wings and things

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.


Imagined conversation 102

Me: Your birthday party’s not happening now, Ants. Sorry!

Anthony: Well, I wouldn’t have been able to come along anyway, Jules, so it’s okay.

Me: Between the time I thought of the idea to now (just a few days!) we are now in semi-lockdown, there are local cases of Covid 19, the border to Western Australia will soon open, and we are already having to wear masks everywhere.

Anthony: Just a light-hearted suggestion, Jules – perhaps you could buy a more cheerful mask? With your dark sunglasses and your black mask you look like a bandit.

Me: Not funny. None of this is funny, Ants. It’s all very well for you, safe in Heaven.

Anthony: Yes, I have to admit that dying when I did was incredibly wise timing.

Me: The whole world has changed since then; it’s a bit scary actually.

Anthony: Are you afraid you might contract the disease and die because of your asthma?

Me: Well, yes, I guess….

Anthony: What’s really bothering you?

Me: I invited your brother and his wife to your birthday party which isn’t happening now anyway.

Anthony: And….?

Me: They didn’t even bother to reply.

Anthony: And….?

Me: Part of me hoped for some sort of response from them, out of respect for you I guess. Last night I rang their home phone to tell them the party was now cancelled but nobody answered so I just left a message.

Anthony: That was very sweet of you, Jules.

Me: Yuck! I hate that word ‘sweet’ Ants – stop calling me that!

Anthony: That was very generous of you, Jules.

Me: Much better!

Anthony: We gave up on them a long time ago, Jules. I’ve escaped that grief by dying but you are still there trying – oh, that rhymes! Stop trying.

Me: I just wanted to have a little family get-together to remember you, Ants!

Anthony: Well you can’t now anyway due to Covid 19 so just concentrate on yourself, Ming and his partner.

Me: Okay, yes, okay. So what do you think of her?

Anthony: Bloody beautiful!


Imagined conversation 101

Anthony: What are you doing up so late?

Me: It’s only 10pm, Ants. You know me, I’m a night owl, and I’ve been planning a small get-together for your birthday – just a few of your family and a few of mine, and maybe some friends.

Anthony: Oh!

Me: I’ll have a statue of you erected in the front garden.

Anthony: Oh!

Me: That was a joke.

Anthony: Oh!

Me: Anyway, I’ll send a few invitations out and see what interest there is. Don’t expect a throng though, just in case.

Anthony: Sorry to interfere, Jules, but I hope you aren’t ordering pizza for the occasion.

Me: Why are you asking me that?

Anthony: My 75th.

Me: Oh, okay, cupcakes?

Anthony: I love it when you call me that.


Imagined conversation 100

Anthony: [sighing]

Me: Why are you sighing?

Anthony: I sense the possibility of a difficult conversation.

Me: That’s weird because I had a horrible dream last night that while I was in Europe you found another girlfriend called Anna and, when I returned you invited me to the farm to meet her. I was broken-hearted and insanely jealous but I decided to behave with dignity until it came time for me to leave, or Anna to leave. It was obvious that you wanted me to leave so you rang Ming to pick me up and take me home to my mother’s place. It was a dream filled with shock after shock.

Anthony: It was just a dream, Jules.

Me: Do you know an Anna?

Anthony: I have never known any Annas, my darling!

Me: Are you laughing at me?

Anthony: [spluttering] No!

Me: Then why did you call me your darling so sarcastically?

Anthony: Because you seem to be jealous of a nonexistent girlfriend [sipping]

Me: Are you drinking?

Anthony: There’s an angel around here called Anna but I’ve never met her.

Me: Good segue, Ants. Are you drinking?

Anthony: All right, yes, but its just just a tipple from God’s cellar; it’s non-alcoholic but it helps us all to fly when we need to.

Me: What a lot of rubbish!

Anthony: What’s really the matter, Jules?

Me: Well, for some reason, that horrible dream made me change my mind.

Anthony: About what?

Me: The book idea. I want to do it after all but not yet. Also, I want to make it a really short book, not the tome I originally imagined and in the meantime I am practicing my childhood cartooning skills and I have to say I am rather talented!

Anthony: That’s good, Jules.

Me: “That’s good, Jules” – is that the best you can do?

Anthony: Sorry, Jules, one of the new angels just offered me another drink.

Me: Is her name Anna?

Anthony: As a matter of fact it is! What a coincidence.

Me: OMG so I was right!

Anthony: She dances like a butterfly from person to person here but she is apparently 3,000 years old and looks like a moth.

Me: Oh I hate moths! Ugghh!

Anthony: You only had that strange dream because you miss us.

Me: You’re right.

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