jmgoyder

wings and things

Imagined conversation 50

Anthony: How’s Ming?

Me: Yes, Ming, it’s always Ming. What about me? When you were still alive the first thing you would always say to me is “How’s Ming?” instead of what you should have said….

Anthony: Hello, your royal highness; is that better?

Me: Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

Anthony: So is repetitiveness.

Me: Ming is fine and now recovering well from a dreadful bout of lovesickness, the details of which I will not divulge here but you know anyway.

Anthony: I only ever understood that when I thought I might lose you, Jules.

Me: Understood what?

Anthony: Lovesickness.

Me: Oh yes, that phase. I remember you crying down the phone and I thought you must have been pretending because it was so unlike your usual macho-ness. And the flowers you sent! Cheap, poignant and astonishing, almost as astonishing as your utterance of the words ‘love’ and ‘marry’ and I was just about to get on a plane to the other side of Australia to see a man who adored me.

Anthony: Those flowers weren’t cheap, Jules.

Me: It was too late, Ants.

Anthony: I was going to lose you, Jules.

Me: I lied to you and said I was just visiting a friend up north.

Anthony: I suspected and rang the travel agent and he broke protocol by telling me you were going to Sydney.

Me: Yeah, to meet a man who adored me instantly. I had finally given up on you. It wasn’t a game, or a dare, or an ultimatum; I really had decided that this confirmed bachelor, best friend, workaholic dairy farmer wasn’t suitable.

Anthony: I’m so sorry, Jules.

Me: Yeah, that’s what you kept saying on the phone to me the night before my flight; you used every lovesick cliché I’d ever heard. I took notes because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and I wrote them on a big pad during my plane flight because I knew, if I didn’t write your words down, I would never believe you had said them.

Anthony: I suddenly realised I might lose you.

Me: Better late than never I suppose but you have no idea how ghastly it was to be chased around a penthouse for days on end by a man who had paid for my trip and expected some sort of recompense. Even when I read him bits from my notes of what you had said to me in that phone-call, through the locked bathroom door, he persisted.

Anthony: Why did you go?

Me: It was all booked and paid for and I felt obligated. How was I supposed to know you would have this almost-too-late epiphany about me?

Anthony: I feel like such an idiot now.

Me: Good.

Anthony: I thought forgiveness was important to you.

Me: It is, but a little bit of guilt doesn’t do anyone any harm.

Anthony: Jules?

Me: What?

Anthony: How’s Ming?

Me: Much better.

Anthony: That’s all I wanted to know.

Me: What about me?

Anthony: You are ferociously fine, Jules.

Me: And the best thing about this post?

Anthony: You are laughing?

Me: Yes!

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Imagined conversation 49

Anthony: “How’s my boy?”

Me: He likes to talk things through.

Anthony: Sounds like someone else I know.

Me: I told him once that I wished he were more like you than me.

Anthony: How so?

Me: Less intense, more lackadaisical.

Anthony: But he’s a larrikin after my own heart.

Me: More like a larrikin with a complicated heart. Anyway guess what he said?

Anthony: Was it as profound as my many utterances?

Me: Definitely. He said, “Mum, I adore everything about me that is like you.”

Anthony: Not bad, but what about my genes?

Me: I have encouraged him to cultivate those but he obviously likes being intensely, philosophically, introspectively himself.

Anthony: But what about…?

Me: Don’t worry, he is also extremely loud, boisterous, fun-loving, easy-going and straight-from-the-shoulder honest.

Anthony: I keep thinking he is still a little boy.

Me: You used to see hallucinations of him as a little boy in your nursing home room all the time so, when this great big hulk of a man visited, you couldn’t quite compute that it was Ming.

Anthony: I was in awe.

Me: I’ll tell him that.

Anthony: Tell him I love him from beyond the grave and that I now have super powers.

Me: Ants, he’s not 10!

Anthony: Jules, I was just trying to make you laugh!

Me: Oh, sorry, yes and you’ve just reminded me of what made our unlikely union work so well – the laughter, so much of it. I wish now that I could bundle it all up – all of that laughter – and give it away, or back to us somehow, like a gift.

