Not this soap.  

December 30th, 2013, 2am

I don’t have very many clear images of my Portuguese grandfather. I remember white teeth closing around the end of a cigar, a pipe, cigarettes. He was nicotine and silence, a man constructed more from stories than memories.

He beat his wife and cheated on her. He disliked his children.

Before he died he called and that phone call with him is the only conversation I can recall having with him. He said he wanted to get to know me better, but it was clear there wasn’t enough time for that.

The day I found out he had passed away I painted a picture of his house in the Algarve as I remembered it: white arches, blue sky, one level, but expansive, hidden behind gates, surrounded by roses. When I was done I painted over my painting and then I sat in my parents’ basement staring at the blank canvas, willing myself to be sad.

I sifted through my memories and found they were intertwined with Portugal. He was taciturn, distant and so the landscape filled in the details. He was the burning sun, the red earth, the cork trees.

Recently, I was in Porto. I was in a store, looking at vintage items: soaps and aftershave. I picked up a dark green box, sniffed it and remembered staring at a similar box on my bathroom counter in Mississauga. He had visited once, and after he showered it had smelled like that. Almost like basil.

Mariah said thanks.

Share this moment

Dani Z

The hardest thing about getting older is realizing that I might, in fact, be a minor character in someone else's story. (I keep changing this bio. I'm not sure I'll ever nail it)

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook