wings and things

Imagined conversation 112

Me: My back door won’t open anymore – it’s stuck – so I need a new door and, in order to let the dogs in and out, I had to clear the laundry door from a bit of clutter.

Anthony: I’m not quite sure why you are telling me this: is there an issue we need to talk about?

Me: Well, yes and no. It was your mother’s sturdy ironing board that was mostly in the way, so I moved it outside because it’s a very small laundry.

Anthony: And?

Me: Oh! So you don’t mind?

Anthony: Of course I don’t mind!

Me: May I throw it away then?

Anthony: That’s a bit drastic – didn’t you used to iron my clothes on that ironing board?

Me: Under your mother’s instructions – yes, of course, as well as all of the tea-towels, sheets, pillow-cases and your football shorts.

Anthony: My football shorts?

Me: You know – the ones you wore to milk the cows!

Anthony: That is something I am sure I never knew at the time.

Me: There’s probably a lot that neither of us knew.

Anthony: Cryptic.

Me: Not at all! I just want to get rid of the stupid ironing board, please, Ants?

Anthony: But why?

Me: Because I don’t iron!


Imagined conversation 111

Anthony: Yes?

Me: Why are you saying ‘yes’ with that intolerant tone? I am about to tell you about your armchairs!

Anthony: Yes?

Me: Well, after Ming insisted that the armchair you sat in, in the living room of the farm, get re-upholstered, rather than trashed, I succumbed to his wishes.

Anthony: That’s my boy.

Me: Yes, but the trouble is that, on the way to the upholsterers, Ming and I accidentally had a rather sad conversation about you almost never coming to his football games when he was a kid.

Anthony: I was embarrassed.

Me: Ming has never really told me about his disappointment until today. He really wanted you to see him kick those goals, make that team, win those races … but it was always only me and, sometimes, my mother, watching him succeed.

Anthony: I’m sorry.

Me: I wondered why Ming was so interested in re-upholstering your armchair when it is so stained from your head resting there for so many years of you getting sicker and sicker.

Anthony: This son of ours will be the father I would have been/wanted to be.

Me: So, come on, Ants – let’s choose the fabric!


Imagined conversation 110

Me: We are going to be grandparents, Ants!

Anthony: I know that, Jules.

Me: So how long have you known this, Ants?

Anthony: A few weeks before last Christmas. I knew before you knew, Jules, but that’s only because I have the advantage of perspective.

Me: Let me guess: heavenly perspective?

Anthony: Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Jules. It used to, but not now.

Me: Ming and Benita revealed the news to me on the 19th of December by putting her in a huge cardboard box, making me un-box her, prompting me to unwrap the ribbon around her waist which contained the pregnancy stick saying it was positive.

Anthony: I watched this and your confusion was gold.

Me: And then I cried with shock and joy, and shock and joy again!

Anthony: I’m not there any more in any down-to-earth way, but I’m still there somehow, I hope.

Me: It is almost impossible to describe the exact symmetry of my joy and anguish to you, Ants. You are the missing piece, the missing half, the incredible grandfather not-to-be, the proudest father ever, my absolutely beautiful husband, gone but not gone.

Anthony: Ming has found his match! Benita is that, and much more.

Me: I know! She is like a gift, a daughter, and a friend.

Anthony: And Ming?

Me: A bit like you, Ants – a rather rustic knight in shinily stained armor that needs a bit of a polish – my hero – my absolute hero.

Anthony: We are going to be grandparents, Jules!


Imagined conversation 109

Me: Now that I have a title for our book, I know how to structure it.

Anthony: That’s good, Jules.

Me: Do you remember, during your dementia experience, how you used to get words and concepts and memories a bit mixed up?

Anthony: Vaguely, yes.

Me: You’d say things like, “hose the kettle” or “feed the hay” or “sweep the dog.”

Anthony: Did I?

Me: It was as if you had too many things on your mind at once.

