral ended. It was the Boney M 1979 version of the song Daddy Cool; and, at the time, I was 20 and he was 43. We were just best friends (all the romantic stuff happened much later) but we both loved Boney M.

I probably posted the link to this song last year but here it is again. Risqué, full of innuendo, hilarious, and wonderfully mischievous, this song catches a glimpse of the Anthony I fell in love with, and the daddy cool who Ming never met.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Daddy+Daddy+Who+Cool&&view=detail&mid=EBB60415B4807E19572CEBB60415B4807E19572C&&FORM=VRDGAR

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Imagined conversation 61

Me: Thank you.

Anthony: That sounds a bit foreboding.

Me: I am so grateful, Ants.

Anthony: That sounds a bit final, Jules.

Me: You have listened, and even responded, to my grief-stricken ramblings with your back-to-the-futuristic voice with such patience.

Anthony: Your voice, actually…. and I have all the time in the world.

Me: But….

Anthony: A minor detail.

Me: You don’t even sound like you anymore. You sound fake.

Anthony: I am doing the best I can under the circumstances….

Me: Since you died, five of my friends have also lost loved ones, so I am learning about the multi-faceted nature of grief. Two sisters have lost their mother, two wives have lost their husbands and one husband has lost his wife

Anthony: Not lost, Jules. I have located all of them and they are lovely group of people.

Me: Oh I suppose you are now going to tell me they’ve joined your fictitious volleyball team or something else trite.

Anthony: Angels make very good umpires; trust me.

Me: Grief is not self-pity, trust me. It is a bit like an adventure into the unknown.

Anthony: So that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Me: I guess so but it is such hard work; it can be absolutely debilitating. I had such a handle on the anticipatory grief but no way of knowing how it would be once you had actually died.

Anthony: I know you hate clichés but why not just go with the flow?

Me: If I did that, I would just stay in bed forever. I have to fight this rotten grief; it is just as exhausting as trying to go with the flow – so frustrating!

Anthony: What does Ming say?

Me: He emits pearls of wisdom the way you always did,; he lets me cry into his shoulder if I am in crying mode, like last night – argh; and he admires what you and I had/have in terms of love.

Anthony: I couldn’t have dreamt of a better son.

Me: I am so proud.

Anthony: So am I.

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5 Comments »

Imagined conversation 60

Anthony: I thought we weren’t going to have these talks any more.

Me: You sound hurt.

Anthony: Not hurt exactly, more nonplussed.

Me: It is all the details of death that prevent any finality and, yeah, that dreadful word, closure.

Anthony: Like what?

Me: Like the stupid Probate thing – registering – via our lawyer, your Will to the Supreme Court – to prove that I am your beneficiary, executor, wife etc.

Anthony: So how are your inherited paddocks?

Me: Oh, swimmingly, Ants – the rain has been relentless! Anyway, I need some photo ID of you for this probate process and all I can find is a very scary portrait of you on an out-dated passport.

Anthony: Why is it scary?

Me: You look like a thug!

Anthony: So what happens next?

Me: Apparently, once we get past this probate thing, I will become officially entitled to everything – the house, land, your shares, your holiday house in Bermuda – everything!

Anthony: I thought you thought sarcasm was the lowest form of wit, Jules.

Me: And I thought death was simple, Ants. How could I have possibly anticipated the amount of red tape that would surround your death, or the length of time if would take for this probate thing?

Anthony: I am so sorry, Jules!

Me: Why? Not your fault but I tell you what, Ants, I am getting things clearly written and legal-easy for Ming in case I die sooner rather than later. You never know.

Anthony: You never know what is around the corner.

Me: You used to say that to me all the time in a funny way!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Yes, oh wise one?

Anthony: Tell Ming that it is all going to be splendid.

Me: Okay. I will. And if it is all right with you, I would like to continue these conversations every now and then, for awhile.

Anthony: Good idea and I am relieved..

Me: Me too, Ants. I love you so much!

Anthony: And the whole of Heaven heaves for you too, Jules.

Me: Bleah!

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Photo taken before Ants got really sick – maybe 2007?

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Imagined conversation 59

Me: Sorry I called you an old man the other day, Ants.

Anthony: Perfectly understandable, Jules.

Me: Bev is back!

Anthony: You have it the wrong way around, Jules. Bev never disappeared; you did.

Me: Did I?

Anthony: It is my fault. You abandoned friendships, and even Ming, in lieu of caring for me.

Me: Did I?

Anthony: You are still doing it Jules. Ask Ming.

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3 Comments »

Imagined conversation 58

Me: I had no idea, until now, as the anniversary of your death approaches, that my grief would turn into anxiety.

Anthony: It happened on New Years day, remember?

Me: Yes, but I got over that quite quickly with the help of some anti-anxiety medication prescribed by the doctor. So I saw him again today and he understood.

Anthony: How is he?

Me: He is fine, Ants, but I am talking about me here. Me!

Anthony: Sorry, Jules. How are you?

Me: Anxious, Ants! Waking up in the early hours with a racing heart, sweaty forehead and an irrational terror of the sun rising just in case I cannot face the ordinariness of the day, the emails I have to answer, my volunteering commitments, social arrangements, family get-togethers. I enjoy all of these things immensely but then the anxiety hits, and it hits hard, and renders me sort of helpless.

Anthony: What can I do?

Me: You are already doing it, just like you did when you were still alive. If I had a problem, at work, with Ming, with a family/friend dispute, and even with the nursing home, you would listen and enfold my shaking hands into your big warm/cold hands and there was always a semblance of peace. That’s not possible now.

Anthony: Why not?

Me: Because you are dead, Ants, and I am having a lot of trouble accepting that it is nearly a year since you died and my missing you is probably ridiculous as you were an old man anyway. I should be more accepting of what was inevitable but I still struggle.

Anthony: I don’t appreciate you calling me an old man, Jules.

Me: Well I don’t appreciate you dying so fast, Ants. I have nightmares about that.

Anthony: I am never cold anymore.

Me: So?

Anthony: You were always so worried about me being cold in the nursing home. I am never cold now and never too warm either. I am in perfect conditions.

Me: I miss everything about you – your mad humour, your adoration of Ming, your sense of irony but I guess I mostly miss how much you absolutely adored me.

Anthony: But I do still adore you, Jules! Will that stop the anxiety?

Me: Yes, I think so, Ants, but these are imagined conversations; they are not real.

Anthony: This is real, Jules.21100168_1096504780485218_1332072107_n

 

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Imagined conversation 55

Me: This is my fifth attempt to write the same thing. I just cannot seem to capture the flavour of your voice properly, Ants.

Anthony: Does it matter? Which voice?

Me: Well that is probably what the problem is. There is your long ago booming, laughing voice, then there is your more recent quiet, stumbling voice, and now there is your imagined heavenly voice.

Anthony: Does it matter? I rather like the heavenly voice.

Me: It matters to me that I get it right, Ants! I want these conversations to mean something.

Anthony: You worry too much, Jules.

Me: I know, but the other thing is that I have run out of photos of you so I have to use the same ones again and again and sometimes I forget that I have already posted that photo or this photo….

Anthony: None of this matters, Jules (although I do prefer the more flattering photos of me).

Me: I love you so much, Ants.

Anthony: Good, Jules.

Me: You are supposed to say it back!

Anthony: I LOVE YOU, JULES!

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