jmgoyder

wings and things

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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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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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 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 53

Me: I did it!

Anthony: You did what?

Me: I met with a monument person at the cemetery and she was so lovely!

Anthony: But I thought you and Ming weren’t going to bother.

Me: Yeah, but I was seduced by the ruby red granite and the idea of white lettering – all guaranteed for at least five years. Also, if I die, Ming can get the message altered quite easily to include me too, even if I am cremated.

Anthony: This sounds quite complicated, Jules. How much is this going to cost?

Me: It depends on the wording: if I just put “Anthony Goyder 1936-2017” it will be relatively cheap because you pay per each letter.

Anthony: Just do that then, Jules.

Me: No way, Ants! I am going to write our story on your tombstone.

Anthony: Please, Jules, don’t!

Me: I was just kidding, Ants! Now that you are dead, there is no hurry for anything.

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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 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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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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