Anthony: You can, Jules. You can do anything you want to do with intangibles – emotions, thoughts, words, memories, hopes, dreams, even sorrows….

Me: Are you talking about quantum physics here, Ants? I hope not, because I am in Ming’s psychology course mode at the moment.

Anthony: And…?

Me: Well he has this rather new idea that kindness is better than knowledge when it relates to power.

Anthony: Would you like me to ask God? (There are a few of them here.)

Me: That would be great – thanks, Ants!

Anthony: About Ming.

Me: Yes?

Anthony: He will figure everything out himself so there is no need for us to worry about him. Ever.

 

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Imagined conversation 47

Me: Sometimes I am so full of emotion that I don’t know what the emotion is; I don’t know if it’s sorrow or joy.

Anthony: What’s brought this on?

Me: Tonight, having tea at my mother’s place, sitting between my two brothers and, earlier in the evening, playing with my little niece and nephew.

Anthony: Don’t you mean your great niece and nephew?

Me: Well, yes, technically, but I prefer to call them niece and nephew. It makes me feel less ancient, ha! Do you have to be pedantic? I’m not in the mood.

Anthony: Why are you so out of sorts, Jules?

Me: I guess I feel that my blog entries are sometimes too sad and I don’t want that. I certainly don’t want other people to be made sad by what I write and I definitely don’t want anyone to be sad for me; it’s a conundrum.

Anthony: I wish I could help.

Me: You do help – you do, Ants. Talking to you like this – these imagined conversations, this imagined you … your voice is so real.

Anthony: Your mother, your brothers and your whole family love you so much, Jules. I have never seen anything like it. Of course they worry, especially your mother and she has an uncanny intuition, I’ve noticed.

Me: But I don’t want her to worry about me; I don’t want anyone to worry about me! I’m fine!

Anthony: Months ago, Jules, you wrote about being able to be intensely happy and intensely sad in the same moment – something like that. It was profound, it was wise, and it was original. Is that what is happening now?

Me: Yes, that was an amazing realisation at the time but things change and now it’s winter.

Anthony: I thought you liked winter.

Me: This one seems to be particularly cold; it’s the first winter since you died.

Anthony: Ah, that explains a lot. You are probably experiencing an early equinox.

Me: What the hell are you talking about?

Anthony: Well it sounded good, didn’t it?

Me: Have you made friends with all of the dead scientists now too?

Anthony: You know me, Jules, I’ll talk to anyone.

Me: Argh – remember that woman in the wheelchair on our honeymoon that you tried to start a conversation with and she swivelled away and I couldn’t stop laughing at your dejection?

Anthony: Her carer deserves a medal.

Me: Oh yes! You mean the one pushing the wheelchair? She looked so miserable.

Anthony: She’s here now – the old lady.

Me: Why are you whispering?

Anthony: Because she’s just around the corner in the Horrible Suite and I’m on call.

Me: For what?

Anthony: My job is to charm her somehow. Any ideas?

Me: Okay, perhaps be a bit less pushy and loud? You and Ming don’t have much subtlety, do you.

Anthony: That’s my boy.

Me: It’s so interesting to me because I never knew you when you were the age Ming is now but he is obviously a clone of you?

Anthony: He has a lot more freedom.

Me: How’s that?

Anthony: He’s not milking the cows day in, day out, endlessly.

Me: But I thought you loved milking the cows!

Anthony: Have I cheered you up?

Me: I think so. I’m starting to remember all of these wonderful things by talking to you like this.

Anthony: At your service, my beautiful, wonderful wife.

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Imagined conversation 45

Me: If you’d been a friend of yours, would you have visited yourself in the nursing home?

Anthony: No. I wouldn’t have bothered. I would have thought, poor old bloke doesn’t know what day it is.

Me: Okay so what if it had been me in the nursing home and our situations were somehow reversed?

Anthony: Ah, now that’s a tricky one. I probably would have visited once or twice then mostly avoided it. I know you hate this cliché, Jules, but I would have wanted to remember the way you were.

