jmgoyder

wings and things

Green juice adventures

I am a lover of green juice – a devotee, a fan, an advocate! The idea of green juice is what wakes me up in the morning, what keeps me going during the day and what EXHAUSTS me in the afternoon/early evening. Why the latter? Because I make it myself.

Let me explain the process in detail. I’ll even include a timeline.

3pm: Go out to your luscious vegetable garden and try to ignore the 35 degree heat.

3.05pm: Go back to the house to get a hat, a sweat band, and a container into which you can place your freshly harvested greens, and try to ignore the flies in your nostrils, the ants between your toes, and the possibility of a snake in your vegetable forest.

3.10pm: Once you have found your garden scissors (this may take awhile, so try to remember to remind yourself to always put them in the same place so that you don’t have to dig the entire garden up looking for them), begin to harvest your amazing produce.

3.30pm: Try not be too alarmed by the fact that all of your spinach and all of your celery plants have somehow become trees. This is because you haven’t been out to the garden for some time, but don’t feel guilty; after all, it’s hot, dirty and insecty out there. Just cut a few branches off the spinach and celery trees.

4.15pm: Take your container of beautiful green vegetables to the wash house and plunge them into a sink of cold water. If they won’t all fit, take some of the smaller greens into the kitchen and do the same. Have a little rest.

4.30pm: Cut up some apples and carrots and a bit of ginger. Put these into a big bowl with the washed greens from the kitchen sink. Make sure your wonderful cold press juicer is responding to electricity and BEGIN juicing!

5pm: Don’t be upset if you forgot to change out of your white shirt; green is a lovely colour!

5.05pm: Pour the results of this exciting process into the bottles you have waiting-and-ready for the wonderfulness of this green juice and put them straight into the refrigerator. Try not to think about the recent theory that if you don’t drink freshly pressed juice immediately, it won’t ‘work’. Allow yourself a few sips of the elixir and feel the surge of energy this provides you with. You will need this energy because now you have to clean the juicer.

6pm: Now that you have washed and rinsed the many parts of the amazing juicer you bought online, have a little rest again. You may indulge in a little green juice (delicious!)

6.30pm: If you are struggling to reassemble the juicer for tomorrow, you may open a bottle of wine. A single glass of this kind of juice can help immensely as you perform this semi-final task. Try not to panic if the top bit doesn’t quite screw into the middle bit of the bottom bit of the juicer. Instead, use this experience as a kind of meditation. If moments become minutes and minutes become, well, hours, you can either call on someone to help you, or just do that whole breathing thing until the juicer is ready for use again. Do NOT swear at the various parts of the juicer that won’t cooperate immediately; do NOT send an angry email to the manufacturers (because they did their very best and, after all, this is a very superior juicer); and, above all, do not give up on loving the green juice!

7pm: The last stage of this green juice adventure is the most challenging; force your son and husband to drink it. If your son says that there is a bit of grit in it, just smile calmly; if your husband spits it out, try not to be offended. You did your best.

And all of that leftover green juice is yours!

20 Comments »

Dress rehearsal

It’s now been a bit over a month since I thought Anthony was on the brink of death. In the space of a couple of days, he had suddenly become unable to chew and swallow food in the ordinary way, and, on two occasions, had been unconscious for several hours.

The fact that these two ‘end-stage’ things happened in a matter of days convinced me that Ants was definitely on the way out – soon. I was catapulted into action, messaging family members, making appointments with funeral directors, our lawyer, meeting with my best friend, the Anglican priest who blessed Anthony with the last rites, picking songs for the funeral, and asking nearly 20 people to be pallbearers ….

And then, as my new friend Moira described it, Anthony “did a Lazarus”. Okay, so that is all very well and I am glad, but the panicked anxiety and anticipatory grief I felt during that week has left a bitter taste in my brain. I feel as if I have been tricked, deceived; here I am all ready for Anthony’s death but the joke is on me because he is still beautifully alive, holding my hand and watching a movie with my mother and me… today.

Ming, our son, our one child, always gives good, sensible, pragmatic advice to me. He is an absolute rock of a person and has had to cope with Anthony not recognising him several times recently. Ming is philosophical about this because he already knows how dementia works.

