(Photo of Talya Tavor)
Papa and the Purple Cloud
In the days leading up to my grandpa’s death, a purple cloud appeared to follow him. Aside from his age, he had been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; the treatments seemed to be working, so we could not predict the meaning of the cloud’s arrival.
I know he was annoyed by the cloud from the beginning. When it first appeared, the size of a palm, it was during a family dinner. I thought it was cute. A little fluff bouncing around the dining room before settling on top of the china cabinet. Papa, the chef of the family, found the cloud’s small bursts of humidity to be a rude dinner interruption, as he believed the moistness to hasten the spoilage of his hard work.
A few days later, I drove to Papa’s apartment after school. When I opened the door, I saw him sitting in his favorite lazy-boy recliner, arms crossed, and frowning. He had just come back from a treatment and without saying a word, he pointed over to the dining room. The cloud was still perched on top of the china cabinet, though now it was the size of a pumpkin, it looked like it was resting.
“It started misting, today,” Papa said in a huff.
I tried to convince him that we should feel lucky this seeming magical being had chosen him as a companion. The cloud seemed to fold itself in a manner which let me know it agreed, but Papa wasn’t convinced. We played rummikub for the rest of the afternoon, I left promising to bring back tarps the next day.
By mid-week, Papa’s entire apartment was covered in plastic. The cloud had grown in both size, and confidence, and had moved on from a mist to a drizzle then finally settled on a steady rain.
“How am I supposed to live like this? This god-damned thing won’t leave me alone!” Papa said between tired bites of a brown sugar flavored pop tart. We were sitting at the dining room table for breakfast, as I decided to skip school that day, holding umbrellas with our free hands. I think he was extra sour because his socks were wet. I offered first for him to come stay with me and Mom, but he refused. We didn’t have a good lazy-boy for him to sleep in, and besides, he could only sleep in his chair anyway. I promised instead to run out and get him some rainboots.
When I got back, I found Papa in his chair, unmoving. The entire apartment felt still, blanketed in fresh snow. The purple cloud, who looked mournful, was sprawled out on the couch next to him. Papa had always loved the snow so I looked to the cloud in thanks.
The cloud disappeared after we buried Papa, I think I was the last to see it. My mom caught it outside the Synagogue during the Mourner’s Kaddish, the cloud was pressed up against a window, a steady rainfall pouring down. My uncle swears he saw it misting over a cousin’s corvette, though that didn’t sound much like the cloud at all. I saw it peeking out from behind a rather large catacomb after we buried Papa. I tried to wave at it, but it ignored me, blowing some of the dirt into Papa’s grave before it, too, wisped away for good.
© Talya Tavor. You can email comments to her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio: Talya Tavor is the lead author of The Campaigns Advocacy Manual, a non-fiction how-to book that teaches anyone how to create and run a progressive campaign. Talya is also a published poet, has released a studio album titled "Tavor" that features her folk and dirty blues singing and songwriting, and she is currently working on her first fiction novel.