Me: Yeah that was sort of Ming’s attitude to you and certainly that of many others I guess. I think once someone is in a nursing home the generalised perception is that they are the living dead.

Anthony: Not just the nursing home, Jules – don’t forget the Dementia.

Me: I thought you thought Dementia was a taboo word in our conversations!

Anthony: Not anymore – I actually find it quite fascinating to watch all of the replays of how it affected me. You have the patience of a saint.

Me: I couldn’t have put it better myself, Ants; anyone would think I was putting the words into your mouth.

Anthony: I can think for myself, Jules. Give me a bit of credit.

Me: You seem to be twirling the subject.

Anthony: Are you talking about the subject (topic) or the subject (self)?

Me: OMG, have you actually read my PhD thesis?

Anthony: Plenty of time in Heaven, so yes.

Me: You never bothered to read it on Earth!

Anthony: Hindsight.

Me: Duh. So what! I’ve had hindsight since before I was born!

Anthony: Actually, Jules, I don’t think that’s possible but I’ll check with my new mates who, by the way, think you are wonderful. In fact, we are using some of your material for our Hindsight workbook for the more elderly dead people.

Me: Oh, okay. You guys might need to use a different phrase to ‘dead people’ – just a suggestion.

Anthony: Noted.

Me: Ants? Sorry, but you sound like a secretary – you don’t sound like you anymore.

Anthony: Which ‘me’ do you mean? The sickly, deathly, demented but extremely witty, me, or the hunk you married?

Me: I’m not sure.

Anthony: I’ve evolved.

Me: I beg your pardon?

Anthony: If our situations were reversed and you had been in a nursing home for many years, I would visit you often.

Me: How often?

Anthony: Every few days..

Me: Why?

Anthony: Because I would want you to know how much I loved you.

Me: Sometimes I feel a physical tug of yearning to visit your nursing home, even though you aren’t there anymore. During a couple of my motorbike lessons, the instructor and I went past the nursing home and I almost lost my breath.

Anthony: Julie.

Me: What do you mean, ‘Julie’? You never call me that.

Anthony: I am trying to get your attention, Jules!

Me: That’s more like it.

Anthony: There is something that I want to say to you that you really need to hear.

Me: That sounds a bit ominous.

Anthony: THERE IS NO HURRY.

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Imagined conversation 44

Me: Life is so complicated, isn’t it.

Anthony: Spot on, Jules, you got that right.

Me: And people are so complicated, aren’t they.

Anthony: Yes, they are, Jules.

Me: I have just realised why our conversations with each other, over all of the years we have known each other, have been so easy.

Anthony: And your conclusion?

Me: Well you do this very clever [devious] thing where you affirm me even when you disagree with me.

Anthony: I can read bracketed information, Jules.

Me: Whoops, I forgot about all of your omnis.

Anthony: Having an argument with you, Jules, was like being in a hurricane.

Me: Sorry, Ants. At least we didn’t do it often.

Anthony: But you were right. Always.

Me: I know, Ants, but I didn’t know you knew that!

Anthony: I wasn’t allowed in through the Heavenly gates until I did the Hindsight test.

Me: OMG that sounds horrible.

Anthony: The facilitators were very understanding.

Me: What did they say? I’m curious.

Anthony: They told me that I had nearly left it too late to propose marriage to you.

Me: Really? What else did they say?

Anthony: That I’d been an idiot not to have proposed earlier….

Me: And?

Anthony: Everything about everything about the 40 years I have known you, Jules, is the way it was always supposed to be.

Me: No, I don’t believe in that fate stuff, Ants – I much prefer the idea of contingency. Anyway, forget all that philosophical stuff. Where are you?

Anthony: I’m in Heaven.

Me: But where is that?

Anthony: I don’t know but wherever it is, it’s great.

Me: These imagined conversations with you are so weird. I recognise that what I am doing is a sort of therapeutic writing exercise but, at the same time, it feels organic and I only chat with you like this when I feel like it.

Anthony: Jules, STOP worrying about what people might think.

Me: Okay.

Anthony: And let’s keep talking like this, as much or as little as you want. I am very happily dead now, Jules, so concentrate your fantastic love on the Ming.