No dress rehearsal prepares anybody for the death of a loved one.

 

19 Comments »

Caring for the carer

I am on the brink of facilitating a couple of carer support meetings, so I thought this would be a good place to air some of my thoughts beforehand.

Carers/care-givers – who care for and/or about loved ones who suffer from diseases like Dementia – are, according to the latest research findings, amongst the loneliest people in western society. The loneliest people are, of course, those with Dementia, especially those in care, like my husband, Anthony.

I have always loved being alone and am comfortable with solitariness. I am not naturally gregarious but I do enjoy the company of friends. Until recently, I have never actually felt lonely, but now I do – acutely. I miss Anthony being home with me, with Ming, milking the cows, chopping firewood, lighting the Aga, cooking steak on the barbecue, washing the car, watching ‘The Bill’, snuggling up in the big bed with toddler Ming in the middle.

But these memories are now nearly two decades old. More recent memories are stark with the years of frustration, avoidance, anger, sorrow, exhaustion – mine mostly. Having to quit my job in order to take my husband to the toilet, to stop him from falling over, to hide the car keys so he wouldn’t try to drive, to turn taps off that he’d left running, to open the vegemite jar when he couldn’t….

For awhile Ants and I hid what was going on from little Ming but it wasn’t long before Ming had to help out. I became so exhausted that I ended up in hospital and after that Ming and I shared the night shifts with Anthony.

And then – years later – the nursing home decision, the subsequent paradox of guilt and relief and now – more years later – the ongoing grief and loneliness. I miss him so much!

I am very glad to have the opportunity to facilitate these carer support groups because I have developed a few ways of coping better than I used to. Until I became involved, as a volunteer, with these groups, I had no idea that there might be some support for carers out there somewhere. If I can be a part of this, I will be so glad!

 

 

17 Comments »

Galah!

Today Anthony was perky, lucid, vocal and even sarcastic!

I had picked a double camellia bloom from our favourite tree but forgot to take a photo (sorry, flower-lovers!)

Well, he loved it but its stem was too short so one of the carers brought a bowl in so we could somehow keep it alive until tomorrow. There were many admiring exclamations from staff and I felt quite the gardener – ha! On this first day of Spring, there will be many more blooms and I will take them in every day because it gives Anthony such delight.

My mother, Meg, visited this afternoon and she, too, admired the double bloom.

Meg: This is a potentially prize-winning flower, Anthony!

Anthony: Yes.

Me: Ants, it’s my tree – remember? I paid a small fortune for that tree!

Anthony: Yes, but I nurtured and loved it.

Meg: I think God created it but did you have a hand in it too?

Anthony (smiling): Yes.

Me: I’m the one with the foresight to buy a rare tree!

Anthony is silent.

Me: Have I upset you, Ants?

Anthony: No, but you are irritating me.

A lot of banter followed this, then my mother went home. I put the food channel on for Ants and, as usual, pretended to go shopping for chocolate or blue cheese, saying I would be back later.

So, after a very panicky few weeks where I thought Anthony was on the brink of death, he has now come back to life it would seem. Surreal! How does this happen? It is beautifully scary but so disconcerting.

The last thing he said to me as I left this afternoon was “You are such a galah, Jules!”

Yep, I agree!

 

 

 

 

14 Comments »

Incoherence

Anthony can’t find or utter the words any more and this is terribly frustrating for him, and for Ming and me. He was much more awake today than he has been for the last week, so I felt a bit silly to have thought/written that he might be on the brink of death. Last year I was terribly angry with a relative who suggested this and now it’s me thinking the same thing, almost a year later.

I am shocked at how, within the space of a week, Anthony has developed dysphagia to the extent that he has difficulty in swallowing even vitamised food, and can hardly speak any more. It is the latter that is most upsetting for me because of how much I have always enjoyed our conversations, no matter how bizarre.

If Anthony stops speaking altogether, I will have to become more creative in what I say to him. The blog will help, photos of the farm will help, Ming references will help, memories will help.

