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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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 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 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 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 47

Me: Sometimes I am so full of emotion that I don’t know what the emotion is; I don’t know if it’s sorrow or joy.

Anthony: What’s brought this on?

Me: Tonight, having tea at my mother’s place, sitting between my two brothers and, earlier in the evening, playing with my little niece and nephew.

Anthony: Don’t you mean your great niece and nephew?

Me: Well, yes, technically, but I prefer to call them niece and nephew. It makes me feel less ancient, ha! Do you have to be pedantic? I’m not in the mood.

Anthony: Why are you so out of sorts, Jules?

Me: I guess I feel that my blog entries are sometimes too sad and I don’t want that. I certainly don’t want other people to be made sad by what I write and I definitely don’t want anyone to be sad for me; it’s a conundrum.

Anthony: I wish I could help.

Me: You do help – you do, Ants. Talking to you like this – these imagined conversations, this imagined you … your voice is so real.

Anthony: Your mother, your brothers and your whole family love you so much, Jules. I have never seen anything like it. Of course they worry, especially your mother and she has an uncanny intuition, I’ve noticed.

Me: But I don’t want her to worry about me; I don’t want anyone to worry about me! I’m fine!

Anthony: Months ago, Jules, you wrote about being able to be intensely happy and intensely sad in the same moment – something like that. It was profound, it was wise, and it was original. Is that what is happening now?

Me: Yes, that was an amazing realisation at the time but things change and now it’s winter.

Anthony: I thought you liked winter.

Me: This one seems to be particularly cold; it’s the first winter since you died.

Anthony: Ah, that explains a lot. You are probably experiencing an early equinox.

Me: What the hell are you talking about?

Anthony: Well it sounded good, didn’t it?

Me: Have you made friends with all of the dead scientists now too?

Anthony: You know me, Jules, I’ll talk to anyone.

Me: Argh – remember that woman in the wheelchair on our honeymoon that you tried to start a conversation with and she swivelled away and I couldn’t stop laughing at your dejection?

Anthony: Her carer deserves a medal.

Me: Oh yes! You mean the one pushing the wheelchair? She looked so miserable.

Anthony: She’s here now – the old lady.

Me: Why are you whispering?

Anthony: Because she’s just around the corner in the Horrible Suite and I’m on call.

Me: For what?

Anthony: My job is to charm her somehow. Any ideas?

Me: Okay, perhaps be a bit less pushy and loud? You and Ming don’t have much subtlety, do you.

Anthony: That’s my boy.

Me: It’s so interesting to me because I never knew you when you were the age Ming is now but he is obviously a clone of you?

Anthony: He has a lot more freedom.

Me: How’s that?

Anthony: He’s not milking the cows day in, day out, endlessly.

Me: But I thought you loved milking the cows!

Anthony: Have I cheered you up?

Me: I think so. I’m starting to remember all of these wonderful things by talking to you like this.

Anthony: At your service, my beautiful, wonderful wife.

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Imagined conversation 40

Anthony: We must stop meeting like this.

Me: Oh, very funny.

Anthony: What’s up?

Me: Well, you know how I used to always remember the anniversary of my dad’s death?

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Anthony: I remember your tears, I remember you always rang your mother, and I remember you being in a filthy mood and I didn’t know what was wrong….

Me: ….and then I’d tell you and you would be so compassionate and beautiful and nonplussed.

Anthony: Why have you always remembered June 9, your father’s deathday, and not his birthday?

Me: Maybe I’m morbid. Anyway, why are you cross-examining me?

Anthony: Morbid curiosity? By the way, his birthday is in April and I know this for a fact.

Me: Okay, so what date exactly? I’m ahead of you because I just messaged my Meg.

Anthony: Just a moment, Jules. I need to talk to the man himself.

Me: This is ridiculous, Ants! How am I expected to believe that you, John Wayne, and now my dad, Brinsley Lane, are all in cahoots?

Anthony: We all like chess?

Me: Well, I know my dad liked chess but you never even touched that extremely expensive marble chess set I gave you on your birthday in….

Anthony: Jules?

Me: What now?

Anthony: Dairy farmers don’t play chess.

Me: Oh.

Anthony: Brin’s  birthday was the 10th of April. Four days ago marks the 40th anniversary of his sudden death of a heart attack at the age of 57 when he reluctantly left your mother a young widow, and you teenage kids without a dad.

Me: How is he, Ants?

Anthony: Put it this way, Jules; I thought I loved you but this guy, Brin, your dad, loves you more.

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