Me: Okay.

Anthony: Just a second: Plato and Soc. are both telling me different things about you.

Me: Is Foucault there too?

Anthony: Sorry, Jules – they’re all in the middle of a game of chess, but Plato just mentioned something about love being a kind of madness that is heavenly. Does that make sense?

Me: I know the quote, Ants! “The madness of love is the greatest of heaven’s blessings” Plato. Did he really say this?

Anthony: He is nodding yes.

Me: This is like some sort of kindergarten ‘let’s pretend’ game, Ants, but it is so much fun! I love and miss you with all of my poor, exhausted, grief-stricken heart.

Anthony: Get a life, Jules.

Me: What?

Anthony: I’m dead. Accept it. Move on.

Me: I can’t believe that you have just said what all of those horrible, wonderful idiots say: move on.

Anthony: They’re not idiots, Jules.23602295_1267621250049965_1843189380_n

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Imagined conversation 43

Me: I think my favourite camellia is dead, dead, dead! I’m devastated! I keep hoping it will come back to life but, even with all this rain, there are no flowers flowering!

Anthony: Yes and I hate to break this to you, Jules, but it is definitely dead.

Me: Are you sure?

Anthony: You really don’t have a clue about gardening do you. Now that I have a more objective view of things, I can see this quite clearly.

Me: But all of the other camellia trees are fine! It’s just that special one – my camellia, the one I bought from that lady, Bonnie, from The Vision Splendid Gardens in 1998 at an exorbitant price because it had to be dug out of the ground.

Anthony: The thing is, Jules, plants need water, especially in the summer, especially in Australia.

Me: Yes, I know that, Ants. I’m not a moron! Anyway, it’s winter now.

Anthony: Preceded by summer?

Me: Well, duhh.

Anthony: What you do is you get the hose, position it against the trunk of the tree, turn the tap on and hey presto. On very hot days, leave the hose on for longer.

Me: Patronising bastard.

Anthony: It’s not rocket science.

Me: What? Since when do you use expressions like that?

Anthony: Somebody I knew used to say that a lot.

Me: Yeah, but I don’t water anything anymore because when I turn the tap on, the pump pumps and it uses electricity and I’m trying to be conservative which, by the way, was something you, yourself, encouraged.

Anthony: There are always exceptions, Jules. I watered your camellia religiously every summer, while you were at work, before I went into the nursing home.

Me: So how come it survived without you watering it for six years.

Anthony: Ming did it.

Me: Oh! Actually, you’re right – I remember him doing it. It was during one of his following-in-your-footsteps phases.

Anthony: Don’t be sad about it, Jules.

Me: But I am, Ants. I loved that camellia so much – its incredible, ballerina-like flower, the story about how we convinced Bonnie to sell it to us and the way her workmen secretly gave us three trees because they thought Bonnie had ripped me off.

Anthony: It’s not dead, Jules.

Me: And I used to bring you the best of its flowers when you were in the nursing home and, after you died, I took them to your grave.

Anthony: Are you listening?

Me: Yes?

Anthony: I nicked it.

Me: What?

Anthony: The camellia died so Bonnie and I figured out how to get it here without you noticing, then we planted it, and now it’s flourishing.

Me: What?

Anthony: Your camellia is here, Jules.

Me: What?

Anthony: Stop saying “what?”

Me: I beg your pardon?

Anthony: That’s better.

Me: If you were here, I would punch you gently on the nose but oh, Ants, I am so relieved that it’s okay – the tree, I mean. Thank you so much. I am going to miss it but it’s good to know it’s in good hands. I’m sorry I don’t have green thumbs like you.

Anthony: My thumbs are now a heavenly shade of emerald and….

Me: Okay, I get the picture.

Anthony: Good.

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Imagined conversation 42

Me: We were so lucky, weren’t we, Ants.

Anthony: We certainly were, Jules.

Me: How do you know what I’m talking about?

Anthony: I’m omniscient now.

Me: Okay, so what exactly am I referring to?

Anthony: Our marriage.

