jmgoyder

wings and things

Imagined conversation 39

Anthony: Howdy!

Me: ‘Howdy’?

Anthony: Too much time with John Wayne, I guess.

Me: Always joking, never serious, my husband, the life of the party.

Anthony: You sound angry, Jules.

Me: I am angry, Ants!

Anthony: Not my problem.

Me: What do you mean, not your problem? You died! OMG you are just as impossible as you were when you were alive!

Anthony: Is this about Ming?

Me: No! Well, yes! Okay, maybe. He doesn’t remember you being a conventional dad. Actually, he doesn’t remember you being a dad at all and I have to show him photos to prove to him that you were a wonderful dad before you got sick.

Anthony: Is that all?

Me: What do you mean, ‘is that all?’ Ming is affected, Ants!

Anthony: You worry too much, Jules. Ming is a fine, strapping, slightly taller version of me.

Me: Actually, he is quite a lot taller than you, Ants.

Anthony: All-right, I’ll concede that.

Me: I was just telling him about how much you loved him and how you use to say “My Boy” and I made myself cry. Ridiculous!

Anthony: Not ridiculous at all, Jules. I am a force to be reckoned with.

Me: I guess I am in the reckoning-with phase of grief then?

Anthony: No, Jules! You aren’t in any phase – you are just you and everything about you- being-you is absolutely perfect.

Me: I miss you so much; it’s a physical pain in my stomach.

Anthony: How’s my boy? How is Ming?

Me: Don’t you care about my stomach?

Anthony: Yes, but how is Ming?

Me: I think he might be in love.

Anthony: Just a sec. – talking to Wayney.

Me: Wayney?

Anthony: John Wayne.

Me (sigh): Okay, so what does he suggest?

Anthony: Eat more greens.IMG_0008

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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 37

Me: Well, you’ll be glad to know that this third bout of anxiety is nearly over. I’m going to tell you about it here because I don’t want to forget what it’s like.

Anthony: Why would you want to remember it?

Me: So I recognise it when it begins to happen rather than being all-consumed by the time I see a doctor.

Anthony: Is it my fault?

Me: Yes and no. It’s because I miss you so much but it doesn’t feel like that at all. It feels like a sense of urgency – constant and about everything – an urgency to clean the house, to socialise, to write the script, to get the motorbike licence, to train Pip as a therapy dog, to do my volunteer visits. Everything becomes such a matter of urgency that I become incapable of doing anything,

Anthony: I thought that was depression.

Me: This is on top of that – this is extreme anxiety, the kind that makes your heart beat super fast and your hands shake and fills you with a kind of flitter-flutter of frenetic energy that beats around inside you but renders you immobile. It’s the kind of fear where adrenaline doesn’t kick in so it’s implosive.

Anthony: So did you get some pills?

Me: Yes.

Anthony: And….?

Me: And now I can function again, I can appear to be okay and I can breathe properly. The good thing is I know I won’t need the pills for long, judging from the last two experiences.

Anthony: Well, take the pills as long as you like, Jules. Just take a break from all of those things you think you should be doing and just be.

Me: Yes I think that’s the key – just being. Without the mindrush. Remember how I used to confide in you about these issues?

Anthony: Yes, I married a complicated woman.

Me: Ha! And you are so uncomplicated. Even when you were so ill and incapacitated, you were like an anchor, a safe place, a solid certainty. Now that you’re dead, I sometimes flounder.

Anthony: You’ll find your feet again, Jules. You always do.

Me: I understand other people’s grief so much better now, Ants, especially the fear thing.

Anthony: Maybe there’s something you don’t realise, Jules.

Me: And what’s that, oh wise one?

Anthony: I miss you too.

 

 

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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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Imagined conversation 33

Me: I have another little surprise for you.

Anthony: Kill me softly.

Me: You really need to see the sarcasm therapist again. Anyway, one of my blog friends is an artist and she’s agreed to work with me on a book of our dialogues.

Anthony: She must be mad!

Me: No, she is really sane and she ‘gets’ you. She has already sent me examples of how she might draw you. And me. Our interactions. Before and after. And it’s perfect.

Anthony: Before and after what?

Me: Your death. Oh and by the way can you please let Marion know that he would be great for the role but I need actors who are actually still living.

Anthony: Noted.

Me: I think I have entered a new phase.

Anthony: Surprise me.

Me: You are dead and I am just conjuring you with these imagined conversations.

Anthony: I’m still with you, Jules.

Me: In my memory, in my consciousness, yeah, but you’re also gone and I am so sick of feeling so sad.

Anthony: So don’t feel sad.

Me: How?

Anthony: Write.

 

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Imagined conversation 32

Me: Ants, guess what? I found out about this film writing competition yesterday that had a deadline of midnight last night so I worked all day on my submission – it only had to be a few pages of script, with a synopsis and….

