To read the hand written letter, click here: Jude Letter 5
Sunday 18 March
It seems no sooner had I dispatched a letter to you, another arrives from you hot on the heels of your previous letter.
I must apologise in the delay to responding, but I am sure you will understand the reasons behind it. My father had a stroke earlier in the week. Rebecca and I have been in and out of the hospital all week. My sister is arriving tomorrow to help out.
It was a mild stroke but Dad’s lost a bit of speech and some mobility. I’m sitting beside his hospital bed at the moment while he takes a nap. This morning I read the paper to him, in particular the footy scores and the results from the cricket. He was pretty chuffed Australia beat the Windies and Tendulkar scored his 100th century.
Hospitals are a time vortex. Inside the walls time stands still while outside the world continues oblivious to what’s happening to you. Rebecca and I have been in and out with Mum for the better part of a week. Everything stops and all you can do is think. Thinking is a dangerous business; it can lead to all sorts of things. Right now all I can think of is how Mum will cope. It was only last weekend when were over at their place for lunch. The kids were running around outside and the 4 of us were at the table playing hands of 500.
The kids are a little confused. Trying to explain the medical side is useless; all they know is Poppy is sick and he now talks funny and dribbles from the side of his mouth.
The colour and pallor of his face has changed. The ruddiness from working in the yard has turned yellowish and his hair is less ‘fluffy’ white, more coarse strands of wire. I’m hoping some fresh air and sunlight can bring the warmth back. He is so independent and this stroke is giving him the shits. No longer is he in control of his mind or his body.
And I feel helpless. Twenty years ago I felt helpless to help you and all those feelings have returned. The best I can do is be the point of reference, the anchor for people to be secured to.
Looks like Dad’s waking up. I’ll pick up again later.
Dad’s a funny old bugger. He wakes up, sees me writing and says, “Got a new girlfriend have you? The last time I saw you writing was when you were in high school. You kept Australia Post going.”
Told him with a great deal of irony that I was writing to you, twenty years later. I filled him in briefly. He was quiet for a while then leaned over, almost conspiratorially and said, “You always did the right thing by Ella-Louise. And I knew you fancied her. It wasn’t hard to figure out.”
Gee, thanks Dad for making me feel like a teenager again. And speaking of being a teenager again, I remember that holiday in Sydney at your Nan’s. It was probably the only time our crushes synced up but we never got to consummate it.
And sorry for the snoring. It hasn’t got any better. One night soon after Rebecca and I were married my snoring drove her out of the room. From the doorway she lobbed a cushion at me. It landed smack on my face. I didn’t stir and Rebecca was afraid I’d ingest the cushion.
That holiday also raised the question of to flush or not to flush. Night-time bathroom visits always presented me with a conundrum: do the right thing and flush the toilet and risk waking people or not flush and let the yellow mellow. For the first few nights I held off until my bladder got the best of me. Still baffled by the protocol.
I don’t remember our Top 5 places to visit except Brisbane and Ayers Rock/Uluru because it was so far from the ocean. Still haven’t been there but I’ll get there one day.
Your Nan kept the lattice bed? The most uncomfortable thing ever! For the first few hours it’s ok but then the ribbing finds the spaces between your ribs and pelvis and wedges itself into your kidneys.
Lying in the lattice bed one night with you curled into me, I asked you if you were ever going to smell of lavender talcum powder when you became as old as your Nan. You punched me and said only if I wore Old Spice. Funny how things swing around again.
Nestled with you on the bed was safe and comforting. The first time you snuck into my bed I was a little surprised. I was half asleep. I felt you slip in and the warmth of your body still radiated from your skin after being out for the day on an unseasonably warm Easter. My body betrayed me by giving me an erection I tried to hide. You had to have felt it but thankfully you never said anything about it. We were intimate as we could be without the physicality. Emotionally and spiritually and certainly verbally we were united.
Then one night, towards the end, you slipped into my bed. I ran my hand over your back, drawing you into an embrace, and noticed you were not wearing your bra. My teenage mind went berserk knowing there was only 2 thin pieces of cotton between us. As we talked in hushed whispers, my fingers found the gap between your t-shirt and shorts. The touch of your skin made me feel electric. I wanted to slide my hand up the back of your t-shirt and feel the curve of your spine; to raise your shirt and mine and to feel your breasts against my chest. It may have happened if your Nan hadn’t gone to the bathroom and you scooted back in case she checked on you.
Not that I was hoping to end up naked and what not but perhaps to extend another level of protection and intimacy.
Back at school my mates reckoned we ‘did it’ despite my protests to the contrary. Adrian kept asking if I ‘got any’ or at the very least a grope or two. After seeing the inside of their folders, I knew they wouldn’t understand what we had. They were all about the boobs and bums.
Been on a bit of a U2 fix for a while I’ve been writing. We were in Year 11 or 12 when Achtung Baby came out. It reminded me of the lantern festival here in town. Last year I went up to The Point and watched the fishing trawlers head out past the bay and release little floating lanterns for all the sailors and fishermen. The pinpoints of light looked like a reflection of the stars. From the oval people had released little balloon lanterns.
From my seat up on The Point, I imagined them as the souls of the forgotten or prayers for the lost to guide them home.
Am I that light for you? The North Star or Southern Cross to guide you home? As you said, things have changed, but perhaps you can begin the resolution of your past beginning with your Nan and her belongings.
What caused you to run for all those years? Each letter reveals another piece of a puzzle you are trying to solve, although I suspect the picture on the box is not the same as the picture you imagine.
I will light a candle for you, help guide you home.
Fair winds and fair weather.
Always and ever,