wings and things

Last Christmas

Last Christmas, my husband, Anthony, was still living here at home. This year, on Christmas day, he will be visiting for a few hours via a wheelchair taxi and then going back to the nursing lodge. I am having a very hard time accepting the reality of what has transpired over the year – Anthony’s deterioration with Parkinson’s disease, Ming’s spinal surgery, me having to resign from my job as a university lecturer, and a whole lot of other stuff.

Tonight, Ming (nearly 19) saw me struggling with my seemingly endless grief and told me that he was scared – scared that I was totally ‘losing it’. That made me cry even more until he said, “Mum, please just let me in, let me help, we only have each other.” Then he vacuumed the inside veranda, cleaned the microwave and refrigerator, hung out the washing and sang one of the songs he wrote this year – You and me, cup of tea – while he was doing all of this.

I have never understood the term ‘griefstricken’ until now – not just my own, but others’ of course. And now I have the flu and am feeling sorry for myself while parents are grieving beyond any grief imaginable. I can’t say any more about this because I don’t feel I have the right to intrude on the already-trampled privacy of the griefstricken.

This will probably be Anthony’s last Christmas.



Okami always has an expression of absolute contentment in his eyes.

Uluru, on the other hand, always looks totally freaked out!

Both alpacas blink.

I never realized how much eyes could convey in terms of emotion until my husband, Anthony, stopped blinking. I didn’t know he’d stopped blinking and that this was sometimes one of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. It wasn’t until we first saw a neurologist, who did some hand/eye/leg coordination tests, that this inability to blink was pointed out. The neurologist had a rather dry sense of humour and said to me, “You thought he was getting moody, didn’t you.” When I nodded, he said, “When someone doesn’t blink, they may appear to be angry or sad.” I looked at Anthony who looked back at me with a small, uneasy smile, his eyes unblinking. “So, do I have Parkinson’s Disease?” he asked the neurologist. “Yes, I believe you do,” said the neurologist.

As I drove us home that day – so many years ago now – Anthony stared out of the window and I blinked back tears, but we talked it through and decided to do the only thing we could do which was to take things one day at a time.

Keep blinking if you can.


The girl with the bleeding eye

About twice a week, during the night, Husband used to see the girl with the bleeding eye. She was always lying on her back in the single bed adjacent to his, even though that’s where I sleep now. Her left eye spurted blood in a projectile way, up towards the ceiling, then – like a waterfall in slow motion – fell, the droplets somehow evaporating before they reached the white counterpane underneath which she lay silently.

Husband used to say that this particular hallucination didn’t bother him because he knew that the girl with the bleeding eye wasn’t really there.

“What do you do when you see her?”

“I say hello.”

“What does she do?”

“She just smiles and the bleeding stops.”

BTW hallucinations are often a symptom of Parkinson’s disease and/or (paradoxically) the medications used to treat this condition. Husband has developed an heroic ability to dismiss his hallucinations as hallucinations. He’s become clever at telling the difference.

Husband also knew, from when we first got him, that Tina Turner was not a hen, but a rooster!