jmgoyder

wings and things

Imagined conversation 39

Anthony: Howdy!

Me: ‘Howdy’?

Anthony: Too much time with John Wayne, I guess.

Me: Always joking, never serious, my husband, the life of the party.

Anthony: You sound angry, Jules.

Me: I am angry, Ants!

Anthony: Not my problem.

Me: What do you mean, not your problem? You died! OMG you are just as impossible as you were when you were alive!

Anthony: Is this about Ming?

Me: No! Well, yes! Okay, maybe. He doesn’t remember you being a conventional dad. Actually, he doesn’t remember you being a dad at all and I have to show him photos to prove to him that you were a wonderful dad before you got sick.

Anthony: Is that all?

Me: What do you mean, ‘is that all?’ Ming is affected, Ants!

Anthony: You worry too much, Jules. Ming is a fine, strapping, slightly taller version of me.

Me: Actually, he is quite a lot taller than you, Ants.

Anthony: All-right, I’ll concede that.

Me: I was just telling him about how much you loved him and how you use to say “My Boy” and I made myself cry. Ridiculous!

Anthony: Not ridiculous at all, Jules. I am a force to be reckoned with.

Me: I guess I am in the reckoning-with phase of grief then?

Anthony: No, Jules! You aren’t in any phase – you are just you and everything about you- being-you is absolutely perfect.

Me: I miss you so much; it’s a physical pain in my stomach.

Anthony: How’s my boy? How is Ming?

Me: Don’t you care about my stomach?

Anthony: Yes, but how is Ming?

Me: I think he might be in love.

Anthony: Just a sec. – talking to Wayney.

Me: Wayney?

Anthony: John Wayne.

Me (sigh): Okay, so what does he suggest?

Anthony: Eat more greens.IMG_0008

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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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Imagined conversation 36

Me: Your headstone has become a real headache.

Anthony: How so?

Me: Well, for me, it has been this final thing to do – sort of looming but at the same time something that might, strangely, be enjoyable, like choosing what colour of what stone, what words and….

Anthony: So what’s the problem?

Me: On the surface of things, it’s that I can’t choose the right monument. I mean I know that you wouldn’t have wanted anything ostentatious or expensive but at the same time I can’t just leave that cross the funeral parlour gave us.

Anthony: Why not?

Me: Well because it looked all shiny and lovely at the burial. Now it’s all faded and has probably fallen over in the last storm. Plus the dirt on your grave still hasn’t gone down so I’m not sure how placing the headstone works. Every time I start the conversation with the various headstone people, I stop again. I choose the colour of the granite, I choose the words with Ming, I get various quotes, and then I baulk, and that horrible of sensation of fear comes back

Anthony: But, Jules, it doesn’t matter – none of that matters. You matter, and Ming matters. I’m gone.

Me: So who am I talking to then?

Anthony: You are talking to an imagined me – you already know that.

Me: So what do I do about your headstone? People are starting to wonder.

Anthony: So let them wonder!

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Me: I have it in my mind and heart that placing the headstone should be on August 23, the anniversary of your death. That way I don’t have to panic about doing it right now and that way I can choose more sensibly, without all of this emotion.

Anthony: Wise decision, Jules.

Me: I wish you were here to help me with all of this, Ants.

Anthony: So do I.

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Imagined conversation 35

Anthony: I thought you were upset, but you keep laughing.

Me: Oh it was so terribly awful but, when I was asked to ride the bike up the road at 50kph towards the guy testing me and stop immediately when he signalled, I accelerated madly.

Anthony: Poor bloke.

Me: I shouldn’t be laughing because, OMG, it could have been dangerous but, every time I think of what he must have been thinking as I approached him at almost double the speed required, I crack up.

Anthony: You’re not going to give up after all are you, Jules.

Me: I’ll keep you posted, Ants.

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Imagined conversation 32

Me: Ants, guess what? I found out about this film writing competition yesterday that had a deadline of midnight last night so I worked all day on my submission – it only had to be a few pages of script, with a synopsis and….

