Apigian-Kessel: The Postman Always Rings Twice

You don’t have to be a kid to experience the excitement of receiving an unexpected package in the mail. And take my advice, don’t take the postman’s knock at the door for granted. You may just be in for a super surprise. I know I was.

It isn’t even Christmas yet but kind friends have showered me with undeserving gifts of appreciation. And I am relishing every one of them.

A few weeks ago, when there was a knock at the door from express delivery, I ignored it because I was preoccupied with a writing project. I had not ordered anything and thought it was merely a box of replacement parts ordered by my son, which the delivery service customarily leaves on the front porch. Later would be soon enough to retrieve it.

Soon my husband was in the hallway gently nudging a large box toward me with his foot and breaking my concentration with his announcement that the mailing label had my name on it. I wondered to myself: “Does it contain more books from Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian, the prolific local writer and friend whom I greatly admire?”

It wasn’t until the box was close enough and I could read the return address for myself—verifying that indeed this surprise was destined for me—that my eyes grew wide. It was from Las Vegas. You know, the town built on the dream of Bugsy Siegel.

It was from and a longtime AYF unger whose kind and attentive friendship I’ve cherished over the years. It took the strength of the Hulk to cut through the packaging tape and soon I was digging through loads of paper filler in an attempt to reach the contents. A brief handwritten letter included said the contents were in memory of an article I had written long ago about my childhood (and how each autumn my adoring father would, without fail, bring me a beautiful, red pomegranate, or as we say in Armenian noor.)

From the package, one by one two bottles of Armenian wine emerged. One of them was Areni, 2005, a dry red from Vajots Dzor; the other was pomegranate wine with the front label containing modernistic figures designed by Rudolf Kharatian called “temptation.” The back label read: “Armenia is known as the motherland of Viticulture, its winemaking history goes back to at least Biblical times, when Noah established the first vineyard in the Ararat Valley after the Flood.” Another gift: a history lesson on a wine label to be kept.

Digging deeper with more excitement I found two perfect pomegranates picked by my paregam (friend) from a tree he had planted in his Vegas yard six years ago. I immediately held them to my lips and kissed them like a maddened woman who had just struck pirate’s gold. My mood, which had been as somber as that sunless afternoon, suddenly rose to euphoria. I was giddy with childlike pleasure at my friend’s gift. It reminded me of a long-ago day when the U.S. parcel post truck pulled up with gifts—and a lovely white pinafore dress for me—from my aunt Hripseme of Niagara Falls.

Another knock came a few days later, and brought one more unexpected surprise. This time it was from my writer friend Catherine Yessayan from Glendale—a huge box of See’s Chocolates, so fresh and aromatic, so delicious and divine on one’s palate.

Catherine cautioned me to save the candy for the holidays. Have you ever lifted the top off a box of See’s Chocolates and been able to resist those shiny little assorted devils sitting in their paper nests tempting you with their lusciousness? Have you ever said, “I think I will refrain from taste testing until six weeks from now?” You can bet that didn’t happen.

It was taste test time for the pomegranates. I tucked a dish towel into my sweater for a bib like I did when I was a kid and began cutting into the pomegranate, marveling at the juicy red arils tumbling onto my plate like ruby jewels. The other one, which still has two green leaves on it, will be savored another day. It is only in recent years that the antioxidant properties of this amazing fruit have come to light.

Soon I will uncork the pomegranate wine, recline on my leather chair, and slide back into the past dreaming of what was and what could still be. Divine temptation.

Mitch Kehetian continued the indulgence when he presented me with another brown paper bag containing three “Keghi Farms” tomatoes. They were the last of this year’s crop, a taste of our homeland province grown in Allen Park, Mich., from seeds brought over from Armenia. Those very special loligs (tomatoes) may as well have been from the Garden of Eden and the Cradle of Civilization. A tin of Petrosian caviar could not have brought such appreciation.

Catherine, Gary, Kara, Mitch, Tom V., Joe D., I and so many others are bound together with memories, blood, and visions of our homeland, wishing for it to thrive and survive. Mt. Ararat rises as our beacon of strength and hope. We are the children of Noah and Haig and have an irrational love for being Armenian that no other ethnic group can match.

So the next time you hear a knock at your door, I hope you are as fortunate as I was. I send my love and best wishes to all my “Hye Beat” friends and wish that your days and years be filled with fine wine, chocolates, and a pomegranate or two.


Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”

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