Me: Yes! Lately I’ve been realising how incredible it was – how well we got on, how much fun we had, how interesting we found each other, how we could lean on each other, how we never got sick of each other.

Anthony: Are you sure you’re not romanticising things a bit in your memory now that I am dead?

Me: Well, probably a little bit but mostly not. I think one of the most amazing things was how well we coped with you in the nursing home. Sometimes the separation was unbearable but we did it.

Anthony: With alacrity – you.

Me: And with such grace – you.

Anthony: And now we have to do it all over again, but differently.

Me: Yes, it’s almost like a new beginning of sorts. I mean, I still love you so ferociously even though you’re dead.

Anthony: That’s good, Jules.

Me: You’re supposed to say it back!

Anthony: Whoops, I forgot again.

Me: You always used to forget to say it in the nursing home too.

Anthony: Jules, I worship the ground you walk on.

Me: Ah, that’s better.

Anthony: And your beauty is almost too bright to behold.

Me: Now you’re getting carried away.

Anthony: Your eyes are the blue of the ocean and your body is….

Me: Okay, you can shut up now.

Anthony: … your body is like a flower to my….

Me: SHUT UP, ANTS, I’m blogging this! What has gotten into you?

Anthony: I’ve been reading Song of Solomon.

Me: Oh my God!

Anthony: Yes my God.

Me: All I wanted was a simple “I love you.”

Anthony: “I have found the one whom my soul loves” Song of Solomon 3.4

Me: Oh I like that quote.

Anthony: I knew you would, Jules.

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Imagined conversation 41

Me: Nostalgia can be quite a pleasant sensation, can’t it, Ants.

Anthony: Yes and no.

Me: What do you mean, “yes and no”?

Anthony: Well every time I see anyone who looks a bit like you, I get a pang of it.

Me: With me it’s not people as much as things.

Anthony: Like what?

Me: That pottery we used to search Perth for.

Anthony: Arabia ware.

Me: Yes, except it’s from Finland.

Anthony: How do you know that?

Me: I just googled it.

Anthony: We don’t have any left do we?

Me: One saucer. I was going to try and get a cup to go with it but have suddenly realised I don’t particularly like it.

Anthony: Sacrilege!

Me: Anyway, how come a workaholic dairy farmer like yourself had a thing for Scandinavian tableware.

Anthony: I’ve taken that secret to my grave.

Me: C’mon, tell me, Ants. It’s one of the many things I wish I’d asked you before you died.

Anthony: Actually, I’ve forgotten.

Me: Oh well.

Anthony: And all these years I thought you liked it as much as I did.

Me: So did I! The only reason I want to find it now is because it reminds me of you, not because you are the god of good taste.

Anthony: But I am! I suppose you’re going to tell me you don’t like willow pattern now … hey, wait a minute, where are you going? Don’t avoid the question. Jules? Come back here!

Me: Haha!

 

 

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Imagined conversation 40

Anthony: We must stop meeting like this.

Me: Oh, very funny.

Anthony: What’s up?

Me: Well, you know how I used to always remember the anniversary of my dad’s death?

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Anthony: I remember your tears, I remember you always rang your mother, and I remember you being in a filthy mood and I didn’t know what was wrong….

Me: ….and then I’d tell you and you would be so compassionate and beautiful and nonplussed.

Anthony: Why have you always remembered June 9, your father’s deathday, and not his birthday?

Me: Maybe I’m morbid. Anyway, why are you cross-examining me?

Anthony: Morbid curiosity? By the way, his birthday is in April and I know this for a fact.

Me: Okay, so what date exactly? I’m ahead of you because I just messaged my Meg.

Anthony: Just a moment, Jules. I need to talk to the man himself.

Me: This is ridiculous, Ants! How am I expected to believe that you, John Wayne, and now my dad, Brinsley Lane, are all in cahoots?

Anthony: We all like chess?

Me: Well, I know my dad liked chess but you never even touched that extremely expensive marble chess set I gave you on your birthday in….

Anthony: Jules?

Me: What now?

Anthony: Dairy farmers don’t play chess.

Me: Oh.