Anthony: Steady on, Jules….

Me: I only had five pages to write the script of your life and death, our love story, and to convey what dementia is like.

Anthony: Let me guess. Am I your dementia figurine?

Me: Stop it! This is important. If I am successful I’ll get to work with professional scriptwriters and get flown to Sydney. It could be such a great opportunity to get my message out there.

Anthony: Your message?

Me: About how dementia doesn’t have to be this terrifying, tragic thing – that it is possible to have fun with dementia. Oh, I don’t know, Ants – I’m still figuring it out.

Anthony: Are you going to admit that you lied to me about me having it – dementia?

Me: I did NOT lie to you, Ants – I just didn’t tell you.

Anthony: Well I think that’s pertinent.

Me: Oh, okay, thanks!

Anthony [talking to someone else]: Yes, she gets like this sometimes.

Me: I heard that!

Anthony: Sorry, Jules, just having a chat with Saint Somebody about your script. She thinks it’s a very good start.

Me: You do realise that if I write a movie about you, I will actually be the main star as the patient, long-suffering, dedicated wife?

Anthony: As you wish.

Me: What? Don’t you mind not being the main star?

Anthony: Marion said he’d play my part.

Me: Marion? Who’s Marion?

Anthony: John Wayne. We’ve become friends. His mother wanted a girl; it’s complicated.

Me: And I thought it was me going crazy – it’s you!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Ants?

Anthony: Write the script – write the movie. You are on the right track.

 

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Imagined conversation 31

Me: I haven’t wanted to talk to you lately.

Anthony: I noticed.

Me: Ever since talking to the headstone people I just kind of wanted to run away from the situation.

Anthony: What situation?

Me: Your death.

Anthony: Oh, that – yes.

Me: I’ve gone past the nursing home a few times now, on my motorbike lessons, and it always gives me a bit of a jolt. I saw a photo of you and C. at the nursing home and it shocked me to know that was only months before you died. I keep wanting to see you; it’s horrible, like a yawn of yearning. I’m not trying to be poetic either – it feels like the middle of me is doing this yawwwwwwn thing all the time.

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Anthony: Am I boring you?

Me: Very funny, not. Not that kind of yawn – the kind where you need more oxygen. Isn’t that what a yawn is?

Anthony: [Silence]

Me: And then a gaspy thing happens and I can breathe again and then, finally, I can cry.

Anthony: Why do you want to cry?

Me: I don’t want to cry really but sometimes when I nearly cry and the tears don’t come I feel like forcing it.

Anthony: I’m listening.

Me: Other times one of your favourite songs comes on the car radio and crying just happens. It happened earlier today.

Anthony: I’m sorry I left you in the lurch, Jules.

Me: Sometimes I wish I hadn’t loved you so much. I let you mean too much, Ants – you had become my whole world. Maybe that wasn’t healthy, maybe that’s why I feel so lost now without you.

Anthony: Jules, do you realise what rubbish you are talking? Look at all of the things you are accomplishing now – the motorbike licence, the kayak lessons, the film script idea, helping Ming with his psychology diploma, the volunteering. You are not lost without me.

Me: I feel physically sick, like I am going to vomit, a lot of the time.

Anthony: But you’re free now, Jules. You should make the most of it.

Me: How? Anyway, I never wanted to be free of you!

Anthony: Never?

Me: Not once and I’m pretty sure I’m being honest here.

Anthony: I ended up needing you too much didn’t I.

Me: Sort of. Yeah, okay, I didn’t like that feeling of being so needed I guess.

Anthony: You just need to get your strength back, Jules. Do some aerobic exercise. It does wonders for the body and soul.

Me: WHAAT?

Anthony: Swimming, cycling – keep it up, Jules. Don’t give up – oh and the meditation is also useful.

Me: [Silence]

Anthony: I’ve shocked you, haven’t I.

Me: Yes! Are you being tongue-in-cheek or genuine? Meditation? I can’t believe that word actually came out of your cynical mouth.

Anthony: OM

Me: OM?

Anthony: Feeling better yet?

Me: Actually, yes.

Anthony: All right, so, whenever you don’t feel like talking to me, just OM me and I’ll OM you back.

Me: OM?

Anthony: OMMMMMMMMMM

Me: [Laughing]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Imagined conversation 29

Anthony: Can’t you sleep?

Me: No, it’s the third time in a week. I mean it’s still only midnight but the last couple of times, it was almost 4am before I felt tired enough to go to bed.

Anthony: That’s no good, Jules.

Me: I don’t really mind. It’s not anxiety or anything. I guess I’ll just watch Netflix.

Anthony: You like your thrillers don’t you.

Me: Yep.

