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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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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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.

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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.

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A visit to my psychologist: Imagined conversation 64

Anthony: Two conversations in one day. I am honoured!

Me: I went to see my psychologist, Daniella, today.

Anthony: Why do you need to see a psychologist?

Me: Let me think … well it just might be that the anniversary of your death is looming and glooming me – duhhh.

Anthony: Oh, that.

Me: I even cried a bit at the start of the session. I try not to do this usually but when she asked what was wrong I just said August, and then she realised. She was just as amazed as I am that it is nearly a year since you died.

Anthony: Daniella seems a benevolent soul.

Me: Bloody hell – I have never heard you say anything like that before!

Anthony: After death comes wisdom.

Me: Really?

Anthony: You will find a reference to this in the Song of Solomon.

Me: Okay, I get it now. You are trying to make me laugh. Bravo – you have succeeded!

Anthony: So what did Daniella say?

Me: To give myself a break, to stop berating myself for this and that, to breathe. She even indicated that my vibes were making her breathless. I told her that I had this constant mantra in my head of get over it, get over it, GET OVER IT, JULIE, since August 1st.

Anthony: And?

Me: Well then I blabbed on about how grateful I was for our rather unique relationship, our against-multiple-odds love story, Boney M, and my recurrent dream in which I take you from the nursing home to a party, forget your meds and you miraculously stand up out of the wheelchair and begin dancing.

Anthony: That dream has actually come true, Jules.

Me: Yes, that is what Daniella said! Do you still do your jumping up and down on-the-spot dance moves? You do realise, I hope, that the cracks in the wall of the living room are probably due to that dancing phase of yours.

Anthony: Sorry.

Me: I so wish Ming had known you back then and I told Daniella that too. I think that makes me sadder than anything else in the wake of your death; your beautiful son, who is so much like you in so many ways, never knew the ultra-lively man I fell for.

Anthony: Why have you put such a dreadful photo of me here?

Me: Because it was just before the nursing home days and Peter visited you once a week after that – one of your many wonderful nephews. His visits were like gold – remember?

Anthony: Yes.

Me: So Daniella suggested focussing on all of the good stuff, the funny stories, the great memories; she even suggested turning some of the sad bits of our story into something comical. Ingenious!

 

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Having a laugh in the midst of grief: Imagined conversation 62

Anthony: I really liked what you wrote yesterday.

Me: Why, thank you, kind sir!

Anthony: The Boney M clip was wonderful.

Me: I knew you would appreciate that. I wish now that I had thought to play it to you in the nursing home. Oh well – the benefit of hindsight and all that.

Anthony: Yes, I did get a little tired of The Office, especially the American version.

Me: I know. Sorry about that but I loved it and it was a brilliant way of passing the hours in the nursing home. I would give anything now to be sitting next to you, holding your hand while you dozed, or stared, mystified, at a millionth episode of The Office, eating olives and sipping wine on a sunny Sunday like today. Or else, chatting with my mother as she did her hairpin lace, both of us on either side of you, our chatter inevitably putting you to sleep.

Anthony: She really did love me, that mother of yours, even though I broke your heart when you were still just a kid of 18. And then broke it again.

Me: Again?

Anthony: By dying.

Me: Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, she really did love you. To begin with, no. I am quite sure both of my parents were appalled that their innocent, teenage daughter had fallen for a middle-aged man who was at the opposite end of the spectrum of their belief system, Christianity. If I recall correctly, you were a self-declared atheist and, as a rather evangelical adolescent, I convinced you that an agnostic stance might be safer. We did have some rather heated theological discussions.

Anthony: Yes, I slipped into Heaven via the back door.

Me: What?

Anthony: Just kidding, Jules!

Me: One of things that most fascinates me about grief is the fact that it is, actually, really fascinating. I can watch that Boney M clip and cry and laugh in the same moment; I can remember the first moment I saw you and the last moment I saw you as if 40 years of knowing each other is a single, resonating clash of unexpected harmony. Now that you have been dead for nearly a year, I love you just as much as I did when you were still alive.

Anthony: I have never quite understood how your mind works, Jules, but if it is of any comfort, I miss you too.