Anthony: Brin’s  birthday was the 10th of April. Four days ago marks the 40th anniversary of his sudden death of a heart attack at the age of 57 when he reluctantly left your mother a young widow, and you teenage kids without a dad.

Me: How is he, Ants?

Anthony: Put it this way, Jules; I thought I loved you but this guy, Brin, your dad, loves you more.

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Imagined conversation 38

Me: Do you remember that trip to Balingup?

Anthony: And the oysters?

Me: Yes.

Anthony: I’ll never forget it.

Me: I’ll never forget it either. You were mobile and you easily walked out of the nursing home, and we easily got you into the car, and I easily drove you back through time to the place of your childhood.

Anthony: And the old pub, all done up.

Me: And it was a beautiful day.

Anthony: You were in a hurry.

Me: Yeah, but only because if I didn’t get you there soon enough – at least by noon – the timing might not work, the pills might not kick in, you might get that nervous constipation thing, or worse….

Anthony: Worse?

Me: The opposite.

Anthony: Oh you mean my penchant for pooing unexpectedly?

Me: Yeah, that and the whole panic thing, for me, and Ming too. You know like that time in the restaurant where Ming had to take you to the toilet and figure it out, and that other time – OMG – after the funeral when your nephew had to figure it out….

Anthony: Sorry about that, Jules. We didn’t know about adult nappies then did we – wonderful invention.

Me: I was always amazed by your lack of embarrassment – like you just took it all in your stride!

Anthony: What else could I do? My bowels stopped belonging to me.

Me: You see, that’s one of the things I most admire about you – the way you accepted it all. I would be dying of embarrassment for you and yet you’d always be so sort of ….

Anthony: Philosophical?

Me: Yes!

Anthony: And the point of this conversation is…?

Me: Oh, sorry, our back to Balingup outing. So it was only an hour’s drive but you began to visibly falter about ten minutes before I parked the car at the pub so I was doubtful as to whether I’d be able to get you out of the car and into the restaurant.

Anthony: You were so weak.

Me: What do you mean I was so weak? You were like a dead weight! I couldn’t even move you enough to get the stupid seat-belt off, and when I finally did, I couldn’t get your legs around enough to get you even close to getting out of the car, and when I finally did, I couldn’t get you to stand up, even with the walker.

Anthony: I kept wondering why you couldn’t do it.

Me: How could you not know how bloody heavy you were?

Anthony: Because I didn’t feel heavy to me? I was skinny.

Me: Argh, that again – always so proud of your washboards? You were teensy in the end – diminished!

Anthony: You want to say “pathetic” don’t you.

Me: What?

Anthony: I was pathetic. I know that now.

Me: Okay, you were pathetic, yes, but you were also heroic, and I wanted to take you to Balingup for lunch and such a simple thing became a kind of nightmare. When I couldn’t even get you out of the car, I rushed in to see if they might bring the food out to us and they said yes! And they even had oysters – fresh oysters – and I ordered two dozen.

Anthony: An unexpected delight….

Me: And you vacuumed down the first dozen so I rushed back in to ask for another dozen and they got served to the car!

Anthony: You’re a champion, Jules.

Me: Seeing you eat those oysters, and not having a toilet issue, equalled pure joy, Ants. And then, all of a sudden, it became urgent to get you back to the nursing home and all you wanted to do was stay in Balingup.

Anthony: I’ve never seen that trip back from your perspective until now.

Me: I was freaking out because you were slumping so badly and I was worried we’d overdone it. Plus how the hell was I going to get you out of the car and back into the nursing home when you were almost comatose on the way back?

Anthony: But you did it – we did it.

Me: Yes but at the time all I wanted to do was get away from you and the nursing home and get home and just be by myself, away from the horror of your incapacity, away from the bittersweet day, away from the overwhelming love-guilt I had for you.

Anthony: My memory is different; it was a wonderful day.

Me: Yes but it was also final, Ants.

Anthony: How so?

Me: Well, I didn’t know it then but it was the last time I ever took you out and I am so so sorry for this.

Anthony: Please don’t cry, Jules. I wouldn’t have bothered to take me out in the first place.

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