Anthony: Well don’t stay up too late or you’ll look haggard when you get up.

Me: Haggard? What do you mean by haggard!

Anthony: I overheard you talking to your mother about how you were worried about looking so haggard after my demise.

Me: Yeah, but I was telling her that my phase of worrying about looking haggard was over and now that I don’t worry about it, I don’t seem to look haggard anymore – weird. See, here is me with A. today. I don’t look so bad after all. I don’t even mind the wrinkles now.

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Anthony: Well, the kid’s cute. He suits you. Maybe you should have another baby.

Me: Droll.

Anthony: Do you ever wish we’d had another one?

Me: Every now and then but Ming is enough.

Anthony: My thoughts exactly.

Me: He is pretty wonderful. The other day he said to me, “Hey, Mum, let’s have another look at you,” as I was heading out. So I turned back and he said, “You look great!”

Anthony: Sounds like the kind of thing I would say.

Me: He says that kind of thing every single day.

Anthony: Are you sure all this vanity is good for you?

Me: Well it beats the hell out of running, panic-stricken, away from the bathroom mirror.

Anthony: I notice you haven’t replace the fluorescent light in there.

Me: Mmmm.

Anthony: Don’t forget all the complimentary things I said to you, will you.

Me: Like….?

Anthony: I recall calling you a gorgeous creature more than once.

Me: Not sure about the creature bit.

Anthony: You know what I mean.

Me: I sometimes miss the way you lit up when I arrived at the nursing home.

Anthony: Now you’re really flattering yourself.

Me: But you did! Even the nurses said so.

Anthony: I put a lot of effort into that.

Me: What rot. You were overjoyed every time and you’d always think that it was magic, and that you’d somehow conjured me up.

Anthony: Poor old fool.

Me: No, you were a beautiful old fool.

Anthony: Thanks.

Me: You know what I mean.

Anthony: One thing though….

Me: Yes?

Anthony: You do need lipstick.

Me: OMG, the feminists will be onto you.

Anthony: But it’s true.

Me: I’ll have to ponder that.

Anthony: Do that. Pondering is something I’ve become quite good at and I think you’d like it.

Me: That’s quite profound actually, Ants.

Anthony: I ponder to please.

Me: (Smiling)

 

 

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Imagined conversation 28

Me: You know that guy I was telling you about – the one in the nursing home who reminds me of you?

Anthony: You mean my nursing home?

Me: No, I can’t bring myself to go back there – yet. I’m talking about the nursing home where I volunteer.

Anthony: So who’s the guy?

Me: His name is K. and I thought he was around your age but one of the nurses told me he was 97!

Anthony: And he reminds you of me?

Me: Yes. It’s uncanny!

Anthony: Thanks a lot. Such a wonderful compliment – not.

Me: Well he doesn’t look a day over 81, Ants. Sorry. He’s got the same starey eyes and the same slow smile; he even seems to have a wittiness like yours. When I asked him how he was the other day, he said he was 150 years old. It was just like the kind of thing you used to say – so funny.

Anthony: Is he sexy like me?

Me: No, for God’s sake, Anthony. Don’t be so ridiculous!

Anthony: Well, I was just wondering.

Me: He’s crazy about Pip.

Anthony: That’s all right – as long as he isn’t crazy about you.

Me: I told him about you dying and he said his wife had died too and we had a bit of a sad moment.

Anthony: You do realise that I’m not 81 anymore, don’t you.

Me: How does that work?

Anthony: Not sure but I feel extraordinary well.

Me: That makes my heart get all warm and toasty. Remember how you used to say that?

Anthony: Plagiarism!

Me: The other day, P. said I should find another beau.

Anthony: What?

Me: Don’t worry, I told him that I’d had the best and there was no topping that.

Anthony: You can tell P. from me to bugger off.

Me: I’ll be more polite.

Anthony: You can quote me on that, Jules, with my blessing.

Me: Oh, so I say, “By the way, P., Anthony told me to tell you to bugger off with his blessing.”

Anthony: That sounds about right.

Me: He won’t believe that I was talking with you.

Anthony: That’s his problem. Anyway back to the old chap, K., if he’s 97 he must be pretty close to the end.

Me: Yeah, he doesn’t look so wonderful.

Anthony: Shake his hand for me.

Me: Why?

Anthony: It seems like a reasonable thing to do.

Me: Okay, I’ll do that. I think he’ll understand.

Anthony: He will. Tell him I’ll keep an eye out for him when the time comes.

Me: Wow, that’s nice of you.

Anthony: You seem to have forgotten what a splendidly marvellous person I am.

Me: I haven’t forgotten.

Anthony: That’s good then.

Me: G’night, Ants.

Anthony: G’night, Jules.

Me: I adore you.

Anthony: Perfectly understandable.

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