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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Back to the birds!

I was going to write something poignant, but I am too fascinated by why these two pigeoney-dovey-looking birds keep rejecting my offerings. For ages they have been visiting two fence posts just outside my front window. So I left crumbs (which a clever crow immediately took), then I put nuts out on the top of those two particular fence posts.

During the night it rained so I guess the nuts are now a bit soggy. The two pigeon-dovey-looking birds seem almost to be afraid of my strange offering. I will have to be more subtle and I am not gifted with subtlety ha!

It is such a great relief to let go of the poignancy, to charge my camera’s battery again, to watch the birds from my front window – the most beautiful view – or just to sit on the front veranda watching the sky’s birds at near-dusk.

 

 

 

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The pink sky

I watch the sky pinking from our front veranda and, breathing easily now, again, I wonder with a deep curiosity about your strong voice to me on my mother’s phone yesterday. Your voice was louder than usual, and comforting. You remembered my few-and-far-between asthma attacks just as you remembered the drama of how we turned orange from too much carrot juice years ago. I couldn’t believe how strong your voice was; you sounded so normal and in control; your voice wasn’t whispery, you didn’t sound confused, you helped me.

I have now drawn the blinds on a pink sky gone dark and am into day two of no steroids for the asthma. Some friends/commenters have suggested that this asthma attack may well be due to emotional stuff and I am quite willing to accept that possibility. Perhaps the ongoing, relentless, anticipatory grief of losing my beautiful husband has gotten the better of my psyche. Perhaps seeing our son’s grief and bewilderment has turned everything I once saw as pink into a dull grey. I don’t know.

It is probably a terrible pressure on a single son to ask for the pink in the sky to come back, but I know, without any doubt, that he can do this. Ming.

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Peacock poop

I thought it was time for a light-hearted post so here goes.

Every morning I am woken up by a bang-crash sound from the back of the house. King Ken has never done this before but he is now attacking his reflection in the back veranda windows on a regular basis. He does this so ferociously that I’m a bit nervous he will actually break a window.

Here he is pretending innocence.

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Now, apart from the alarming regularity of this banging and crashing, King Ken’s obsession with his own reflection also means that there is more than the usual amount of peacock poop waiting for me every morning outside the back door. Obviously I have to wait for this to dry before I can sweep it away because my new straw broom (which I can’t find anyway) doesn’t take kindly to wet peacock poop.

I like to tell Anthony about these mini-adventures and show him photos, but his verbal responses are now becoming few and far between. Our friend, N, another resident in the high care section, is also becoming less vocal although she still possesses a wonderful ability to laugh loudly. N’s daughter and I have become friends via our mutual concern for each other and our two loved ones.

Yesterday Ants couldn’t get any words out at all, no matter how much he tried, so I began to “interpret” what he was trying to say by suggesting possible topics from recent conversations. I didn’t always get it right but, when I did, he would sigh with relief (or maybe resignation) and give me a small smile. He was very sleepy and silent but not sad; he is never sad and this amazes me! I have never known anyone to be this resilient and content and this is a gift to me now because he has always had a rather calmingly buoyant effect on me.

I love metaphors and I was thinking that King Ken’s bang/crash might represent what used to be Anthony’s very healthy ego (still intact). But maybe King’s antics represent me versus the brick wall of acceptance.

As for the peacock poop, or any poop for that matter, it is its own metaphor and I just need to find my straw broom!

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Sigh of relief

I have mentioned Dina before (my decluttering friend) and, more recently, Dan (my vegetable garden artist). Well, yesterday they both happened to be here at the same time. Dina was here in the house with me, helping me with a huge pile of filing, and Dan was outside, replenishing the crop of vegetables that had been eaten by rabbits.

The other people who were here were the guys (Eric and Aaron) who I’d employed to rabbit-proof the fence around the vegetable garden and they are doing a marvellous job! I think you have to be Australian to realise what a curse to crops rabbits are. Anyway these guys have dug trenches deep enough to put steel mesh underneath the ground to stop the scoundrels from getting in and eating my carrots etc.

The ‘sigh of relief’ title of this post is just to do with knowing that these are people I can call on, professionally and, sometimes, personally.

And Chris, my computer guru, has helped me solve my cursor acrobatics since getting the new modem – sigh. I have, once again, found it impossible (except via phone) to access the internet.

