jmgoyder

wings and things

Imagined conversation 60

Anthony: I thought we weren’t going to have these talks any more.

Me: You sound hurt.

Anthony: Not hurt exactly, more nonplussed.

Me: It is all the details of death that prevent any finality and, yeah, that dreadful word, closure.

Anthony: Like what?

Me: Like the stupid Probate thing – registering – via our lawyer, your Will to the Supreme Court – to prove that I am your beneficiary, executor, wife etc.

Anthony: So how are your inherited paddocks?

Me: Oh, swimmingly, Ants – the rain has been relentless! Anyway, I need some photo ID of you for this probate process and all I can find is a very scary portrait of you on an out-dated passport.

Anthony: Why is it scary?

Me: You look like a thug!

Anthony: So what happens next?

Me: Apparently, once we get past this probate thing, I will become officially entitled to everything – the house, land, your shares, your holiday house in Bermuda – everything!

Anthony: I thought you thought sarcasm was the lowest form of wit, Jules.

Me: And I thought death was simple, Ants. How could I have possibly anticipated the amount of red tape that would surround your death, or the length of time if would take for this probate thing?

Anthony: I am so sorry, Jules!

Me: Why? Not your fault but I tell you what, Ants, I am getting things clearly written and legal-easy for Ming in case I die sooner rather than later. You never know.

Anthony: You never know what is around the corner.

Me: You used to say that to me all the time in a funny way!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Yes, oh wise one?

Anthony: Tell Ming that it is all going to be splendid.

Me: Okay. I will. And if it is all right with you, I would like to continue these conversations every now and then, for awhile.

Anthony: Good idea and I am relieved..

Me: Me too, Ants. I love you so much!

Anthony: And the whole of Heaven heaves for you too, Jules.

Me: Bleah!

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Photo taken before Ants got really sick – maybe 2007?

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Thank you, Mother, for this wonderful poem

THE GIFT OF GRIEF.
She scoops it up
Cupped in her hands
And lifted high
Like incense.
It spirals gently up and up.
Her nostrils flare
The smell of driftwood.
Held heavy in her palms
But light as air.
His face appears
And disappears
Like fire flame images
To warm her heart.
He’s here
And There
Forever.
This is Gift.

With love from Mother in August 2018.

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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 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!

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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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Imagined conversation 51

Anthony: Didn’t you already write our 51st imagined conversation?

Me: Wow, that’s impressive, Ants; your memory is improving!
Anthony: So why are you rewriting it?
Me: Because I can. Also, my mother reminded me that we’d already had a conversation about the headstone.
Anthony: Yes, you do have a tendency to repeat yourself. Your mother is correct.
Me: That is pretty rich from someone who thrived on repetition for all of those years of dementia, or pretend dementia (I was never sure).
Anthony: But why the photo of you as a child?
Me: To represent lost innocence – the child who didn’t have any idea what was in store for her.
Anthony: You make it sound ominous.
Me: Yeah, sorry, it was a ridiculously vague juxtaposition, since deleted.
Anthony: Good thing you’re not on Twitter.
Me: Don’t tell me you are!
Anthony: No, but I do read about it after Gabriel delivers The Heavenly Times every morning.
Me: Since when do you like reading, Ants? I don’t remember you ever reading anything during our whole married life! You never even read my book.
Anthony: Ah, but I am reading your blog.
Me: Why?
Anthony: Because so much of it is about me.
Me: Your vanity never ceases to astonish me.
Anthony: You should see my musculature now, Jules. A couple of women, who are newcomers here, have nearly fainted.
Me: Oh please stop, Ants. I can’t stop laughing. Do you have wings too?
Anthony: Not an option – my shoulders are too massive.
Me: Ming has inherited those shoulders and a very healthy self-image, so thanks for that.
Anthony: Men have to love themselves just in case nobody else does.
Me: Yes, I remember catching you flexing your muscles in the bathroom mirror once and getting the giggles and you said something like that. You would have been about 45. I was a bit shocked.
Anthony: You were wonderfully, easily, shocked back then, Jules – naïve creature that you were.
Me: Not naïve anymore!
Anthony: Why is this headstone decision bothering you so much, Jules?
Me: At the risk of repeating myself, it is the finality of it – choosing the stone, choosing the words, choosing the price, choosing the company who will do it, and choosing whether to make these decisions by myself, or have Ming with me, or my mother, or other various friends and family.
Anthony: Do this by yourself, Jules.
Me: But what about Ming?
Anthony: He is living, Jules! He is living. He doesn’t want to be reminded of death – my death, or anybody’s death. I saw you cry Ming into your equation of grief the other night and I saw his empathy pummeled and it has to stop.
Me: Okay.
Anthony: Jules?
Me: Yes, Anthony?
Anthony: I don’t tend to hover over the graveyard, although I did notice the camellia you placed there the other day – very sweet.
Me: I hate that word, ‘sweet’!
Anthony: That’s why I said it.
Me: So what do I say to the rumours about me not doing your headstone yet?
Anthony: Nothing. Say nothing. Do nothing. Silence is golden.
Me: I guess you know now.
Anthony: Know what?
Me: How much I love your ferocious wonderfulness.

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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 46

Anthony: Now what?

Me: Haha – I knew you’d say that. Don’t tell me, let me guess – you are playing chess with Elvis.

Anthony: Just a minute, it’s my move … okay, what’s up?

Me: What did you mean, yesterday, when you said there was no hurry?

Anthony: Generally speaking, Jules, you tend to be in a hurry to get nowhere.

Me: What do you mean?

Anthony: I know about google now, Jules.

Me: So?

Anthony: I noticed that you looked for “ways to fast-track grief”.

Me: Oh, how embarrassing. Sorry, Ants – it was nothing against you. I was just trying to figure out how to feel better faster. I am so sick of the sadness. I am so sick of my sad self!

Anthony: You know how you used to put that funeral photo of me in your back pocket?

Me: Yes? I haven’t done that for ages.

Anthony: That’s what you do with the grief, Jules – you put it in your back pocket, all cosy and warm against your bum – then you live.

Me: I keep seeing you everywhere – not like a ghost or anything, just people who remind me of you.

Anthony: Elvis gets that too.

Me: Yeah, I know – someone just saw him in Passadena, apparently. Are you really playing chess with him or are you just kidding? I never know with you.

Anthony: Struth!

Me: I want you back, Ants.

Anthony: I want you back too, Jules.

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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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