jmgoyder

wings and things

Aging ungracefully

I am just a few months away from turning 60 but I am not going to say when my birthday is because I don’t want to be inundated with sympathy messages from my younger-than-60 friends and empathy messages from my older-than-60 friends.

Anyway, jokes aside, and apart from the shock of wondering where the hell all those years decades went so hurriedly, I have actually been feeling a wonderful sense of wellbeing lately and, yes, even youthfulness! In preparation for the onset of my new decade, I recently embarked on a health kick – you know, meditation, mindfulness, eating natural foods, exercise, replacing old unhealthy habits (like too much coffee, a Netflix addiction, and the occasional bout of self-loathing, for example) with new habits like coconut water, jigsaw puzzles and saying I love you, you gorgeous creature into the mirror twenty times each morning. The results have been incredible with the unexpected bonus of looking much younger than the age I am about to become.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday, I went shopping for vitamin supplements to enhance my newfound sense of well-being. I took my little basket of goodies to the counter and, trained by Anthony to always ask for a discount, I beamed confidently at the beautiful young shop assistant and this was our brief conversation.

Me: Is there a discount for people who make big purchases like this?

Beautiful young shop assistant: No, but since you are a senior citizen we can….?

She faltered at my gobsmacked expression and finished with ….if not, I can, well – what about if I take 5% off?

I was still lost for words and felt like saying, 5% will not make up for the fact that you have thoroughly ruined my day, but I just said, Thank you, feeling the already-depleted collagen seeping from my previously rosy cheeks.

So now I cannot actually wait to turn 60 so that remarks like this will be justified.

I can definitely hear Anthony laughing.

 

 

 

23 Comments »

Springtime: Imagined conversation 70

Me: Thank God August is over.

Anthony: Okay, will do.

Me: Do what?

Anthony: I thought you asked me to thank God?

Me: Oh, I see….

Anthony: I felt it too, the August blues.

Me: Did you?

Anthony: Well, you know how I dislike winter.

Me: I didn’t think you got winter over there.

Anthony: No, but I felt for you.

Me: It wasn’t so much the winter; it was because it was the month you died. I thought I would get all sad on the 23rd but instead I was sad for the whole month. It was horrible.

Anthony: And now?

Me: Ever since the 1st of September – the first day of spring – it is as if a heavy fog has lifted.

Anthony: Good on you, Jules.

Me: I got a lot of comfort out of our conversations during August though.

Anthony: My pleasure.

Me: I don’t feel the need to talk with you as much now.

Anthony: You’ve said that before. Don’t worry – I will survive.

Me: Ha – ironic.

Anthony: You have a lot of living to do, Jules – at least another 20 years.

Me: If you had said that in August I would have felt daunted. Ming said my eyes went all dark.

Anthony: And now?

Me: Now I feel a sense of excitement.

Anthony: Shine on, baby!

Me: You too.

Anthony: I am so shiny now you would need your sunglasses.

Me: For some reason that conjured an image of nudity.

Anthony: You are so perceptive, Jules! I am at the naturist beach.

Me: Oh hell.

Anthony: No, this is heaven.

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The gift of grief: Imagined conversation 66

Anthony: I sense a poem?

Me: I sense cynicism?

Anthony: Go for it, Jules.

Me: Grief is more of question mark than a word or a concept.

Anthony: Please, not the metaphorical – please!

Me: Grief is like punctuation – it comes and goes and is very subjective – and it isn’t a sentence.

Anthony: Not sure what you mean exactly.

Me: Okay, so Ming responded to a friend who innocently asked him what he was doing on the 23rd with OH YES IT IS THE DEATHDAY OF MY DAD!!!

Anthony: He has your dramatic attributes.

Me: No, he has YOUR dramatic attributes.

Anthony: The poem?

Me: I have lost it now – argh – it was something to do with grief being like a coin on which the other side is gratitude. For example, the greater the grief, the greater the love lost = gratitude for what was.

Anthony: Is.

Me: What?

Anthony: Please use the present tense from now on when you talk about love.

Me: Yeah, but I don’t want to sound all squishy squashy, wishy washy….

Anthony: JULES!

Me: Yes, Ants?

Anthony: It is all good. And, by the way, I am having drinks tomorrow to celebrate you!

Me: I miss you to the point of no return, Ants!

Anthony: Change the punctuation, Jules; change the sentence(s); keep writing and come back!

Me: Okay. I think I get it now.

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Daddy Cool

I received an email this week, from the funeral directors, reminding me that it was nearly a year since Anthony died and offering links to grief counselling etc. I thought this was rather lovely as it affirmed that my August anxiety issues are perfectly normal – phew! There is nothing quite like being reassured that your abnormal behaviour is actually normal….

Anyway, in remembering the blur of my funeral arrangements, I recall being somewhat disappointed that my choice of exit music/song wasn’t played louder as the funeral ended. It was the Boney M 1979 version of the song Daddy Cool; and, at the time, I was 20 and he was 43. We were just best friends (all the romantic stuff happened much later) but we both loved Boney M.

I probably posted the link to this song last year but here it is again. Risqué, full of innuendo, hilarious, and wonderfully mischievous, this song catches a glimpse of the Anthony I fell in love with, and the daddy cool who Ming never met.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Daddy+Daddy+Who+Cool&&view=detail&mid=EBB60415B4807E19572CEBB60415B4807E19572C&&FORM=VRDGAR

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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 56

DSCN0928Me: Today, I had some rather wonderful visits with people who have dementia.