Dina visited Anthony the other day and helped him with his lunch. He asked for me but she explained that she was there instead of me (this is what my mother does. Then he said to her, as if he were in a restaurant,

“This is only the second time I have been here.”

When Dina told me this I had such a sad chuckle because Anthony has now been in the nursing home for nearly four years.

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Nonsense

Whenever Anthony says something during our afternoons together, I either hit ‘mute’ on the television, or ‘pause’ if it’s a dvd.

This is so that I can listen and respond to whatever he is saying, or trying to say. His voice has become very whispery and sometimes croaky lately and, even when he does get the words out, they sometimes
don’t
make
sense….

The following dialogue is an example of how weird and wonderful our conversations can be. I am learning how to be unafraid of nonsense, to enter its world in an Alice-in-Wonderland kind of way, to talk, listen, laugh and pause.

Anthony: How did you know where to find me?

Me: Instinct.

Anthony: You have good instincts.

Me: I know.

PAUSE

Anthony: Can you get this calf to get out of underneath the….

Me: What?

Anthony: This bbbb mmmm toothpaste.

Me: What? Try again.

Anthony: The cat toothpaste.

Me: The toothpaste is free, Ants, and there’s no cat here. Anyway I thought you hated cats.

Anthony: There are five.

Me: You’re hallucinating but I’ll shoo them away, anyway; is that better?

Anthony: Not much.

PAUSE

Me: So, do you think I look different today?

Anthony: No.

Me: Ants, I am wearing a dress for God’s sake. I never wear dresses!

Anthony: Oh.

Me: So what is different about me?

Anthony: Your legs are shorter.

Me: Oh.

Anthony: Is Mum okay?

Me: My mum or your mum?

Anthony: Ours.

Me: She’s fine.

Anthony: Where’s Ming?

Me: He’s at work but he’s coming to visit soon.

Anthony: Does he know I’m at the Rose Hotel?

Me: I’ll tell him.

Anthony: Where is your mother?

Me: Why do you always want to know where my mother is?

Anthony: Well she should be here and I’m worried about her eyes.

Me: Can we just watch the show, Ants?

Anthony: Haven’t we seen this, Jules?

Me: Well it’s a series, so yes and no. We are now up to the third season.

Anthony: Can you bumblebee the cardboard over there?

Me: What?

Anthony: Can you mmmbrrr oh my words don’t. What’s the thing wrong again, Jules?

Me: Ants, you have Parkinson’s, plus you are really quite old. And you have very strange ears.

Anthony: I have perfect ears!

PAUSE

Anthony: You have a sexy stomach.

Me: WHAT? Stop looking at my stomach – I ate too much lunch!

Anthony: Look at mine – I’m thin.

Me: Well there’s no need to rub it in.

PAUSE

Anthony: There’s that baby again.

Me: It’s not a baby; it’s my handbag! See!

Anthony: I think we should go to Golden Valley [his childhood home].

Me: Not today. It’s too cold.

PAUSE

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Yes?

Anthony: Bbbb mmmm – oh I can’t speak.

Me: Do you want the rug on your knees?

Anthony: That’s the elbow, good.

PAUSE

Me: You’re adorable and I love you.

Anthony: Mmm.

Me: You’re supposed to say it back.

Anthony: What?

Me: ‘I love you’.

Anthony: I know you do.

Me: No, I mean you’re supposed to say ‘I love you’ back to me!

Anthony: You already do.

PAUSE

Me: I’ll show you a picture of Ming dressed up as a nurse for Halloween, okay? You are going to be shocked.

Anthony: Nothing shocks me.

Me: Okay, check this out!

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Anthony: He is magnificent!

I rest my case: nonsense is a good thing!

23 Comments »

I am so cool!

I feel the heat terribly and, as some of my friends may remember, a couple of summers ago, I developed a condition called “pompholyx“.

(Warning: if you click on the above link you might be grossed out by the pictures, just as I was by the condition).

Anyway, since one of the triggers is excessive perspiration, which I vividly remember my dad having and now it’s obviously my turn, I made a big decision. Air conditioning!

I pretty much live in my writing room, which used to be Gar’s bedroom (Anthony’s mother). Anyway, her 1970s air conditioner died last year, so last week I made the call and the aircon. guys and the electrician installed it this morning. It’s not a particularly hot day (only in the mid-20s C), but as I waved my saviours goodbye, I was already dripping, despite wearing a sweatband.

