jmgoyder

wings and things

A note to our son, Ming, on the second anniversary of Anthony’s death

Thanks Ming (Menzies Goyder) for always reminding me of your dad, Anthony. You have the same larger-than-life presence, the same laugh, the same booming voice, the same gregariousness. The other day, when you sat in your car for ages before coming in, it reminded me of how Ants used to do the same thing and it used to drive me mad! Your love of loud music, dancing, your easy-going nature, and your love of me … the saddest thing for me is that you never really knew Anthony the way he was because he began to get so sick when you were just a baby – one disease after another. In a few hours it will be the second anniversary of his death. Thank you for being with me that night and thank you for your support ever since. I am choosing to spend today alone because the memory of that night, when Ants pushed my hand out of his and we went outside and then, five minutes later, he died, still haunts me. You have been my rock (well, mostly!) and not only do I love you for being you, but I also love you for being so much like Anthony. Best son anyone could wish for. And you gave him such joy!37595561_1321704467965247_8882265699846717440_n

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August preparations: Imagined conversation 82

Me: Hi Ants.

Anthony: That wasn’t a very enthusiastic ‘hi’, Jules.

Me: I am selling the farm and I am worried that this will hurt you.

Anthony: I’m already dead so nothing can hurt me.

Me: You’re not here, Ming’s moved out, the maintenance is getting ridiculous, and I guess the bottom line is I have fallen out of love with this beautiful place and its quaint old, ailing house.

Anthony: Jules, you do whatever you want and trust your instincts. I left the farm to you so it is your decision.

Me: Thanks Ants. I miss you so much….IMG_4201

Anthony: I will applaud you, whatever you decide, Jules.

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Imagined conversation 81

Me: Well, here we are, Ants. This is the last of our public conversations.

Anthony: Has it helped?

Me: Yes, it has helped me to talk to you better in my head; it has helped me to see how grief can be a gift (my mother said that); and it has helped me to be grateful for what we had rather than dwelling on what we lost when you died.

Anthony: You are a champion, Jules.

Me: Yes, I know.

Anthony: So what are you going to do now?

Me: I am going to put our 81 imagined conversations into book form and look for a publisher, Ants. It makes sense to stop at 81 because you will never be 82.

Anthony: So morbid!

Me: Not at all!

Anthony: You were the best thing, most joyful and interesting person, to ever come into my life, Jules.

Me: And you were/are the absolute love of my life, Ants. And then there was the gift of Ming!

Anthony: How is that young chap – my son?

Me: Our son!

Anthony: Our son! Okay!

Me: He is a weird hybrid of you and me – fascinating!

Anthony: Apart from you, Jules, that boy/man was the best thing that ever happened for me and I am so proud of him.

Me: Me too, Ants.37595561_1321704467965247_8882265699846717440_n

Note: Unblogging for the time being … thanks to my friends/bloggers for your grace x

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The ungiven gift

You were always going to buy me one
always going to
going to….
You wanted to so much so that
every Christmas
and Mothers day
and all of my birthdays
I held a little less hope
and was embarrassed to have hoped
for such an extravagance.
Unnecessary
ridiculous
until it became a whimsical joke between us
until you forgot
or remembered
and worried about the expense
then felt bad
that you had let me down somehow
until I told you that it didn’t matter
and as your memory gradually splintered
it didn’t matter anyway.

For years I forgot all about
this beautiful ungiven gift
until one day, when you were particularly worried about how much money we had in the bank,

I told you a pure white lie.

I wanted to alleviate your confused anxiety
so I pretended that we had won a lot of money on lotto
and the long-ago, work-weary farmer in you
beamed with delight and relief.

It was a brilliant lie and the first of many
that seemed to electrify your skinny brain cells,
unchoke and nourish them
and remind you of the ungiven gift.

Bring me a catalogue so I can choose one for you, you said.
Okay, I said.
But of course we both forgot all about it.

