jmgoyder

wings and things

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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Imagined conversation 38

Me: Do you remember that trip to Balingup?

Anthony: And the oysters?

Me: Yes.

Anthony: I’ll never forget it.

Me: I’ll never forget it either. You were mobile and you easily walked out of the nursing home, and we easily got you into the car, and I easily drove you back through time to the place of your childhood.

Anthony: And the old pub, all done up.

Me: And it was a beautiful day.

Anthony: You were in a hurry.

Me: Yeah, but only because if I didn’t get you there soon enough – at least by noon – the timing might not work, the pills might not kick in, you might get that nervous constipation thing, or worse….

Anthony: Worse?

Me: The opposite.

Anthony: Oh you mean my penchant for pooing unexpectedly?

Me: Yeah, that and the whole panic thing, for me, and Ming too. You know like that time in the restaurant where Ming had to take you to the toilet and figure it out, and that other time – OMG – after the funeral when your nephew had to figure it out….

Anthony: Sorry about that, Jules. We didn’t know about adult nappies then did we – wonderful invention.

Me: I was always amazed by your lack of embarrassment – like you just took it all in your stride!

Anthony: What else could I do? My bowels stopped belonging to me.

Me: You see, that’s one of the things I most admire about you – the way you accepted it all. I would be dying of embarrassment for you and yet you’d always be so sort of ….

Anthony: Philosophical?

Me: Yes!

Anthony: And the point of this conversation is…?

Me: Oh, sorry, our back to Balingup outing. So it was only an hour’s drive but you began to visibly falter about ten minutes before I parked the car at the pub so I was doubtful as to whether I’d be able to get you out of the car and into the restaurant.

Anthony: You were so weak.

Me: What do you mean I was so weak? You were like a dead weight! I couldn’t even move you enough to get the stupid seat-belt off, and when I finally did, I couldn’t get your legs around enough to get you even close to getting out of the car, and when I finally did, I couldn’t get you to stand up, even with the walker.

Anthony: I kept wondering why you couldn’t do it.

Me: How could you not know how bloody heavy you were?

Anthony: Because I didn’t feel heavy to me? I was skinny.

Me: Argh, that again – always so proud of your washboards? You were teensy in the end – diminished!

Anthony: You want to say “pathetic” don’t you.

Me: What?

Anthony: I was pathetic. I know that now.

Me: Okay, you were pathetic, yes, but you were also heroic, and I wanted to take you to Balingup for lunch and such a simple thing became a kind of nightmare. When I couldn’t even get you out of the car, I rushed in to see if they might bring the food out to us and they said yes! And they even had oysters – fresh oysters – and I ordered two dozen.

Anthony: An unexpected delight….

Me: And you vacuumed down the first dozen so I rushed back in to ask for another dozen and they got served to the car!

Anthony: You’re a champion, Jules.

Me: Seeing you eat those oysters, and not having a toilet issue, equalled pure joy, Ants. And then, all of a sudden, it became urgent to get you back to the nursing home and all you wanted to do was stay in Balingup.

Anthony: I’ve never seen that trip back from your perspective until now.

Me: I was freaking out because you were slumping so badly and I was worried we’d overdone it. Plus how the hell was I going to get you out of the car and back into the nursing home when you were almost comatose on the way back?

Anthony: But you did it – we did it.

Me: Yes but at the time all I wanted to do was get away from you and the nursing home and get home and just be by myself, away from the horror of your incapacity, away from the bittersweet day, away from the overwhelming love-guilt I had for you.

Anthony: My memory is different; it was a wonderful day.

Me: Yes but it was also final, Ants.

Anthony: How so?

Me: Well, I didn’t know it then but it was the last time I ever took you out and I am so so sorry for this.

Anthony: Please don’t cry, Jules. I wouldn’t have bothered to take me out in the first place.

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Imagined conversation 36

Me: Your headstone has become a real headache.

Anthony: How so?

Me: Well, for me, it has been this final thing to do – sort of looming but at the same time something that might, strangely, be enjoyable, like choosing what colour of what stone, what words and….

Anthony: So what’s the problem?

Me: On the surface of things, it’s that I can’t choose the right monument. I mean I know that you wouldn’t have wanted anything ostentatious or expensive but at the same time I can’t just leave that cross the funeral parlour gave us.

Anthony: Why not?

Me: Well because it looked all shiny and lovely at the burial. Now it’s all faded and has probably fallen over in the last storm. Plus the dirt on your grave still hasn’t gone down so I’m not sure how placing the headstone works. Every time I start the conversation with the various headstone people, I stop again. I choose the colour of the granite, I choose the words with Ming, I get various quotes, and then I baulk, and that horrible of sensation of fear comes back

Anthony: But, Jules, it doesn’t matter – none of that matters. You matter, and Ming matters. I’m gone.

Me: So who am I talking to then?

Anthony: You are talking to an imagined me – you already know that.

Me: So what do I do about your headstone? People are starting to wonder.

Anthony: So let them wonder!

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Me: I have it in my mind and heart that placing the headstone should be on August 23, the anniversary of your death. That way I don’t have to panic about doing it right now and that way I can choose more sensibly, without all of this emotion.

Anthony: Wise decision, Jules.

Me: I wish you were here to help me with all of this, Ants.

Anthony: So do I.

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Imagined conversation 34

Me: I failed the motorbike test yesterday.

Anthony: It’s okay, Jules. You can do it again.

Me: There is something fundamentally wrong with my brain when it comes to U-turns, Ants. The fear is like some sort of weird vice. Plus I am too fast – it’s like I am trying to rush into succeeding but I can’t help it!

Anthony: Well, you were always knee-jerk, Jules.

Me: That’s not fair, Ants! I don’t mean to be like that – I really am trying my best here.

Anthony: So why did the guy who took you for the test ask if you were part of the Peter Brock family?

Me: Because he was being sarcastic!

Anthony: Why are you in such a rush, Jules?

Me: I feel sort of desperate….

Anthony: Desperate for what?

Me: Something to do with your motorbikes maybe? Trying to keep up? Wanting to make you proud?

Anthony: I am already proud and always was.

Me: Of what?

Anthony: You!

Me: I wanted to ride a scooter again, reclaim my youth, honour your motorbike days, go fast fearlessly.

Anthony: Jules, you really need to bring your decades up to speed and stop living in the past. Why are you in such a hurry all the time?

Me: I don’t know. I just want to get everything over with. Or begin something new? Make myself into a new person? Make you proud? Be brave?

Anthony: Just STOP.

Me: Stop what?

Anthony: Everything, Jules.

Me: I can’t stop, Ants!

Anthony: You are not going to find me in those scooter wheels, Jules.

Me: Why?

Anthony: I was a Guzzi guy, remember?

Me: I am so pathetic.

Anthony: Not at all, Jules. D. and I just think it’s best if you stick to the car.

Me: Okay, Ants. I thought I was okay after failing the motorbike licence test but when I got home I just cried and cried and cried.

Anthony: Give it up, Jules.

Me: But I hate giving up, Ants!

Anthony: It takes a lot of courage to give up when you know that going on is futile.

Me: In that case, I give up!

 

 

 

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