jmgoyder

wings and things

Tomorrow is Monday

Me: While I was away, my mother visited your grave on my behalf and found what had been such a beautiful space overtaken by weeds.

Anthony: She is extraordinary!

Me: Were you watching her do the woodchip thing? Did you know she complained to the shire and they got right onto it?

Anthony: I have a room with a view.

Me: Tomorrow is Monday and your headstone is finally going to happen, Ants.

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Imagined conversation 77: Recurring dreams

Me: You know how I have these recurring dreams about you, Ants?

Anthony: Of course you dream about me, Jules; I was amazing!

Me: Nothing dead about your ego is there.

Anthony: I am so fit now, Jules, my washboards are back.

Me: Yeah well, can we just get back to the dream conversation and save your vanity for another time?

Anthony: Okay, go on.

Me: So there are two recurring dreams. The first is the one where I take you to a party and forget your Parkinsons pills and, just as I am panicking about this, you leap out of your wheelchair and start dancing. I love this dream and I like to think this is your new now.

Anthony: It is.

Me: The second dream is more complicated and is about my long-ago unrequited love for you when our 23 year age difference precluded us from embarking on a romantic relationship.

Anthony: Jules, we have already talked about this and I have already admitted I was smitten too but I was over 40 and you were a teenager. It was unthinkable.

Me: Yes, yes, I realise all of that and thanks for your gentlemanly respect back then but I knew, without any shadow of doubt, that you would be my husband one day. But, because you didn’t know back then, I had to suffer years of unrequited love and it was terrible and embarrassing. That is what the second recurring dream is about.

Anthony: Enthralling, Jules

Me: Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Ants. Okay so I had a version of the second dream last night; I was in my 20s, in a rented flat in Perth, and I hadn’t seen you for exactly six months and I was finally feeling over you, so I decided to ring you up. As I was dialling your number on an old-fashioned phone, I gradually emerged from the dream, woke up and told myself to hang up before you answered – to play it cool.

Anthony: Sorry, Jules.

Me: So you should be, Ants – you wrecked my heart back then.

Anthony: Jules! We had over two decades of joy and produced the Ming.

Me: Yes, definitely your clone. Ants, I love you dead just as much as I loved you alive if that make sense. It sounds terrible to say that but what I mean is that I love you in the now even though you are dead.

Anthony: For so many years I couldn’t say it to you, Jules, and then I couldn’t stop saying it: I love you.

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Imagined conversation 76: the wording on your headstone

Me: The red speckled granite for your headstone has arrived and now Ming and I just have to finalise the wording and….

Anthony: Just keep it simple, Jules, don’t exaggerate.

Me: So do you want me to get rid of the header – The most beautiful man in the world ?

Anthony: No, that’s pretty accurate – keep that in.

Me: Noted. Okay, so then I want the inscription to say, succinctly, what you meant/mean to Ming and me, so I am tossing up between words like beloved, cherished, adored.

Anthony: All very apt but….

Me: Yes, I know you would really like the word worshipped in there but that doesn’t sit comfortably with me because I think it was you who worshipped me first and not the other way around.

Anthony: I beg to differ. You worshipped me first, Jules.

Me: Shut up! I thought we agreed that it was mutual years ago and anyway I don’t like the idea of worship because it implies godliness and you are the most ungodly person I have ever met.

Anthony: You keep forgetting where I am, Jules, so please refrain from the ungodly references.

Me: Okay so this is what I have so far: The Most Beautiful Man in the World/ Anthony Barr Goyder 1936 – 2017/ Admired and Respected by all who knew him/ Adored husband of Julie/Beloved father of Menzies. All of these little phrases are on separate lines on the headstone of course. What do you think?

Anthony: You do me proud, Jules.

Me: I still want to have a sort of punchline, like Unforgotten or Unforgettable but the first one has horror movie connotations and the second implies comedy. Plus I have been advised to leave room on the headstone for a few words about me for when I die.

Anthony: Oh … yes, I didn’t think of that.

Me: Ants, we never, ever had any sort of conversations about death, dementia, funerals because you always, always thought you were getting better and I let you believe that.

Anthony: You are a great liar…

Me: I loved you too much to tell you the truth. And anyway, why didn’t you tell me you were about to die? You never gave me a hint; you were in one of your slumps.

Anthony: I didn’t know I was going to die either, Jules.

Me: I thought you would overcome the slump, do another Lazarus, return to our ever-evolving new normal….

Anthony: It was a shock to me too, Jules.