I know that Anthony’s incoherence will soon become a silence that I may not know how to read and this worries me.

Me: I love you, Ants.

Anthony: ….

Me: You’re supposed to say it back!

Anthony: I love you, Jules.

 

 

 

 

21 Comments »

Love and laughter

I think if I had to choose between love and laughter in a relationship, I would choose laughter. Obviously, having both is ideal but love can be so heavy sometimes, whereas laughter is light.

Today, Anthony was in great form and when I arrived he was participating in a game of coits during “gentle gym”. I joined the game by his side and Kaye (pseudonym), one of the OTs, was running things and she is such a fun-loving compassionate person, she made Anthony feel good about himself despite his bad score! Many of the residents were, like Ants, wheelchair-bound, and couldn’t really throw the coits but it was still fun and there were a lot of laughs. I think I will make a point of going to these sessions regularly because it was obvious that Ants was thrilled I was there.

Later, in his room, once he was settled back into his armchair, we had the following conversation (he has been extremely vocal lately – just when I was getting used to his silence).

Ants: I haven’t seen you for awhile.
Me: What a lot of rubbish! I saw you the day before yesterday!
Ants: No, it was the day before the day before yesterday [accurate!]
Me: So are we heading for an argument?
Ants: No, but sometimes I think you have run off with another man.
Me: How ridiculous! Why would I do that when I adore you so much?
Ants: I’m not sure you do anymore.
Me: Okay now listen to me, you idiot. It’s not all about you. Sometimes I need a break and sometimes I need to do other stuff.
Ants: Like what?
Me: Laundry, housework, cooking, Ming.
Ants: So where will you be tonight?
Me: At home of course.
Ants: Where is that?
Me: Bythorne [the name of our farm]
Ants: Bythorne? [looking very surprised]
Me: Yes, silly!

The conversation meandered over the few hours I was there, but here is another excerpt in response to a cooking show on television:

Me: Look at that roast duck!
Ants: Beautiful.
Me: That guy has cooked it slowly for over three hours.
Ants: Too long.
Me: Yeah, but it looks perfect, Ants!
Ants: You have a point. When are you going to cook it?
Me: Actually, that’s a great idea but I need to get the Aga going first.
Ants: I lit it the other day but we need more kerosene.
Me: I am ordering some next week.
Ants: Isn’t the grass green [looking at the wall]
Me: Yes, it’s wonderful.
Ants: Do you want me to light the fireplace? [trying to get up – impossible]
Me: No, Ming’s already done it.
Ants: He’s a good son isn’t he.
Me: He’s a great son.

And, as I was leaving:

Me: I have to go now to get some groceries.
Ants: But every time I let you go, you don’t come back until the next day.
Me: But I do come back! I love you so much, Ants.
Ants: I don’t love you as much now.
Me: What? Why? How dare you! [tickling him]
Ants: Because you keep leaving me and I don’t know where Mum is.
Me: Argh! Ants, we are in a nursing home and you are in good hands. You have Parkinson’s disease and I have to go and get some groceries! Get with it! I’ll see you tomorrow.

Okay, so all of the above was love-driven but it was the hilarious laughter and smiles we both shared that made these poignant and bittersweet conversations absolutely wonderful. It was one of the best days Ants and I have had for ages.

The love hurts, but the laughter heals.

12 Comments »

Bump on the head!

A few days ago, I bumped my head rather dramatically. I’d stooped to pick up some clothes from the bathroom floor and stood up suddenly, forgetting to avoid the corner of the towel cupboard which is positioned above the sink. SMASH!

The lump on my head was massive to begin with, literally the size of a goose egg, but it has now shrunk to the size of a golf ball. When I had my hair cut the other day, my hairdresser was extremely impressed. She showed me the lump in a mirror and  described the bruising around the lump in rather gruesome detail. Obviously, she had to be really careful attending to my hair.

Yesterday I must have been having one of those attention-seeking days because I kept getting the nursing staff to feel my lump. I did the same thing this morning and got the same ‘ooh-ahh!’ response from various staff which was, of course, very satisfying.

The only two people who were unfazed (and remarkably unsympathetic) were Ants and Ming.