Anthony: Yes, I remember being muddled but I’m not muddled any more, Jules.

Me: I know, Ants, but I want our book to reflect some of how that muddled experience affected us all – you, me, Ming, Grandma, and so many others.

Anthony: I sense a question?

Me: Would it be okay with you if I called the book: Sweeping the dog: a love story about Parkinsons disease dementia?

Anthony: I suppose so although it seems a bit longwinded. You’re the writer, Jules – you’ll figure it out.

Me: My other idea for a book title is Anthony’s smile, but that’s a bit too ambiguous.

Anthony: What about A happy ending?

Me: You always have to have the last word, Ants – unbelievable!


Imagined conversation 108

Me: Ming sold the ute, Ants! I have some cash in my pocket – whoohoo!

Anthony: Happy Valentine’s day to you too, Jules.

Me: What? We’ve never celebrated Valentine’s day; you always thought it unnecessary!

Anthony: People change.

Me: Usually people change their minds about things when they are still alive, if you don’t mind me saying so, Ants.

Anthony: I know Val now – he is a great guy! And he has invented a few new ways of saying “love” in English. Like, “You are the sun underneath the carpet I sweep.”

Me: No wonder he was martyred.

Anthony: So how much did Ming get for the ute?

Me: Why?

Anthony: Just curious.

Me: Yes, well, I’m not sure now as I’ve put it under the carpet, Ants.


Imagined conversation 107

Me: I think I might have been on the brink of making a mistake today, Ants.

Anthony: Surely not, Jules! What, how, when, and why?

Me: Your armchair.

Anthony: What about it?

Me: Well, it was already pretty stained from age, you sitting in it for so many years, and now Jack has adopted it as his favourite place to sleep, and … quite frankly I would like to get rid of it.

Anthony: Who the hell is Jack?

Me: Your Irish terrier, Ants – have you forgotten?

Anthony: Oh yeah, sorry. I thought you were talking about another man.

Me: So, anyway, I asked Ming if he would object to me tossing the chair out rather than having it reupholstered and guess what he said?

Anthony: He’s young so I’m sure he told you to get rid of it.

Me: No! He said, “Isn’t that Dad’s chair?”


Imagined conversation 106

Me: Happy birthday for yesterday, Ants! Ming, his partner, my mother and I all toasted you with green juice before eating our kebabs and gozleme.

Anthony: Green juice? Where was the champagne? And what the hell is gozleme? Is this one of your diets?

Me: No!

Anthony: Let me get this right: no champagne for my birthday.

Me: Yeah, sorry about that but….

Anthony: No message from you ON my birthday which, by the way, was yesterday, and I also overheard you saying that I would have been 85 when, as your mother pointed out, I actually would have been 86.

Me: Math isn’t my forte, Ants, you know that! Anyway don’t you automatically revert to your favourite age in Heaven?

Anthony: Yes, but still … no champagne? It’s a shock, Jules.

Me: Other things were happening yesterday that distracted me, Ants – fires down south, the covid disease, earthly stuff you have obviously forgotten.

Anthony: Fair enough, well said. I apologise. How is my Ming?

Me: Just like you – it’s uncanny. He has the surety of the unsurety down pat (or the reverse, not sure): suffice it to say, he feels omniscient.

Anthony: That’s my boy!

Me: (Sigh) I think I might get that bottle of champagne after all.

Anthony: Don’t you still miss me, Jules?

Me: Stop fishing – yes, of course, but you are also like a thorn in my side.

Anthony: Sorry, Jules.

Me: Loving you is/was the most difficult thing I have ever done but the repercussions of that are unbounding.

Anthony: Is that a good or a bad thing?

Me: Happy birthday, Ants, for all of the yesterdays.


Imagined conversation 105

Anthony: You are procrastinating, Jules.

Me: Yes, I know, I know – the abandoned, relinquished/ unwritten, rewritten, over-written tome of my life with you!