Me: In just a few days it will be the first anniversary of your death which is so weird because it feels like it was just the other day. I am not quite sure what I am supposed to do on this day. Do I go somewhere – away? Ming has asked me the same question – should we go out for breakfast? What do you do on a deathday? August itself has paralysed me somewhat, Ants, which I did NOT anticipate. I feel like I am at some sort of event where you have to choose between various PTSD showbags!

Anthony: I will be having a similar day, Jules. I think it would be a good idea to simply have a nap.

Me: Okay. I just want to get to September and out of August.

Anthony: Perfectly understandable, Jules; after all, I was your knight in shining armour.

Me: You were also a horribly cruel, heart-breaking bastard! Remember our first argument, underneath the clothesline just after my dad died, and I called you a selfish pig?

Anthony: Shhhh! I am in Heaven now and I do not want to jeopardise that.

Me: I am so glad that we figured out it was a family farm, financial situation and not personal. 57-year-old bachelors do not usually get married. I think the expectation was for you to leave your inheritance to either your siblings or nieces and nephews.

Anthony: Why are you bringing this up now?

Me: Because I am not afraid any more of the backlash after we announced our engagement. I was so naïve then! You were so wonderfully brave (although I did wonder why we were taking a case of champagne to accompany our engagement announcement). This is hilarious in retrospect!

Anthony: Bravo, Jules!

Me: When I look back at that scene, champagne flowing, beaming expressions on every single face, I am amazed at what happened next.

Anthony: And…?

Me: Well, the funny/paradoxical thing is I actually do not care anymore about the person who hurt you most and I wish I had developed this ability to be indifferent earlier in my life.

Anthony: Make peace, not war.

Me: I thought the saying was more like, make love, not war, via John Lennon? Your roomie?

Anthony: There is no need to stoke old coals, Jules.

Me: Why do you not want me to tell the truth, Ants?

Anthony: Because I am already dead anyway. It does not matter!

Me: Okay….

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Anthony: Have a laugh, Jules!

Me: Good idea!

 

 

 

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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.

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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!

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Photo: Courtesy of Mandy Goyder

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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.

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Imagined conversation 52

Anthony: Stop censoring yourself, Jules. You can say anything you want!

Me: That’s kind of Ming’s philosophy too. I’ll be agonising about a simple decision and he always says, “MUM! DO WHAT YOU WANT!”

Anthony: He’s right, that boy of mine.

Me: He’s pragmatic, assertive, hilarious and LOUD, just like you. Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you – he’s wearing your Omega watch now. He was never interested before but now that you are dead, it appeals to him more.

Anthony: Ah yes, 1970. That was a good year.

Me: On the back of the watch it says, “Anthony Barr Goyder 1970.” I know I was 11 at the time and living in Canada so you would have been 34. Why did you buy yourself the watch? I know, when I met you, you wore it often, and with some pride, but I never asked you about it. Why didn’t I?

Anthony: Because you weren’t interested.

Me: Sorry.

Anthony: Does it fit Ming’s wrist?

Me: It’s a tiny bit loose but wearable and I am trying not to show too much excitement about him wearing your watch in case my sentimentality puts him off.

Anthony: He adores you, Jules.

Me: He brings me back into focus always. He always knows when something is off with me and tells me that my eyes have gone dark – weird.

Anthony: You are a bit weird lately, Jules.

Me: It’s just that August is approaching, which will make it a year since you died and my sense of grief is so unpredictable. I just want it to go away; I want the grief to go away because it’s in the way. No offence, Ants.

Anthony: None taken. The thing is, Jules, the grief won’t go away.

Me: But why?

Anthony: It’s part of who you are now, apparently. Your dad gave me a cheat sheet at a recent grief counselling session so that’s how I know this.

Me: So, you guys, the dead, grieve for us, the living? No way – that is impossible!

Anthony: I kid you not, kid.

Me: Oh Ants, these imagined conversations with you have become so much fun for me, as well as poignant etc. Often, I can hear memories of your sarcastic, funny voice and your straight-up response to my dramatics. Thank you for all of these amazing memories of our real conversations; thank you for being so devoted to me when you were alive; and thank you for these incredible imagined responses from you.

Anthony: You forgot to mention my beautiful body.

Me: I cannot believe I let you say that, Ants; shut up!

Anthony: As you wish.

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