Anthony: What is the point, Jules? They have all lost their marbles.

Me: So did you!

Anthony: Rubbish!

Me: Okay, whatever you say.

Anthony: Why are you crying?

Me: Because I miss your sarcasm so much, Ants.

Anthony: Do you have to hug and kiss them so much, Jules?

Me: Please say you are not jealous, Ants, because that would be ridiculous. Anyway, I only do the hugging/kissing thing casually and tend to just put my arm around a shoulder here and there.

Anthony: That sounds reasonable.

Me: I wish you were still here to advise me like you always did before, about my toomuchness.

Anthony: You have the Ming for that, Jules.

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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 54

1995 062

Me: I know you’re probably a bit sick of me talking about your headstone (I know Ming is!) but I do feel a sense of relief to have at least begun the process.

Anthony: I’m not sick of it at all, Jules. I really enjoy our conversations about me.

Me: Oh, okay … you are unbelievable!

Anthony: I think your choice of ruby red granite shows extremely good taste.

Me: So did you check it out?

Anthony: It reminds me of the time I chose the colour red for the Aga.

Me: Yes – me too! I mean it reminds me of the Aga. What about the white lettering? I know you love white so….

Anthony: Perfect.

Me: It was so interesting chatting with the company’s representative, as we roamed around the cemetery, because she showed me details I might otherwise have missed.

Anthony: And?

Me: I told her that you liked clean lines even though you were a bit rough around the edges yourself. I told her that you were a bit of a paradox.

Anthony: You flatter me.

Me: That wasn’t a compliment, Ants.

Anthony: What does Ming think?

Me: Sorry to disappoint you, Ants, but I don’t think Ming could care less at the moment. He is busy, very busy, with his two jobs and his quest.

Anthony: What quest?

Me: I think he is looking for the kind of love we had, Ants.

Anthony: Ah, that explains a lot; he is searching for the impossible….

Me: And the implausible?

Anthony: Ming is MING – he is unapologetically himself always. I’ve never seen anything like it!

Me: I know, Ants, and I often wonder how we produced a son who has more strength of character then either of us ever had.

Anthony: You don’t have to always figure everything out, Jules, especially when it comes to Ming.

Me: Ming is the best, most genuine, person in my life, Ants, and he cares about me.

Anthony: Let Ming go, Jules – let him find his own way and stop interfering.

Me: Okay.

 

 

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Imagined conversation 53

Me: I did it!

Anthony: You did what?

Me: I met with a monument person at the cemetery and she was so lovely!

Anthony: But I thought you and Ming weren’t going to bother.

Me: Yeah, but I was seduced by the ruby red granite and the idea of white lettering – all guaranteed for at least five years. Also, if I die, Ming can get the message altered quite easily to include me too, even if I am cremated.

Anthony: This sounds quite complicated, Jules. How much is this going to cost?

Me: It depends on the wording: if I just put “Anthony Goyder 1936-2017” it will be relatively cheap because you pay per each letter.

Anthony: Just do that then, Jules.

Me: No way, Ants! I am going to write our story on your tombstone.

Anthony: Please, Jules, don’t!

Me: I was just kidding, Ants! Now that you are dead, there is no hurry for anything.

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Imagined conversation 52

Anthony: Stop censoring yourself, Jules. You can say anything you want!

Me: That’s kind of Ming’s philosophy too. I’ll be agonising about a simple decision and he always says, “MUM! DO WHAT YOU WANT!”

Anthony: He’s right, that boy of mine.

Me: He’s pragmatic, assertive, hilarious and LOUD, just like you. Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you – he’s wearing your Omega watch now. He was never interested before but now that you are dead, it appeals to him more.

Anthony: Ah yes, 1970. That was a good year.

Me: On the back of the watch it says, “Anthony Barr Goyder 1970.” I know I was 11 at the time and living in Canada so you would have been 34. Why did you buy yourself the watch? I know, when I met you, you wore it often, and with some pride, but I never asked you about it. Why didn’t I?

Anthony: Because you weren’t interested.

Me: Sorry.

Anthony: Does it fit Ming’s wrist?

Me: It’s a tiny bit loose but wearable and I am trying not to show too much excitement about him wearing your watch in case my sentimentality puts him off.

Anthony: He adores you, Jules.

Me: He brings me back into focus always. He always knows when something is off with me and tells me that my eyes have gone dark – weird.

Anthony: You are a bit weird lately, Jules.

Me: It’s just that August is approaching, which will make it a year since you died and my sense of grief is so unpredictable. I just want it to go away; I want the grief to go away because it’s in the way. No offence, Ants.

Anthony: None taken. The thing is, Jules, the grief won’t go away.

Me: But why?

Anthony: It’s part of who you are now, apparently. Your dad gave me a cheat sheet at a recent grief counselling session so that’s how I know this.

Me: So, you guys, the dead, grieve for us, the living? No way – that is impossible!

Anthony: I kid you not, kid.

Me: Oh Ants, these imagined conversations with you have become so much fun for me, as well as poignant etc. Often, I can hear memories of your sarcastic, funny voice and your straight-up response to my dramatics. Thank you for all of these amazing memories of our real conversations; thank you for being so devoted to me when you were alive; and thank you for these incredible imagined responses from you.

Anthony: You forgot to mention my beautiful body.

Me: I cannot believe I let you say that, Ants; shut up!

Anthony: As you wish.

6 Comments »