Anthony: Or else your life with me?

Me: That’s the same thing, Ants! It should be the other way around, silly; your life with me – there is a subtle difference.

Anthony: So you want to be the star?

Me: Of course not! Can we change the subject please?

Anthony: Is it going to be detrimental to my character?

Me: I just wanted to ask you about why you don’t like walnut wood.

Anthony: What?

Me: And why you’re such a snob about not liking walnut furniture.

Anthony: I’m not quite sure where this is going, Jules, but I just prefer jarrah and mahogany.

Me: So you saw the Italian chess set I bought Ming for Christmas?

Anthony: Yes – rather extravagant if you don’t mind me saying.

Me: Before buying it, I asked the owner of this extraordinary shop to check what kind of wood went into the making of this chess set, because I didn’t want walnut.

Anthony: Loyal to my every whim – I’m proud of you, Jules!

Me: The owner of the shop did her research and discovered that Ming’s chess set was made of a combination of mahogany and walnut.

Anthony: Walnut?

Me: I even told the shop owner that my deceased husband didn’t like walnut! She had the grace to look away as I made the decision to buy the chess set for Ming, walnut and all.

Anthony: Well, I just had a look and it’s mostly mahogany anyway….

Me: The point is, Ants, even though you weren’t a control freak per se, you really influenced the way I still think and feel about all sorts of things.

Anthony: Like what?

Me: You were just as gentle with your roses, camellias and daffodils as you were with polishing your furniture. You cared about these things, and I learned to care about these things too, but….

Anthony: But what?

Me: I LOVE walnut!

Anthony: Okay. I’m a bit shocked at your taste but go for it, Jules. So when will you finish the book?

Me: As soon as you stop talking, Ants.


Imagined conversation 104

Me: The weirdest thing happened the other day, Ants.

Anthony: What do you mean by weird?

Me: Well my mother went to a lot of trouble to get a beautifully big gold ring cut off her finger (due to a knuckle being swollen) and then she had it re-sized for me as a birthday present.

Anthony: That doesn’t sound weird at all, Jules. Your mother adores you.

Me: No, no, I’m just giving you the context.

Anthony: What context?

Me: After we picked up the ring and I put it on my finger, my mother and I went to a coffee shop and mutually admired how wonderful the ring looked on my hand.

Anthony: Hold on, I’m just adjusting the angle – oh yes, that’s a beauty! When did you start getting manicures?

Me: Ages ago; that’s not the point.

Anthony: I’m still waiting to hear the weird bit of this story.

Me: Well, my mother and I were just chatting about how she bought herself the ring as a gift from my dad after he died.

Anthony: Is that where you got the idea of spending my fortune on yourself?

Me: What fortune?

Anthony: Just a joke, Jules.

Me: So my mother then said, “Are you going to….” and then she suddenly clapped her hand over her mouth, and looked a bit alarmed. She then told me the rest of that unfinished sentence: “…. get a birthday present for Anthony today?”

Anthony: That’s great, Jules – I love to be remembered.

Me: You don’t get it, Ants. She forgot you were dead! When she realised her almost-faux pas, we both had a bit of a shocked giggle.

Anthony: I don’t think my hovering spiritual presence is a laughing matter, Jules.

Me: Neither does my mother.

Anthony: And you?

Me: Absolutely hilarious!


Imagined conversation 102

Me: Ming is the best gift you have ever given me, Ants.

Anthony: Well, technically speaking, you gave him to me, Jules.

Me: Even though he is now 28, and settled, I think he would have loved it if you were still here, no matter how incapacitated.

Anthony: I often wish I could hug my this son of mine and the worst thing about being dead is that I can’t.

Me: But you’re still somewhere aren’t you, like Heaven?

Anthony: I’m not sure exactly where I am but I seem to be able to somehow catapult myself into your heart, and, hopefully, Ming’s.

Me: Thank you, Ants.

Anthony: At your service, Jules.