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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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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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 58

Me: I had no idea, until now, as the anniversary of your death approaches, that my grief would turn into anxiety.

Anthony: It happened on New Years day, remember?

Me: Yes, but I got over that quite quickly with the help of some anti-anxiety medication prescribed by the doctor. So I saw him again today and he understood.

Anthony: How is he?

Me: He is fine, Ants, but I am talking about me here. Me!

Anthony: Sorry, Jules. How are you?

Me: Anxious, Ants! Waking up in the early hours with a racing heart, sweaty forehead and an irrational terror of the sun rising just in case I cannot face the ordinariness of the day, the emails I have to answer, my volunteering commitments, social arrangements, family get-togethers. I enjoy all of these things immensely but then the anxiety hits, and it hits hard, and renders me sort of helpless.

Anthony: What can I do?

Me: You are already doing it, just like you did when you were still alive. If I had a problem, at work, with Ming, with a family/friend dispute, and even with the nursing home, you would listen and enfold my shaking hands into your big warm/cold hands and there was always a semblance of peace. That’s not possible now.

Anthony: Why not?

Me: Because you are dead, Ants, and I am having a lot of trouble accepting that it is nearly a year since you died and my missing you is probably ridiculous as you were an old man anyway. I should be more accepting of what was inevitable but I still struggle.

Anthony: I don’t appreciate you calling me an old man, Jules.

Me: Well I don’t appreciate you dying so fast, Ants. I have nightmares about that.

Anthony: I am never cold anymore.

Me: So?

Anthony: You were always so worried about me being cold in the nursing home. I am never cold now and never too warm either. I am in perfect conditions.

Me: I miss everything about you – your mad humour, your adoration of Ming, your sense of irony but I guess I mostly miss how much you absolutely adored me.

Anthony: But I do still adore you, Jules! Will that stop the anxiety?

Me: Yes, I think so, Ants, but these are imagined conversations; they are not real.

Anthony: This is real, Jules.21100168_1096504780485218_1332072107_n

 

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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 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 44

Me: Life is so complicated, isn’t it.

Anthony: Spot on, Jules, you got that right.

Me: And people are so complicated, aren’t they.

Anthony: Yes, they are, Jules.

Me: I have just realised why our conversations with each other, over all of the years we have known each other, have been so easy.

Anthony: And your conclusion?

Me: Well you do this very clever [devious] thing where you affirm me even when you disagree with me.

Anthony: I can read bracketed information, Jules.

Me: Whoops, I forgot about all of your omnis.

Anthony: Having an argument with you, Jules, was like being in a hurricane.

Me: Sorry, Ants. At least we didn’t do it often.

Anthony: But you were right. Always.

Me: I know, Ants, but I didn’t know you knew that!

Anthony: I wasn’t allowed in through the Heavenly gates until I did the Hindsight test.

Me: OMG that sounds horrible.

Anthony: The facilitators were very understanding.

Me: What did they say? I’m curious.

Anthony: They told me that I had nearly left it too late to propose marriage to you.

Me: Really? What else did they say?

Anthony: That I’d been an idiot not to have proposed earlier….

Me: And?

Anthony: Everything about everything about the 40 years I have known you, Jules, is the way it was always supposed to be.

Me: No, I don’t believe in that fate stuff, Ants – I much prefer the idea of contingency. Anyway, forget all that philosophical stuff. Where are you?

Anthony: I’m in Heaven.

Me: But where is that?

Anthony: I don’t know but wherever it is, it’s great.

Me: These imagined conversations with you are so weird. I recognise that what I am doing is a sort of therapeutic writing exercise but, at the same time, it feels organic and I only chat with you like this when I feel like it.

Anthony: Jules, STOP worrying about what people might think.

Me: Okay.

Anthony: And let’s keep talking like this, as much or as little as you want. I am very happily dead now, Jules, so concentrate your fantastic love on the Ming.

Me: Okay.

Anthony: Just a second: Plato and Soc. are both telling me different things about you.

Me: Is Foucault there too?

Anthony: Sorry, Jules – they’re all in the middle of a game of chess, but Plato just mentioned something about love being a kind of madness that is heavenly. Does that make sense?

Me: I know the quote, Ants! “The madness of love is the greatest of heaven’s blessings” Plato. Did he really say this?

Anthony: He is nodding yes.

Me: This is like some sort of kindergarten ‘let’s pretend’ game, Ants, but it is so much fun! I love and miss you with all of my poor, exhausted, grief-stricken heart.

Anthony: Get a life, Jules.

Me: What?

Anthony: I’m dead. Accept it. Move on.

Me: I can’t believe that you have just said what all of those horrible, wonderful idiots say: move on.

Anthony: They’re not idiots, Jules.23602295_1267621250049965_1843189380_n

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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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