wings and things


It’s been a busy week, punctuated by strange occurrences. For example, as I rode my bicycle home the other day (from my incredibly long 2 kilometre challenge), I took a short-cut across the front lawn and saw this:


I assumed that it was a cowpat (you know, the stuff that comes out of a cow’s bottom, ordinarily called cowshit but I am being polite), but none of our neighbours’ cattle usually visit, so then I thought maybe the alpacas, Okami and Uluru, had had a pooing competition, but the pile of whatever-it-was was too big to fit either of these possible scenarios, and, even though geese and ducks produce a lot of this kind of thing, they tend to do it all over the place and not in one spot.

Later in the day I told Ming about it:

Me: There’s this huge pile of shxx on the front lawn – have you seen it?
Ming: No, it’s probably your stupid birds.
Me: No this is massive and it looks really weird, like a UFO or something.
Ming: Don’t worry about it!
Me: Would you mind coming out and having a look?
Ming: Grrr – okay.

So I showed Ming and he started to laugh hysterically.

Me: What’s so funny?
Ming: Remember that pea soup you made and forgot to put in the frig and asked me to throw out?
Me: Oh.


The delicious taste of laughter

If I were at a restaurant and was offered a choice of my favourite foods – oysters, fillet steak, pizza, Caesar salad, a cheese platter, a doner kebab, or laughter – I would choose the latter.

If I were at a pub and was offered a choice of my favourite drinks – beer, shiraz, a pink gin, or laughter – I would choose the latter.

If you were to ask me what I would rather do – go for a walk, sleep in, read a book, visit a friend, do a good day’s work, or five minutes of laughter – I would choose the latter.

And, if you were to ask me if I preferred love over laughter, I would have to say no.

Today Ming and I picked Anthony up at around 10am and then proceeded to do a few errands in town before getting burgers and fries and eating them at a park overlooking the beachfront. Ants was very wobbly so we had to eat in the car. I’d given him his 11am pill a bit late so he wasn’t able to eat very well and kept mistaking his fries for strawers (you know for a drink). In the end I had to pretty much feed him half of my burger, but he had a lot of trouble biting, chewing and swallowing, and was dribbling terribly (Parkinson’s disease often affects the swallowing reflex).

On the way home to the farm, as the pill kicked its magic in, Ants began to recover but everything he said was so incoherent, quiet or nonsensical, that Ming and I had to eventually just respond with ‘yes.’ Once home, Anthony became extremely mobile and walked around the farm with and without his walker and at one stage he somehow took his shirt off to get a bit of sun, before coming inside for a cup of tea. But, just as suddenly (about 2.30pm), he became totally immobile and it took me an age to get him from house to car, by which time he was panting from exhaustion (and so was I!)

By then Ming had left us and gone to his shed to do a cleanup so I drove Ants over to say goodbye (it was now 3pm with next pill due at 4pm) and Ming was surprised.

Ming: Are you going already, Dad?”
Anthony: Yes, she just wants to get rid of me.
Me: I don’t know why I bother!

I was very hurt by Ants’ remark (especially by the fact that it was the first coherent thing he’d said all day), and I told him so on the way back to the nursing home. We put the car radio on to drown out the mutual misery until Ants actually whispered something in his new, soft voice. I turned the radio off.

Ants: I’m sorry, Jules.
Me: I can’t believe you said I wanted to get rid of you!
Ants (taking my hand and kissing it): I didn’t mean it.
Me: What do you and Ming want – my blood? I am doing my best!
Ants: I know, beautiful girl. I love you.
Me: I love you too so don’t ever think I want to get rid of you – please!
Ants: Glad I got a bit of work done today and Ming was a great help.
Me: Me too – thank you – I don’t know what I’d do without you, baby cheeks!

[He thought that he and Ming had done some jobs around the farm].

By this time we had reached the nursing home and Ants was totally incapable of walking so I raced in and grabbed a wheelchair and eventually got him into his room, then grabbed two nurses to help him into the toilet, and said a much quicker goodbye than usual.

Why didn’t I just respond to Anthony’s “she wants to get rid of me” comment with laughter? Why did I let myself be hurt? I am such an idiot! He and I have always bantered, so why didn’t I just turn his comment into an excuse for laughter? Well, I will next time, for sure, because these hurtful comments are becoming more regular, so I have to find a way of transforming these faltering conversations into some coherent laughter – yes!

