wings and things

You weren’t there

Me: Yesterday, Ming and Benita celebrated their second anniversary of meeting each other with a “beangagement” party.

Anthony: I thought you didn’t want to do these conversations anymore, Jules.

Me: I don’t really, but, Ants, it was magic! I just wanted to tell you and then I’ll leave you alone.

Anthony: It was your idea to leave me alone, not mine.

Me: So, their play on words – bean (the baby) + engaged – was pretty clever don’t you think?

Anthony: I might be dead, Jules, but I’m not thick. But, yes, it was clever.

Me: Lots of people couldn’t come due to covid, including Grandma and Benita’s only sister, but there was still a crowd of well-wishers.

Anthony: And an abundance of pizza?

Me: Was that your idea for your 75th, or mine?

Anthony: Ours.

Me: Good point. But, Ants, in amongst the joy, frivolity, Ming and Benita’s commitment to each other, and their soon-to-be baby, I felt/feel a bit lost inside my own heart.

Anthony: Why is that, Jules?

Me: It was such a great party, last night – you would have loved it!

Anthony: And?

Me: You weren’t there.


There is history in these remnants

Today, Ming, his fiancĂ©, Benita, and I met with Elva and Craig, a brother and sister team who have a business called “Upholstery Transformations”. These two wonderful people have reupholstered numerous old armchairs for us for over 20 years, probably longer, and I remember, vividly, the time Anthony and I were choosing fabrics and Elva had to come outside to meet him as he was unable to get out of the car due to his Parkinson’s.

More recently, but still over five years ago, Craig reupholstered an armchair and a love-seat, both of which have been wonderful additions to my new home – my little cottage in Bunbury, Western Australia.

The two armchairs that Craig is now tackling are, in my mind, almost ‘farmchairs’ as they were used and used! I was even about to throw one of them out because it was so stained and dirty and worn and Jack, one of our dogs, had adopted it as his bed. I was tempted to simply throw it out until Ming exclaimed, “That was Dad’s chair!” Whoops.

Until recently, I had had both armchairs squished into my small cottage so it was quite a relief to relinquish one of them to Ming – his dad’s, Anthony’s. The other armchair is mine – a big, fat-armed, comfy chair with old-fashioned floral fabric. I have chosen a deep greeny-blue velvetty material to bring this chair back to life and I am so excited!

So, today Ming and Benita chose the fabric to recreate Anthony’s armchair and wow, it is perfect! Before and after pics coming in due course.

I was going to post this as a conversation with Anthony but I think it is time to dis-engage with the past and embrace the future and these two armchairs are part of that.

Thank you, Elva

Thank you, Craig

And we all chose our amazing fabrics from remnants!


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.