Anthony: Steady on, Jules….

Me: I only had five pages to write the script of your life and death, our love story, and to convey what dementia is like.

Anthony: Let me guess. Am I your dementia figurine?

Me: Stop it! This is important. If I am successful I’ll get to work with professional scriptwriters and get flown to Sydney. It could be such a great opportunity to get my message out there.

Anthony: Your message?

Me: About how dementia doesn’t have to be this terrifying, tragic thing – that it is possible to have fun with dementia. Oh, I don’t know, Ants – I’m still figuring it out.

Anthony: Are you going to admit that you lied to me about me having it – dementia?

Me: I did NOT lie to you, Ants – I just didn’t tell you.

Anthony: Well I think that’s pertinent.

Me: Oh, okay, thanks!

Anthony [talking to someone else]: Yes, she gets like this sometimes.

Me: I heard that!

Anthony: Sorry, Jules, just having a chat with Saint Somebody about your script. She thinks it’s a very good start.

Me: You do realise that if I write a movie about you, I will actually be the main star as the patient, long-suffering, dedicated wife?

Anthony: As you wish.

Me: What? Don’t you mind not being the main star?

Anthony: Marion said he’d play my part.

Me: Marion? Who’s Marion?

Anthony: John Wayne. We’ve become friends. His mother wanted a girl; it’s complicated.

Me: And I thought it was me going crazy – it’s you!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Ants?

Anthony: Write the script – write the movie. You are on the right track.

 

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Imagined conversation 25

Anthony: That was very funny.

Me: What was very funny?

Anthony: Your kayaking lesson today, with Ming.

Me: OMG were you watching? How embarrassing.

Anthony: Quite.

Me: The capsize?

Anthony: Is that what you call it?

Me: Yes, well another fear faced and conquered.

Anthony: You made it look so easy, Jules.

Me: Sarcasm just slides off your tongue doesn’t it, Ants.

Anthony: I’ve been busy perfecting the art.

Me: Did you see Ming do it too?

Anthony: His movements were much more fluid.

Me: But did you see when he accidentally fell in for the second time?

Anthony: Yes but I was mainly concentrating on your laughter.

Me: Oh?

Anthony: That was a beautiful thing to see – spectacular.

Me: Well, thanks, I think.

Anthony: It’s a long time since I’ve heard that guffaw of yours –  so raucous.

Me: Is that a good or a bad thing?

Anthony: It’s a great thing. You should do it more often.

Me: I can’t just conjure it up.

Ants: Yes you can. Remember the time you tried to get me to do aerobics with you to that Jane Fonda video?

Me (smiling): Oh yeah, you were so awkward.

Anthony: You thought it might stop the Parkinson’s in its tracks.

Me: Stupid idea and it didn’t work. Hey, but remember that time I fell in the duck pond? That’s what it felt like today.

Anthony: How could I forget?

Me: You were so unsympathetic.

Anthony: The look of shock on your face … priceless.

Me: The good old days.

Anthony: The good-to-remember old days.

Me: I’m going for my motor-bike licence next week.

Anthony: I know and I am trembling at the thought.

Me: You’re trembling! What do you think I’m doing?

Anthony: Quaking?

Me: Not sure why I took on these two new challenges simultaneously. I must be mad!

Anthony: My thoughts exactly, and Ming’s too I’ve noticed. And both of your instructors’.

Me: Common sense isn’t my forte.

Anthony: Neither is coordination. I heard what Ming said while you were driving to the river, by the way.

Me: He didn’t mean it, Ants. And, by the way, my coordination is improving!

Anthony: Yes he did and he’s right. I wasn’t exactly father of the century. I should have talked to him more, or listened.

Me: He just wishes he knew you when you were well. Some of the stories I tell about you, from before his time, he finds almost unbelievable.

Anthony: I liked what he said about me still being around through him.

Me: Yeah, it’s pretty disconcerting – his voice, mannerisms, gait, laugh; he’s like a clone of you!

Anthony: Is that a good or a bad thing?

Me: It’s a great thing! I just wish he remembered how you were before you got so ill.