And now? Ahhh, the bliss of being so cool and the comfort of knowing that when the temperature hits 40 degrees (any time soon as summer approaches), I will have a safe haven! Okay so, in the big scheme of things, pompholyx may not seem like such a serious condition but it drove me quite mad for months a couple of years ago.

I was reminding our doctor the other day and he immediately looked at my hands where, during a funny little heatwave last week, the blisters had begun to appear.

Me: You can’t see them now – I scratched them off and it wasn’t that bad.

Doctor: Mmmmm.

Me: But I can feel them coming back – the blisters. So I think I might need botox to stop me sweating? I read about that possibility.

Doctor: No. I’ll order some blood tests; it could be hormonal.

Me: Yes, of course, but I don’t think it’s just menopausalish because I perspire a hell of a lot more than any of my equally menopausal friends!

Doctor: Mmmmm.

Me: And remember how we discussed cranio-facial hyper-hydrosis, or whatever you call it, last year? That’s me! It’s just my face, head and hands – the rest of me sweats normally.

Doctor: Mmmmm.

Okay so the doctor doesn’t do the mmmmmm thing loudly but it’s definitely a component of our conversations, with a chuckle here and there. I much prefer the mmmmm.

Anyway, as the young aircon. guys were leaving, I apologised for the peacock noise (it’s spring, so they are yaaaaawking constantly). One of the guys said ‘They are so cool!’

I agree and here are a couple of shots of Prince minus his back view!
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As this beautiful white peacock does his twirling, fanning, wonderful dance, his feathers muscle their way into the breeze and sing:

I am so cool!

49 Comments »

The suffering conundrum

I just don’t get it. Why does one person cop multiple illnesses? And why does this seem to happen to the beautiful people?

Later this week I will be travelling to Perth to meet my friend at the airport, after which we will spend two luxurious nights at a resort. During the days, I will take my friend to her medical appointments; in the evenings we will sip wine, eat pizza, and reminisce.

She was the first kid to say hello to me on the bus to school after my family moved from PNG to Australia. Since then, we have had years of little contact due to busyness, geography etc. but, more recently, have reconnected.

‘How is it possible for you to still laugh?’ I asked her on the phone tonight, to which she replied with her laugh.

My friend suffers severe eye conditions and an unhealed broken foot and yet she can still maintain laughter within her suffering. How does she do this?

I haven’t mentioned her name because she is very private but I so wish I could salute her publicly because she is amazingly philosophical and pragmatic.

And maybe she and I will make a bit of sense out of the suffering conundrum when we see each other in a couple of days. I can’t wait!

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Sorry about that image. Prince always seems to want to give me the back view. Here is a better view.

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35 Comments »

Cycling!

I have discovered a route around this countryside that is hopefully truck-free; I have bought a new bicycle pump; I have dusted the cobwebs of my bicycle; I have made myself determined ….

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Argh!

40 Comments »

Wings

The weather here is warming up rapidly and the five peacocks are madly competing for the attention of the three peahens. (I definitely need to replenish my stock of hens but don’t tell Ming!)

Every Spring the guys do their display thing, flirting with everything from the old dairy shed, to the car, to the windows of the enclosed back veranda. They also flirt with the peahens of course whose indifference is hilarious.

For most of the year, King Ken and Prince are the best of friends but during Spring they become bitter rivals:

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King Ken: Don’t come any closer, kid.
Prince: Sorry, Uncle.

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King Ken: And stop copying my moves!
Prince: I don’t mean to, Uncle, it’s just sort of automatic.

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Prince: I bow to your majesty. You have to believe me, Uncle!

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Then, all of a sudden, they flew up and at each other with claws and wings arrowed. I wasn’t quick enough, with my phone camera, to capture this brief struggle; also I had to break it up! King Ken skedaddled with the other Kings so I comforted Prince with a bit of bread.

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………………………………………………………

Sometimes I wonder why I write these little stories, put fake words into the mouths of these beautiful, wordless birds via captions. I think it’s something to do with the way I first began to cope with Anthony’s Parkinson’s – the birds we accumulated – guinnea fowl, peafowl, various poultry…. In the beginning it was such a joy.

Then, as Anthony’s health deteriorated, and Ming needed spinal surgery, and I had to resign from my job at the university, the birds became symbolically, and realistically, a source of incredible comfort.

Wings.

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