Ming: Get over it, Mum; it’s just a bump on the head!

Anthony: You need to be careful, Jules, you’re not a spring chicken anymore.

Anyway, since bumping my head, I have been really slack with both the writing and the reading of blog posts. I have also become  quite slack with cooking, cleaning, gardening, anythinging, but have also become adept at sleeping and watching netflix. Having armed myself with a fitbit a couple of weeks ago (between the asthma and the head bumping) it has been a bit discouraging to find that I have only walked about eight kilometres in as many days.

Once the lump from the bump subsides, I hope to become a more active blogger again but, in the meantime, I have a bit of a headache.

 

 

 

24 Comments »

Asthma 2

Okay so  six days ago I found the prednisolone  tablets I had last taken in 2013. Back then, I wrote some notes about how to combat an asthma attack with what is sometimes called a “steroid burst.” My instructions to myself were to take 100 mgs per day for five days then stop so that my body’s immunity could kick in. It is now day 6 and I know that in a couple of days I will be okay again; in fact I already feel okay – phew!

My instructions to myself also included things about not panicking, not re-living my childhood asthma, not worrying my friends and family unduly, not giving into fear and, importantly, getting fit and healthy again.

When Ming said to me the other day, “when will we not be sad, Mum?” I didn’t have an answer. I scrambled in my mind for an answer but couldn’t find one. I suddenly realised how my sorrow and grief about Anthony’s slow demise was affecting Ming. And I stopped breathing normally; hence the asthma?

This 22-year-old son of ours is the reason I am once again breathing normally; the asthma is gone; we have talked things through. I no longer need the prednisolone ….

I just need Ming.

 

 

16 Comments »

Trickery

Ming has a new job at a different restaurant but has been called in so often over the last few days that he hasn’t had time to wash the one white shirt and blue apron he was given.

He is not just fiercely independent, he is ferociously independent, so all of my offers to wash these items have been rejected.

But this morning he has gone to Perth by train to pick up a second-hand ute (truck) we’ve bought to replace our old unregistered one. He will be back by noon.

So I have a window of time in which to secretly wash and dry the shirt and the apron (separately of course). The shirt is now nearly dry and the apron is in the washing machine.

Once both items are clean and dry, I will have to fling them onto the chair where Ming left them last night, so that he won’t suspect.

Wish me luck!

21 Comments »

“Ming the Merciless”

During Ming’s last year at high school, all of the kids were allowed to imprint on their grammar school jackets an emblem or phrase that represented who they were. Ming chose “Ming the Merciless”.

And that he is! This week, he mercilessly told me some home truths about how my sadness about Anthony affects him. This has been followed by many lengthy philosophical conversations about a whole lot of topics including life, death, love, loss, grief, acceptance. Occasionally he and I have cried together about our different heartbreaks, comforted each other by just listening, and made plans to get out of our individual ruts.

Ming is not merciless at all. He is the kindest person I have ever known and the way he cares so much about me, and Ants too, is extraordinary in its depth. I think back to all of those nights when Ming slept in the bed next to Anthony’s in order to give me a break from what we called ‘the night shifts’ and I am so grateful for his help, patience, love and comfort.

Now, at 22, this child/man of ours is, understandably, a bit tired of both Anthony and me, but he cares so much that he doesn’t ever want to leave the farm. He gets a lot of peer pressure to ‘get out there’ but he wants to stay put for the time being, work as a waiter, earn some money, and be here for both Ants and me.

And, no matter how many times I tell him that we don’t want him trapped into feeling he has to be here for us, he just reiterates that he loves this home, that he doesn’t want to go anywhere at the moment, that he is content.

Ming is so much like Anthony in this way; Ants knew how to go with the flow, work hard and he had no delusions; he was content with, and proud of, life as a dedicated dairy farmer despite the changes that wreaked havoc with the industry many year ago. I have always admired Anthony’s lackadaisical attitude to life and work and his acceptance of every single ‘whatever’. Ming has this capacity too but he is merciless against himself!

I am so proud of this amazing son of ours – Ming the Merciless!

18 Comments »