Laughter is a gift that everyone is capable of doing, giving and receiving and it is my favourite thing in the world so, from now on, no matter what, laughter will be my/our medicine.



Motherhood 2 (a funny story)

The three people I see most of are Anthony, my mother and Ming of course. For some reason I sometimes get their names confused, as if they are identical triplets or something. So I will often call Ming ‘Ants’ and vice versa, but I have also called Ants ‘Mother’ a few times and called my mother ‘Ming’. Do other people do this?

Anyway, last night, just before Ming went off to his shed to go to bed, he gave me a big hug and I said, “You are such a beautiful son,” and he said, “That’s because I’m your mum.”

Obviously he’d meant to say, “That’s because you’re my mum,” but he got the words the wrong way around just like I get the names the wrong way around.

After we stopped laughing hysterically, he left for his shed and, hearing his footsteps outside my office door, I shouted, “G’night Mummy!” and he shouted back, “G’night, darling!”

Still laughing about it!


Just for the record

Yesterday I wrote about accidentally slamming the taxi door on the taxi driver’s foot. Today I find myself rather anxious about this foot and every time the phone rings I am scared it might be the taxi company suing me for assault, or the police arresting me for battery.

So, just in case either of those two things happen, I thought I would record here exactly what occurred during the foot-slamming incident. After all, detailed documentation might be required if the taxi driver’s toes are injured.

I said goodbye to Anthony and the taxi driver over the roar of the wheelchair taxi’s engine, then, as I was standing next to the taxi driver’s door, and he was seated in his driver’s seat (I thought), I politely closed his door.

Now this is when things are a bit of a blur. You see, the door just wouldn’t close. I kept trying (I think it was about three times), before I realized that the taxi driver was trying to tell me something over the noise of the engine. So I gave the stupid door a final shove and that is when I unintentionally slammed the taxi driver’s foot and his words finally soared above the engine noise.

He said, OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW, turned the engine off and pointed to his foot which was wedged crookedly half inside and half outside the taxi.

I then poured a fountain of apologies on him and he forgave me and reassured me that taxi drivers always wear protective boots.

So that’s for the record.

What isn’t on the record is that I seem unable to stop laughing!


Anthony’s acceptance

pea 181pea 188

One of the most difficult things about Anthony moving into the nursing lodge has been accepting this dramatic change.

Ming (now 19) was the first to accept this change willingly, whereas it took me nearly a year and mine was an unwilling acceptance laced with grief and guilt.

Anthony’s own acceptance has taken longer but yesterday it just happened and I am so relieved. This is how:

I booked the wheelchair taxi to pick Ants up from the nursing lodge at 2pm, then I rang his nephew who lives around the corner, and left a message that Ants would be home for a few hours.

Then, at 2.30pm, the nephew rang to say Ants was at their place! Apparently Anthony had convinced the taxi driver that our address was wrong and directed him to go to the nephew’s!

By the time the rather flustered taxi driver arrived here (around 2.45pm) I was in such fits of laughter that I could hardly speak as he got Ants out of the taxi. I hugged Ants, still spluttering with hilarity, so much so that Ming took over wheeling Ants to the front veranda while I paid the taxi driver who was now laughing too.

Okay, frivolity aside, the bemused taxi driver left, Ming went to milk the cows and Ants and I shared a beer and some snacks I had painstakingly prepared (chips). Here is our conversation:

Ants: It’s good to be home.
Me: So why did you go to the nephew’s?
Ants: I got mixed up.
Me: Yeah, you have a bit of dementia now.
Ants: I thought so. Am I staying the night?
Me: No!
Ants: Why?
Me: Because, Ants, you are too sick, I can’t lift you, and you need nursing care. How many times do we have to have this discussion? You have to accept it Ants – please!
Ants: You’re right.
Me: What?
Ants: You’re right.
Me: Okay, so the wheelchair taxi is coming to take you back in a few hours. Are you okay with that?
Ants: Yes, Jules (winking).

We then shared another beer, laughed again about the taxi mishap (well, I laughed and Ants looked at me as if I were crazy), then he began to droop badly and agreed to get the taxi earlier.


PS. I’m off on my bike to tackle the road now!


When the carer gets sick

Even though Anthony is now being cared for in the nursing lodge, and I am no longer physically exhausted, the emotional exhaustion has been a force to reckoned with and I seem to be susceptible to any flubug doing the rounds. I just rang and asked the head nurse if I could visit today but she said no because of my flu – understandable. But I haven’t seen Ants for 3 days now and he is as forlorn as I am about this.

