jmgoyder

wings and things

Aging ungracefully

I am just a few months away from turning 60 but I am not going to say when my birthday is because I don’t want to be inundated with sympathy messages from my younger-than-60 friends and empathy messages from my older-than-60 friends.

Anyway, jokes aside, and apart from the shock of wondering where the hell all those years decades went so hurriedly, I have actually been feeling a wonderful sense of wellbeing lately and, yes, even youthfulness! In preparation for the onset of my new decade, I recently embarked on a health kick – you know, meditation, mindfulness, eating natural foods, exercise, replacing old unhealthy habits (like too much coffee, a Netflix addiction, and the occasional bout of self-loathing, for example) with new habits like coconut water, jigsaw puzzles and saying I love you, you gorgeous creature into the mirror twenty times each morning. The results have been incredible with the unexpected bonus of looking much younger than the age I am about to become.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday, I went shopping for vitamin supplements to enhance my newfound sense of well-being. I took my little basket of goodies to the counter and, trained by Anthony to always ask for a discount, I beamed confidently at the beautiful young shop assistant and this was our brief conversation.

Me: Is there a discount for people who make big purchases like this?

Beautiful young shop assistant: No, but since you are a senior citizen we can….?

She faltered at my gobsmacked expression and finished with ….if not, I can, well – what about if I take 5% off?

I was still lost for words and felt like saying, 5% will not make up for the fact that you have thoroughly ruined my day, but I just said, Thank you, feeling the already-depleted collagen seeping from my previously rosy cheeks.

So now I cannot actually wait to turn 60 so that remarks like this will be justified.

I can definitely hear Anthony laughing.

 

 

 

23 Comments »

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!

untitled

Anthony: Good night, Jules.

Me: Good night, Ants.

 

 

 

4 Comments »

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

12 Comments »

The gift of grief: Imagined conversation 66

Anthony: I sense a poem?

Me: I sense cynicism?

Anthony: Go for it, Jules.

Me: Grief is more of question mark than a word or a concept.

Anthony: Please, not the metaphorical – please!

Me: Grief is like punctuation – it comes and goes and is very subjective – and it isn’t a sentence.

Anthony: Not sure what you mean exactly.

Me: Okay, so Ming responded to a friend who innocently asked him what he was doing on the 23rd with OH YES IT IS THE DEATHDAY OF MY DAD!!!

Anthony: He has your dramatic attributes.

Me: No, he has YOUR dramatic attributes.

Anthony: The poem?

Me: I have lost it now – argh – it was something to do with grief being like a coin on which the other side is gratitude. For example, the greater the grief, the greater the love lost = gratitude for what was.

Anthony: Is.

Me: What?

Anthony: Please use the present tense from now on when you talk about love.

Me: Yeah, but I don’t want to sound all squishy squashy, wishy washy….

Anthony: JULES!

Me: Yes, Ants?

Anthony: It is all good. And, by the way, I am having drinks tomorrow to celebrate you!

Me: I miss you to the point of no return, Ants!

Anthony: Change the punctuation, Jules; change the sentence(s); keep writing and come back!

Me: Okay. I think I get it now.

1 Comment »

I want you back: Imagined conversation 65

Me: I want to keep on talking with you during this week that I have dreaded since August began. Blogging our conversations is, I realise, a weird way of being publicly private and/or privately public and I am well aware of the paradox here but….

Anthony: You really do like to complicate things, Jules.

Me: No way! I would love to be able to simplify/compartmentalise/figure out the wild animal of this grief but I just cannot seem to get a handle on it.

Anthony: You know, when we first met and you were wearing a pink t-shirt, a long Indian skirt, sandals, and your amazing smile, something clicked but I didn’t know what it was.

Me: For me it was a textbook case of love at first sight. It didn’t matter that I thought you were the cowhand and didn’t realise for a few days that you were the actual patriarch so to speak. I was absolutely smitten and it was probably obvious – how embarrassing!

Anthony: I felt it too, Jules, but you were just a kid!

Me: You know that year before we got married where you got all lovey-dovey and admitted that you fell in love with me too way back when?

Anthony: Yes?

Me: Thanks for finally telling me that, because the unrequited thing was horrible. I guess you had already established a reputation for being the long-standing bachelor of our town and I think you rather liked this?

Anthony: Oh yeah, baby!

Me: We really do have a rather beautiful love story, don’t we.

Anthony: I haven’t even found anything comparable in Heaven.

Me: I yearn for you, Ants – it is like this long piece of string that I have to pull out of my throat every day. I know that sounds gross but that is exactly what it feels like to have lost you.

Anthony: Oh, Jules.

Me: I want you back, Ants.

20150927_143929

 

1 Comment »

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.

38804506_1792564927464489_8042694005449818112_n[1]

 

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

 

7 Comments »

Imagined conversation 57

Anthony: I know.

Me: I really hoped that August might not affect me, but it has.

Anthony: Nearly a year since I last saw you.

Me: Those last 24 hours of your life haunt me now because I worry, all over again, about whether you were suffering. Eight hours in the hospital on a trolley, waiting for I am not sure what now! You were barely conscious and I was probably nearly fracturing your hand by holding it for so long.

Anthony: I remember.

Me: My worst memory is, having asked you if you were okay over and over again, you shook your head, no. That is when I began to realise things were bad because for so many years of me asking if you were okay, you would always say. Fit as a fiddle. And it wasn’t my decision to ambulance you to hospital, Ants; it was taken out of my hands. I am so sorry!

Anthony: Jules, the hospital hours are forgotten to me. All I remember is you getting the ambulance to take me back to the nursing home so that I could die in my own bed. That was a blessing.

Me: Did you know you were going to die then, Ants?

Anthony: No, and I am so sorry it was so fast, Jules.

Me: Ming understands my troubled state and even predicted August might be hard for me.

Anthony: Ming understands a whole lot more than that, Jules!

37595561_1321704467965247_8882265699846717440_n.jpg

Photo: Courtesy of Mandy Goyder

6 Comments »

Imagined conversation 56

DSCN0928Me: Today, I had some rather wonderful visits with people who have dementia.

Anthony: What is the point, Jules? They have all lost their marbles.

Me: So did you!

Anthony: Rubbish!

Me: Okay, whatever you say.

Anthony: Why are you crying?

Me: Because I miss your sarcasm so much, Ants.

Anthony: Do you have to hug and kiss them so much, Jules?

Me: Please say you are not jealous, Ants, because that would be ridiculous. Anyway, I only do the hugging/kissing thing casually and tend to just put my arm around a shoulder here and there.

Anthony: That sounds reasonable.

Me: I wish you were still here to advise me like you always did before, about my toomuchness.

Anthony: You have the Ming for that, Jules.

3 Comments »

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!

IMG_4200

7 Comments »