jmgoyder

wings and things

Regaining equilibrium: Imagined conversation 71

Anthony: Long time, Jules.

Me: I have been keeping our conversations more silent lately.

Anthony: I know, and even those will become less as time goes by.

Me: The strange thing about the pain of grief is that it feels a lot like excitement; it is almost exactly the same sensation, like a slight punch to the stomach that sort of fizzes up into the chest – a small explosion, short-lived.

Anthony: When does it happen?

Me: Well, yesterday I was having coffee with my mother at a chocolate shop and I had the fleeting, split-second thought that I would buy you a box of the new rose-coloured chocolates.

Anthony: Bittersweet?

Me: Yes, both the chocolate and then the inevitable moment that I remembered you were dead.

Anthony: You sound more at peace; that is what I have been praying for.

Me: Since when do you pray?

Anthony: Well it comes with the territory here, Jules.

Me: Oh. Well your prayers are working. I am much more hopeful now.

Anthony: Of what?

Me: Of nothing really – just hopeful.

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Illustration courtesy of Colleen at https://bikecolleenbrown.wordpress.com/

(Colleen is the friend who is collaborating with me on the book about grief).

 

 

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You and me: Imagined conversation 69

Me: Exciting news, Ants.

Anthony: Well, it is about time, Jules. The white noise of our conversations was beginning to bore me.

Me: Yeah, same, so anyway one of my blog friends and I are going to collaborate in a project that synchronises her illustrations with our conversations.

Anthony: Which conversations?

Me: Not sure yet but probably some of the funnier dementia dialogues and maybe a few of the imagined conversations … what do you think? Here is the link to her blog:

https://bikecolleenbrown.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/figuring-it-out/

Anthony: I approve.

Me: You know, sometimes I cannot quite figure you out, in the NOW, I mean.

Anthony: C has it down pat – I am your angel now.

Screenshot (195)Me: No way am I going to think of you as my angel, Ants!

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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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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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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 55

Me: This is my fifth attempt to write the same thing. I just cannot seem to capture the flavour of your voice properly, Ants.

Anthony: Does it matter? Which voice?

Me: Well that is probably what the problem is. There is your long ago booming, laughing voice, then there is your more recent quiet, stumbling voice, and now there is your imagined heavenly voice.

Anthony: Does it matter? I rather like the heavenly voice.

Me: It matters to me that I get it right, Ants! I want these conversations to mean something.

Anthony: You worry too much, Jules.

Me: I know, but the other thing is that I have run out of photos of you so I have to use the same ones again and again and sometimes I forget that I have already posted that photo or this photo….

Anthony: None of this matters, Jules (although I do prefer the more flattering photos of me).

Me: I love you so much, Ants.

Anthony: Good, Jules.

Me: You are supposed to say it back!

Anthony: I LOVE YOU, JULES!

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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 49

Anthony: “How’s my boy?”

Me: He likes to talk things through.

Anthony: Sounds like someone else I know.

Me: I told him once that I wished he were more like you than me.

Anthony: How so?

Me: Less intense, more lackadaisical.

Anthony: But he’s a larrikin after my own heart.

Me: More like a larrikin with a complicated heart. Anyway guess what he said?

Anthony: Was it as profound as my many utterances?

Me: Definitely. He said, “Mum, I adore everything about me that is like you.”

Anthony: Not bad, but what about my genes?

Me: I have encouraged him to cultivate those but he obviously likes being intensely, philosophically, introspectively himself.

Anthony: But what about…?

Me: Don’t worry, he is also extremely loud, boisterous, fun-loving, easy-going and straight-from-the-shoulder honest.

Anthony: I keep thinking he is still a little boy.

Me: You used to see hallucinations of him as a little boy in your nursing home room all the time so, when this great big hulk of a man visited, you couldn’t quite compute that it was Ming.

Anthony: I was in awe.

Me: I’ll tell him that.

Anthony: Tell him I love him from beyond the grave and that I now have super powers.

Me: Ants, he’s not 10!

Anthony: Jules, I was just trying to make you laugh!

Me: Oh, sorry, yes and you’ve just reminded me of what made our unlikely union work so well – the laughter, so much of it. I wish now that I could bundle it all up – all of that laughter – and give it away, or back to us somehow, like a gift.

Anthony: You can, Jules. You can do anything you want to do with intangibles – emotions, thoughts, words, memories, hopes, dreams, even sorrows….

Me: Are you talking about quantum physics here, Ants? I hope not, because I am in Ming’s psychology course mode at the moment.

Anthony: And…?

Me: Well he has this rather new idea that kindness is better than knowledge when it relates to power.

Anthony: Would you like me to ask God? (There are a few of them here.)

Me: That would be great – thanks, Ants!

Anthony: About Ming.

Me: Yes?

Anthony: He will figure everything out himself so there is no need for us to worry about him. Ever.

 

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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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