jmgoyder

wings and things

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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Imagined conversation 43

Me: I think my favourite camellia is dead, dead, dead! I’m devastated! I keep hoping it will come back to life but, even with all this rain, there are no flowers flowering!

Anthony: Yes and I hate to break this to you, Jules, but it is definitely dead.

Me: Are you sure?

Anthony: You really don’t have a clue about gardening do you. Now that I have a more objective view of things, I can see this quite clearly.

Me: But all of the other camellia trees are fine! It’s just that special one – my camellia, the one I bought from that lady, Bonnie, from The Vision Splendid Gardens in 1998 at an exorbitant price because it had to be dug out of the ground.

Anthony: The thing is, Jules, plants need water, especially in the summer, especially in Australia.

Me: Yes, I know that, Ants. I’m not a moron! Anyway, it’s winter now.

Anthony: Preceded by summer?

Me: Well, duhh.

Anthony: What you do is you get the hose, position it against the trunk of the tree, turn the tap on and hey presto. On very hot days, leave the hose on for longer.

Me: Patronising bastard.

Anthony: It’s not rocket science.

Me: What? Since when do you use expressions like that?

Anthony: Somebody I knew used to say that a lot.

Me: Yeah, but I don’t water anything anymore because when I turn the tap on, the pump pumps and it uses electricity and I’m trying to be conservative which, by the way, was something you, yourself, encouraged.

Anthony: There are always exceptions, Jules. I watered your camellia religiously every summer, while you were at work, before I went into the nursing home.

Me: So how come it survived without you watering it for six years.

Anthony: Ming did it.

Me: Oh! Actually, you’re right – I remember him doing it. It was during one of his following-in-your-footsteps phases.

Anthony: Don’t be sad about it, Jules.

Me: But I am, Ants. I loved that camellia so much – its incredible, ballerina-like flower, the story about how we convinced Bonnie to sell it to us and the way her workmen secretly gave us three trees because they thought Bonnie had ripped me off.

Anthony: It’s not dead, Jules.

Me: And I used to bring you the best of its flowers when you were in the nursing home and, after you died, I took them to your grave.

Anthony: Are you listening?

Me: Yes?

Anthony: I nicked it.

Me: What?

Anthony: The camellia died so Bonnie and I figured out how to get it here without you noticing, then we planted it, and now it’s flourishing.

Me: What?

Anthony: Your camellia is here, Jules.

Me: What?

Anthony: Stop saying “what?”

Me: I beg your pardon?

Anthony: That’s better.

Me: If you were here, I would punch you gently on the nose but oh, Ants, I am so relieved that it’s okay – the tree, I mean. Thank you so much. I am going to miss it but it’s good to know it’s in good hands. I’m sorry I don’t have green thumbs like you.

Anthony: My thumbs are now a heavenly shade of emerald and….

Me: Okay, I get the picture.

Anthony: Good.

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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 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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