Anthony: There are worse things. Anyway you’re doing a great job of giving him amazing memories for when you die.

Me: What? Don’t be so morbid!

Anthony: Like the vision of you capsizing in your kayak today. Unforgettable.

Me: Shut up.

Anthony: Just a thought.

Me: Argh!

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Imagined conversation 23

Me: I woke up this morning from the most terrible nightmare about you, Ants.

Anthony: Not very flattering, Jules, but good morning to you too.

Me: No, I don’t mean you were a monster or anything; on the other hand….

Anthony: Go on, I’m interested.

Me: Well, there are a few scenarios where I am asking you if you are seeing an ex-girlfriend – not a real one, that you really went out with – a new one who I’ve never heard of before. Anyway you say no the first time I ask you. Then, the second time I ask, you say yes, but just for dinner and you assure me that nothing untoward is going on. But, the third time, you admit that you’ve fallen in love with her.

Anthony: Ah the plot thickens….

Me: It’s not funny, Ants; I’m still trying to shake the nightmare off!

Anthony: Okay, sorry. So what happens next?

Me: During the rest of the nightmare, we are at a party. All of our friends and family are there and so is SHE. You are avoiding me and I’m upset but trying not to show it. I’m worried that you are overdoing it and amazed at how well you look considering how ill you are.

Anthony: So it’s another one of those dreams where I suddenly jump out of my wheelchair and start dancing?

Me: No. I like that dream; in this one there is no wheelchair in the first place. I keep wanting to ask you if the nursing home staff know you’re out and about and do you have your pills but it’s impossible to even get close to you.

Anthony: Am I the life of the party?

Me: Stop fishing! Yes.

Anthony: Good….

Me: Then a rumour starts circulating that you are going to announce your engagement to this other woman. Apart from the shock of hearing this, I am bewildered because you and I are already engaged. Anyway, as you are too gutless to tell me yourself, you send a friend over to tell me that you were never in love with me and that you are sorry.  I am devastated but try to act cool because people are starting to look at me sympathetically already.

Anthony: Well it’s not true, Jules.

Me: So I say to this friend that I’ve been with you for over twenty years but still waiting for you to choose a wedding date. Feeling desperate, I do a bit of a whispered rant to the friend about all of the years I’ve cared for you with your kidney cancer, prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease, and the friend quietly commiserates,

Anthony: Who’s the friend?

Me: B.

Anthony: Oh, B. Great bloke.

Me: So then the most horrible scenario unfolds. You and this other woman announce your engagement to a shocked but delighted crowd.

Anthony: What do you do?

Me: I leave with as much dignity as I can muster. I find my car and drive away, sobbing.

Anthony: Maybe that other woman is your alter-ego?

Me: No, she has long, thick curly hair and a horsey face, and she’s ten years older than me!

Anthony: Oh.

Me: Is that all you can say – ‘Oh’?

Anthony: I’m sorry, Jules.

Me: What for? The nightmare, or what happened in the nightmare?

Anthony: Both.

Me: Well I guess it’s no more real than these conversations.

Anthony: Ouch.

Me: I felt so absolutely abandoned and alone and angry but I didn’t want everyone at the party to know how I felt.

Anthony: Maybe that’s what the nightmare was all about.

Me: When did you get your degree in rocket science?

Anthony: Superlative sarcasm, Jules – bravo!

Me: Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about it. It’s so good talking to you.

Anthony: Remember how we used to debate the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone?

Me: And how you used to say you loved me but you weren’t in love with me? Yes, difficult to forget that.

Anthony: But remember the day it all changed?

Me: Oh yes! I’d forgotten about that!

Anthony: Let’s save that for our next conversation, Jules. I’m exhausted!

Me: But I’m the one who had the nightmare! I hope I don’t have it again. Are there any nightmare tweakers where you are?

Anthony: I’ll see what I can do. And Jules?

Me: Yes?

Anthony: I’ve only ever been in love with one person.

Me: Who?

Anthony: Now you’re fishing.

Me: Well, who?