I lied when I said I would be back in half an hour.
I lied when I said that the overcooked scrambled egg you got for dinner
was crayfish.
I lied when I said that your dead mother was alive and well and cooking a roast for us.
I lied when I said you were getting better every day.
And you believed me
because you trusted me more than anyone in the world.

And the lies of golden silence also became the norm
when, on your 80th birthday,
you thought you had just turned 50,
when, having forgotten how to walk,
you told me you had just been on a 20 kilometre run,
when, thinking our adult son was still a toddler you could see playing with his train tracks in the corner of your room,
I nodded in agreement
and shared your delight.

One day, not long before you forgot how to speak,
you reminded me about the ungiven gift.
It was just after I had given you my daily reassurance about our bank balance
to which I always added at least one zero.
Have you found one you like? you asked.
Not yet, I said, squeezing your big, gnarled hand.
But of course we both forgot all about it.

Just before the first Christmas,
I was wandering through a shopping mall
not sure what I was looking for
not looking for anything
my heart pumping its new tune of panic
my eyes blurry with the constant hay-fever I excused them with
(such a seasoned liar!)
its shimmer nevertheless caught my attention.

I stopped in my tracks and stared at it
wiped my eyes on my sleeve
stared again
felt the ghost of your smile touch my lips

….and I somehow knew.

Make sure it is authentic, and ask for a discount, you whispered
My fingers are too short, I whispered back.
Try it on.

With a calm, unfamiliar certainty
I walked into the shop
and tried it on.
A gift from my husband, I told the shop assistant proudly, as she gift-wrapped it.
You must have a wonderful husband, she said.
I do.

On that first Christmas day
I opened your gift by myself and put it on
then I took it off and put it back into its little box.
I didn’t tell anybody about it
because I wanted it to be a secret treasure just between us.

And all these long months later – now, almost two years
I just take it out and wear it when I am by myself
I don’t know why that is,
it just is.

The ungiven gift
given
of an emerald ring.

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Imagined conversation 79: Christmas eve 2018

Me: If you were here at home, back in time, Ants, we would have been sneaking bits of the Christmas ham and drinking champagne, then you would have eventually gone to bed and I would stay up for hours, wrapping presents to put into his pillow-case, leaving the empty pillowcase on the end of his bed and secretly filling the identical pillow-case (blue) with as many presents as I could fit into it! You thought I was extravagant but I was just doing what my parents did and, anyway, it was Ming, our only child; I wanted to give him the world + lego.

Anthony: It is quite common for middle-aged women to feel a bit lost when their children grow up.

Me: Straight to the point as usual, Ants – I miss you.

Anthony: I miss you too, Jules, but I mostly miss seeing Ming growing into a man of my calibre.

Me: Your arrogance is breathtaking, Ants!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Ants?

Anthony: I am with you.

Me: Okay.

 

 

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Imagined conversation 78

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Me: I miss you so much, Ants – sometimes it is like this silent, piercing, explosive shriek inside me and I can hardly bear the physical palpitating pain of it.

Anthony: Pull yourself together, Jules – you can do it.

Me: All this other wonderful stuff is happening but the joy I should be feeling is clouded over a bit by grief; it has now been 455 days since you died.

Anthony: 456 days to be exact.

Me: Are you kidding? Is there a time difference in Heaven?

Anthony: We do live in Western Australia, Jules.

Me: Was that a deliberate faux pas, Ants? You don’t live here anymore.

Anthony: I am in the air around the Aga.

Me: Oh shut up! Now I know you are kidding around and I guess that is what is the most painful thing for me – you had had so many TIAs but you always woke up again. When you did die, I thought for a moment that you just might be pretending.

Anthony: I am so sorry, Jules.

Me: Yeah, you did do the death thing brutally fast. I am glad for you but even after all of these long, longing, days, I am still a bit shocked at how fast I lost you.

Anthony: I miss you too, my beautiful girl.

Me: I will tell you more about your headstone tomorrow; it is absolutely perfect!

Anthony: I love you, Jules.

 

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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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