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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What Love is, and is Not

Months ago I joined a local writing group but had only attended one meeting until tonight, when an open mic. event was hosted by a café in the little city ten minutes away from this farm.

I had written a short poem for a beautiful young couple, who were recently married in Fiji, because they reminded me of how Anthony and I were. Their love for each other resonated gently with me, but also made me super nostalgic.

Anyway, for the open mic. I extended the poem to include my grief at losing the love of my life, not anticipating that I might falter in my performance of it!

Here is the poem, dedicated in original form to Tash and Mike and, in extended form, to Anthony and me:

WHAT LOVE IS/& IS NOT

Sometimes,
when I am trying to
figure out
what Love is
and isn’t,
I endeavour to squish it
into a package of
neat-and-tidy certainty,
a security blanket of
absoluteness.
Full stop.

So,
I get anxious
about
the loose threads….

And then it strikes me
that Love is anything but
neat and tidy!

Instead,
Love is an unravelling….

Full of mystery,
and gasping with hope,
Love is a chuckling
journey,
a glass of water
on a really hot day,
and as simple
as a single, tiny,
plump
moment.

It will be my second Christmas without you,
my beautiful, adoring husband.
I want you back
to see the moonflowers blooming.
I want you back
to pick the figs and
to watch the blue wrens flitter busily.
I want you back
to watch Black Books and
to supervise the Sunday roast.
I want you back
to feel the bruise of my Love unravelling into your broad chest.
I want you back
to grip my hand in yours until my fingers crack.
I want you back to help me come to terms with life without you.
I
just
want
you
to
please
come
back.

Sometimes,
when I am trying to
figure out
what Love is
and isn’t,
I endeavour to squish it
into a package of
neat-and-tidy certainty,
a security blanket of
absoluteness.
Full stop.

So,
I get anxious
about
the loose threads….

And then it strikes me
that Love is anything but
neat and tidy!

Instead,
Love is an unravelling….

As I read the poem out tonight, I was in fine form until the third I want you back when I broke into stumbling tears. I was a bit embarrassed that my own poem made me cry but the audience, of around 50 people, was compassionate.

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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.

IMG_4410

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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Lost for words….

Anthony: JULES!

Me: I lost count of our imagined conversations awhile ago – sorry, Ants.

Anthony: I know.

Me: So much private stuff blogged for the world to see, Ants. I am a bit embarrassed actually, now that my grief has calmed down.

Anthony: NEVER, EVER be embarrassed, Jules! It is beautiful.

Me: What is beautiful?

Anthony: Your love for me.

Me: What about your love for me?

Anthony: Surely that is a given?

Me: I just miss you saying it to me, Ants; it took so many years for you to be confident enough to say it….

Anthony: I adore you, Jules.

Me: Nearly.

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

Me: Overkill.

Anthony: I love you, Jules.

Me: I love you too, Ants.

8 Comments »

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.

 

 

 

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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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