Me: I am so glad that I nearly have your headstone done and dusted because it has been sort of haunting me in an unfinished business sort of way.

Anthony: It doesn’t matter, Jules….

Me: Yes it does, Ants.

Anthony: I am gone, Jules.

Me: No, you are not gone, Ants – you are here.

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Ants and Gutsy 2013?

 

 

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Imagined conversation 75

Me: Picture this, Ants.

Anthony: Picture what?

Me: Well, it happened on the very day I had decided to dress nicely even if just home alone (a psychological trick I have been teaching myself lately to boost my sense of wellbeing).

Anthony: And?

Me: D and J dropped in unexpectedly and I was still in my pyjamas.

Anthony: So what?

Me: It was 2pm. Also, the grass was neck-high due to the fact that the lawnmowing family hadn’t been able to come for awhile, and there were two rabbit corpses at the front door.

Anthony: So what?

Me: I was embarrassed!

Anthony: What did Ming say?

Me: Ming said he was embarrassed by me being embarrassed and that I should stop saying sorry.

Anthony: Sorry for what?

Me: Exactly.

Anthony: Are you okay, Jules?

Me: Yes and no, Ants.

Anthony: Everything will be fine, Jules.

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Me: The moonflower had to be cut down recently, Ants, because of the root problem; it was entangled with the un-killable camphor laurel, both of which were attacking the foundations of the house!

Anthony: Being in heaven has given me a new perspective so it is fine with me.

Me: I will never, ever forget the day you took my hand for the first time and rushed me outside to look at the moonflower blooming. At the time I didn’t care at all about the flower; I was too amazed by the shock of my hand in yours.

Anthony: I remember, Jules.

Me: One of my favourite memories, Ants, despite the various difficulties that followed….

Anthony: I miss you, Jules….

Me: And I miss you, Ants, plus I am trying to keep the farm looking good and myself groomed etc.

Anthony: If you do something with your hair, everything will be fine, Jules.

Me: Arghhh!

 

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Imagined conversation 74

Me: I am losing track of the conversations a lot, Ants, now that they are diminishing in frequency.

Anthony: Oh how my soul is wounded, Jules – please don’t leave me!

Me: Very funny, Ants, but just a reminder –  you are the one who left. Anyway, the weirdest thing has happened; sometimes I go several days without thinking of you at all.

Anthony: Good grief!

Me: Well actually it probably is, literally, a good kind of grief because I am smiling and laughing more easily again and sometimes I feel a little bit high!

Anthony: You are doing much better than I expected, Jules – good on you!

Me: A couple of people have even told me that I look better, and that I seem to have turned a corner since August when I just could not stop talking to you…. and crying.

Anthony: Those were brilliant conversations though, Jules.

Me: Yeah, but I went a bit blank during that ghastly anniversary-of-your-death month. Ming said my eyes went all dull or something like that.

Anthony: And then?

Me: The advent of Spring! The end of August! A sense of irrational relief!

Anthony: Relief about what?

Me: Not relief that you are gone, but relief that I am getting over the fact that you are gone.

Anthony: But I am not gone!

Me: Of course, Ants, but can we please not have a semantics argument? Ming has that kind of thing down pat.

Anthony: How is my boy?

Me: He is a man, Ants and he is so much like you it is uncanny.

Anthony: How so?

Me: Well he cleans his teeth as if he is doing some sort of contortionist display of how to get whiplash, and he stands outside the front door to urinate most mornings much to my chagrin.

Anthony: Is there anything else?

Me: Wow, Ants – how come you are still fishing for compliments when you are dead?

Anthony: Posterity, Jules, posterity! Also, the Heavenly performance assessment tool questionnaire is doing my head in.

Me: Oh! Okay, just add that you have always had a sense of fun and irony? Self confidence, healthy ego, gregarious – that sort of thing.

Anthony: Sex appeal?

Me: Is there a box to tick for that?

Anthony: No.

Me: Is there a space for description of your attributes?

Anthony: Yes.

Me: Okay you can probably wax lyrical about your sex appeal here but try to describe this more soulfully.

Anthony: What?

Me: Forget it. I am absolutely sure you will pass. Anthony?

Anthony: Yes, Jules?

Me: Every time I write these imagined conversations, I want to leap through the skin of this world and hug you.

Anthony: Your wish is my command, Jules.

Me: Okay, Ants – thank you. I forgot to say how kind Ming is and that reminds me of you too; he is your/our legacy.

Anthony: May I have the last word?

Me: Of course!

Anthony: That was it.

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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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