The first time I succumbed badly to a flu was a few years ago when Ants was still at home, Ming was still at school and I was still working. That was the beginning of the end of the way we were. I ended up in intensive care, with very bad asthma and exhausted. I had to take leave from work, we got more home nursing help and Ming began to take over some of the night shifts looking after Ants – toiletting, turning him over etc.

It soon became obvious that I would not be able to go back to work in my usual capacity because I couldn’t leave Ants alone. On several occasions I would come back from dropping Ming off at the busstop, or from the local shop, to find Anthony had fallen.

My job allowed me to continue to teach online and I threw myself into this with gusto but the night shifts continued to take their toll and I got sick again, and again.

It’s just flu and no big deal but I wonder why and how I could still be so fatigued when I am no longer working, no longer up all night and when I feel so positive. The only thing I can put it down to is a slowly breaking heart.

I know exactly how to remedy this because I have decided that this year will be full of laughter no matter what.

Carers get sick too and this is the trouble. So if you are a carer, look after yourself. I always hated it when people said this to me but now I understand.



Oh I just can’t stop laughing – I keep bursting into guffaws because of three things:

1. My BFF emailed me twice today to complain that he was getting bombarded with email notifications of my work-in-progress romance novel. His emails are shrill with angst and outrage to have such tripe enter his inbox. I have, of course, apologized and tried to eradicate him from the ‘list’ to no avail. We are having lunch in a couple of weeks so hopefully we can fix this but, in the meantime, I’m quite enjoying torturing him – ha!

2. In the romance novel that I’m editing and revising on the other blog, I thought it best to change Matt’s name to Bob. That’s because, when writing the first draft of this novel last century, I didn’t know a Matt. So now that I do know a real Matt, I thought it best to use that editorial ‘replace’ thing to get Bob into the story. The trouble is that every single time the word ‘matter’ comes up in the novel (with surprising frequency) it gets altered automatically to ‘Bober’ – do you see what I mean?

3. Then, tonight, around an hour ago, I rang and spoke to Anthony and he said, “When am I going to see you?” Argh!

That’s okay. It is fine and he is fine enough now and will probably sleep really well tonight after today’s ordeal.

Me – I am going to laugh myself to sleep!



Who is God?

Is God a she or a he or an  it?

What religion does God subscribe to?

Maybe God has become an atheist?

Why does God help some but not others?

Where does God go when your soul is severed?

Where does God go when the children suffer?

I want God so much.

I see, hear and touch God in the dewdrops, the birdsongs, the kiss of breeze, and my son’s laughter.

But that isn’t enough because the dew dries, the birds go silent, the breeze turns into a dusty wind, and my son’s laughter dies on the cusp of a punch-line I wasn’t quick enough for.

Who is God?

Why does God let us win at chess but lose at checkers?

I don’t understand what is going on.

The God I was brought up to believe in was a loving God, but that doesn’t make sense any more.

Yes, yes, yes, I know – it is all our fault, we poor stupid humans – we definitely stuffed up bigtime.

So why didn’t God rescue us from our follies?

Why didn’t God stop it all and begin again?

Who is God?

Where is God?

What is God?


I love you, God.


Taxi adventures

The day had become unexpectedly hot by the time the wheelchair taxi arrived with Anthony at noon. I rushed out and said hi to him through the taxi window and then stood waiting for him to be manoeuvered out of the back of the taxi but it was taking such a long time that I ran out to the yards and let all the poultry out. When I got back to the taxi, I realized why it was taking the driver so long to get Ants out; he wasn’t in a wheelchair!

Grrrrr! As the taxi driver and I tried to get a very immobile Anthony to use his walker to take the few steps onto the electronic ramp thing at the back of the taxi, I exclaimed a little to Ants and the driver about the lack of a wheelchair and the driver couldn’t understand why the nurses hadn’t put him in one either. (I found out later that Ants had refused).

Anyway, despite this, Ming and I managed to get Ants to an outside table where we all ate lunch. Ming was sullen, Ants was silent and slumpy and I was hot and bothered. Oh well, the corned beef and salad was a success. Eventually it got too hot outside so Ants came inside (he had recovered his mobility) and we had a cup of tea in the kitchen where a couple of attempts at conversation were hampered by Anthony’s  rather mumbly incoherence. But. yes, it was evident that he was happy to be home.  Then Ming decided to put on an episode of Wooster and Jeeves (he had recovered his humour) and I left the two boys to it because, when all three of us are together, there is now a new tension. I happily withdrew to do the dishes and hang out the washing.

