Tag Archives: nablopomo

NaBloPoMo (or, um, what?)

4 Sep

Hey! So I decided to do this. I dunno, I am kind of worried that I won’t be able to keep up and/or will get bored, but I am going to give it a shot.

Here’s today’s prompt:

Monday, September 3, 2012
Write about one object you see at this exact moment.

There are two ceramic pomegranates on a shelf in my dining room. I saw them in a store window a few months ago and impulsively ran in to buy them. They’re sort of a deep orangey-red, and just big enough to hold cradled in both hands, which I like to do.

I’m a little embarrassed by how much I love them.

When my grandfather found out he was dying, he didn’t want anyone to know. My father found out by overhearing a conversation between my grandmother and grandfather, and he told my aunt. Nobody told me until four days before my grandfather’s death. It was Hallowe’en, and my parents told us at dinner. My mother started crying into her Betty Crocker instant mashed potatoes. My sisters quickly followed suit. I was 17 and felt like if I had to stay in that house one more minute, I was going to suffocate. Well. That’s 17 for you.

My father and I flew to Nova Scotia for the funeral. The next few days were and endless parade of family-family-family, but I didn’t mind. Every night was a sort of wake for my Grampy, full of funny and endearing stories. There was plenty of wine and no one cared if I drank, even if I was underage. Away from my mother and sisters, I felt like I was being treated like an adult, for once.

A particular story that stood out to me that weekend was one that my Aunt Carolyn told. It wasn’t much, maybe not even a story – an anecdote, perhaps, or just a quick mention. She talked about coming to see my Grampy one day, shortly before he died, and how she brought him a pomegranate. She sat with him and they ate it together. It was the last fruit my Grampy ever had, she said.

If there was anyone who would understand the symbolic significance of a pomegranate, it’s my aunt. She has her PhD in Egyptology and is, of course, well-versed in all classical mythology. I even remember her telling me the story of Persephone and Hades; we were on a long family car trip and I kept begging her to tell me stories (I also kept begging her to lend me her walkman so that I could listen to Queen sing Fat Bottomed Girls). I remember being shocked that such a small act as eating a few pomegranate seeds could condemn you to spending half the year in Hell.

When I was young, I thought Carolyn was the most fascinating person in the history of ever. Her apartment was thick with the smell of incense, and she had so many books. She was beautiful, all big dark eyes and deep red hair, and funny in a way that my parents never were. She talked to me like I was a grown up, which I adored. Sometimes, when we went out in public, people thought that I was her daughter. The thought that people might think she was my mother made me blush with delight.

She taught me Egyptian hieroglyphics, and gave me a book of Egyptian myths. My father would read them to me as bedtime stories and later, after he’d left my bedroom, I would hide under the covers and pray to their dusty old gods. Isis, I would whisper, Horus, Bastet, Sekhmet, Hathor, Osiris, Ra. I figured that no one had talked to them for so long that they would be willing to give me anything I asked for. I figured they would just be happy to have someone praying to them again.

Carolyn gave me Gardner’s Egyptian Grammar, a giant tome whose main use to me has been pressing flowers. Still, I’ve carried it around with me like a talisman, hauling it from Kitchener to Halifax, then finally to Toronto. I doubt I’ll ever read it, but it’s still on my bookshelf, and it probably always will be.

I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that whenever I look at these ceramic pomegranates, that whole world unfolds for me again: my grandfather, my aunt, old books and even older gods, the smell of incense and the dim lighting in my aunt’s many apartments. Her whole exotic world that I was, occasionally, able to step into.

Everyone should have an Aunt Carolyn.