Anthony: YOU.

 

 

 

 

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Imagined conversation 22

These imagined conversations are my way of ploughing through the grief of losing my wonderful husband to pneumonia last year. I am not going mad and I am not delusional; I just miss talking to Anthony, so I decided to imagine the conversations we might have….

Me: It was our 25th wedding anniversary last month.

Anthony: I know, Jules, I know.

Me: I went to a grief workshop that night and told the others that it was our 25th wedding anniversary and J (remember J?) congratulated me/us.

Anthony: J? The fair-haired woman?

Me: Oh, sorry, Ants, I forgot that she only met you after you were dead. J is/was so kind and I am amazed that your funeral parlour hosts such wonderful workshops for people like me, who are struggling with their grief.

Anthony: Nothing like this was in my mind, Jules, when we got married. My only hesitation was due to the age gap; I didn’t know I was going to get sick and old at the same time.

Me: I didn’t know either, Ants. I was prepared for you getting old before me but I wasn’t prepared for all of your illnesses.

Anthony: Sorry, Jules.

Me: Not your fault, Ants. Somebody said to me the other day that it must be a relief that you died and I felt as if I had been punched. It was a well-meaning comment but it made me think about how much the fact that you had Dementia precluded people from visiting because they were scared.

Anthony: You think too much, Jules. Don’t worry about any of that because I’m fine now.

Me: I’m not.

Anthony: I miss you too, Jules.

Me: I want you back, Ants. I miss you so much that my brain is all foggy and unfocussed and I have never, ever felt so alone. I just want to talk to you!

Anthony: You are talking to me.

Me: So is that okay, if I keep talking to you?

Anthony: Of course!

Me: Yeah, but this is just me pretending to talk to you, Ants. I have to eventually get used to the reality that you are dead. I’m just as crazy about you now as I was when I was 18, but you’re gone!

Anthony: I’m not gone or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Me: So where are you?

Anthony: I don’t honestly know….

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Imagined conversation 20

Anthony: Who are all of these men you keep thinking about?

Me: Will you please STOP reading my mind like that; it’s so disconcerting!

Anthony: Well, who are they?

Me: If you can read my mind, surely you know who they are.

Anthony: But I want to hear it from you, Jules.

Me: Okay, they are just a bunch of CEOs, film executives, producers and….

Anthony: I don’t like it.

Me: What? I thought you’d be proud of me!

Anthony: [potent silence]

Me: Oh. My. God. Are you actually jealous? I can’t believe it. Yes, you are jealous, aren’t you!

Anthony: Well I am a bit, actually. I don’t want you to want them to like you; it doesn’t feel right.

Me: Ants, there is absolutely nothing romantic going on, I can assure you. It’s you I want them to like, not me!

Anthony: That’s good then.

Me: So are we clear now?

Anthony: Sorry, Jules. I just don’t want to lose you.

Me: You couldn’t lose me even if you wanted to, Ants.

Anthony: So what do all of those guys think of me?

Me: They think you are wonderful, Ants – absolutely wonderful! Star material!

Anthony: You are so full of BS Jules.

Me: I’m meeting one of them tonight for cocktails because….

Anthony: For God’s sake, Jules – don’t do anything stupid.

Me: Gotcha!

 

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Imagined conversation 19

Me: Ants, you won’t believe it!

Anthony: Try me.

Me: It’s a bit of a long story and I don’t know where to start and I am so excited!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: What?

Anthony: I have all the time in the world.

Me: Well I got short-listed for a group that got to talk to film industry professionals and tomorrow I get to pitch my idea about how I coped with the dementia stuff.

Anthony: What dementia stuff?

Me: Whoops! Okay, well your dementia stuff. Okay so now that you’re in heaven or wherever the hell you are, do you remember having dementia?

Anthony: What a lot of rubbish, Jules. Of course I didn’t have dementia.

Me: Yes, you did actually.

Anthony: No, I didn’t.

Me: You just didn’t know you had it and I never told you.

Anthony: You really are a whimsical creature aren’t you, Jules.

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