I could hear Ming’s laughter but not Anthony’s as he has forgotten how to laugh of course. because of the rotten PDD. He used to absolutely crack up at this show – and that was only a year ago. At one point I heard Ming, yell out (not unkindly) “C’mon, Dad, have a laugh!”

Then I had to ring the taxi people to change the booking from a wheelchair taxi to a sedan to take Anthony back to the nursing lodge. Ming soon went off to milk the cows and I watched some of the show with Ants, then reminded him that the taxi would be coming soon. He immediately became despondent and demanding that he should be able to try staying overnight and, for the millionth time, I explained that I could not manage him in the nights because he was too heavy and we almost had an argument. Then the taxi arrived and I helped Anthony out and he walked using his home walking stick and shrugged my hand away in this new nasty way he has developed.

The taxi driver was someone we hadn’t met before and, when I explained about the wheelchair taxi mixup he did what many people do and said, “This bloke doesn’t need a wheelchair – look at him. He’s fine!” And Anthony said, bitterly, “Some people don’t think so.” Of course the taxi driver could see that Anthony wasn’t fine at all but he was being kind to Ants and I appreciate that. However, this kind of remark is really unhelpful when you have just tried to explain to someone that they are in a nursing lodge because they are not fine. Argh!

Then a very funny thing happened. I was trying to fold up Anthony’s walker and in order to do so I had to remove the basket. The taxi driver, being a gentleman, offered to help and leaned forward to take the walker and somehow the basket, that I was holding in my other hand, got caught in his fly (you know the front zipper of jeans). The trouble is, I didn’t know this because I was looking at Anthony, so I was tugging at the basket, not realizing it had hooked itself into this man’s fly. It was only when he yelped that I saw what was going on and I quickly let go of the basket so that he could untangle himself and then I nearly collapsed in hysterical, apologetic laughter. And then I just could not stop laughing – as I was saying goodbye to Ants, as I was paying the fare – it just kept bubbling up and out of me and the taxi driver was laughing his head off too.

As I said one last goodbye to Ants, the laughter hit me again and I buried my guffaws into his chest as I hugged him, then pulled away to see if he might be smiling. He just looked at me with his shark eyes before they zoomed off.

He has forgotten how to laugh.

Well, I haven’t!



Despair came to visit today even though I had already told it to go way so many times and thought it had finally given up. It knocks on the door a lot and I ignore it and feel safe because the door is locked. But today, it picked the lock and broke in and, whammo, smashed me just as I was putting the kettle on. And when I fell down, it kicked me and kicked me until I begged it to stop, to please go away. It stopped kicking me but it didn’t go away.

So that was a few hours ago and I have since gotten up, washed the tears off my face and am now developing a plan of how to get rid of it because it’s sitting in the living room, waiting. Do I play the waiting game too and hope, in time, it will give up and go away? Or do I go into the living room and confront it. Despair has the advantage of course because it stopped me from doing all of the things I wanted to do today by snaking its way into my conversations with my son and non-conversations with my husband. It burned the kettle dry and whipped the wind up to blow all of the clean clothes off the line and into the dust of the driveway.

It’s pretty clever, this despair, because it has positioned itself in the middle of the house and created a sort of dividing line between my son’s room and my office, so every time he and I have tried to have a chat, it whips into the conversation and, with incredible skill, turns all the good words into corpses, turns our blue eyes black and laughs derisively when we both slam our doors and give up.

The trouble with banishing despair is that it might simply go somewhere else and inflict itself on someone else, so I have to figure out how to kill it. It has never been so presumptuous before, never made itself so at home before and, when I last sneaked a peek, it was dozing comfortably in the living room, waiting. Waiting for what though? Is it waiting for another mother/son argument, for another wife/husband disappointment, for another bird to be killed by the fox, for another glass of my tears?

How will I kill it before it kills me? I know it hates me laughing because once I saw it shrivel when I laughed. And I know it hates me loving because once I saw it vomit when I hugged Ming and Ants at the same time so maybe I can kill it with more laughter, with more love. But somehow I don’t think that will be enough. After all, this despair has already been able to permeate all of our laughter and love with little drops of dead fly poison.

I wish I had the solution to this predicament.