Monday, June 29, 2009

What's that smell?

This can be a dangerous question at my house. With two boys, a baby, and a dog (not to mention the husband), one never knows what to expect behind a smell.

But smells are powerful things and can bring back powerful memories. To this day I must always use green Palmolive dish soap and Dove body soap as it reminds me of my Grandmother. I never go for the Joy or the Ivory that would remind me of home but for the smells that remind me of the only vacations we took when I was young. Where we'd get together at Grandma's house in Arkansas and just enjoy being together. We'd eat at the dining room table and enjoy a home cooked meal. These are the memories that I cherish and those smells make me happy.

I recently went to visit my Aunt in Colorado. The moment I stepped into her house I recognized a smell that I hadn't been around in years. It was the smell of my Grandmother's house. Not Palmolive or Dove or coconut cake or rice and gravy or Youth Dew cologne, but something else that I couldn't put my finger on. My Aunt thought that maybe I was smelling the Juniper that was strong outside but as there wasn't an abundance of Juniper in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, I'm pretty sure it was something else. The entire trip it lingered near me and yet I never fully found the source.

The day before I left my Aunt gave me a copy of something she'd written a few years after Grandma had died. It was her memories of the last few years of Grandma's life. It was a daughter's heartfelt words and feelings and her longing for the mom that was no longer here. As I read the words, I remembered my own mother's pain and how I missed those summer with Grandma.

Then attached to the back of this memoir was the eulogy that Aunt Laura gave at Grandma's funeral. At this point the tears were flowing down my face and I read/remembered the last line that has stuck with me all these years. "I will miss you mommy, every day for the rest of my life."

This trip with my Aunt really brought some healing that I didn't know I needed. It helped me grow closer to her and this part of my past and family that has tended to get neglected the past few years. I felt that I knew (or remembered) more of who I am and will always be.

And it was all triggered because of a smell. I have to think that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't really a smell at all but the presense of my Grandmother happy that my Aunt and I had reconnected after all these years.

Until Everyone Hears,

1 comment:

Mark Jordan said...

I have always heard that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. Tiffany often teases me because I like to sniff things, but I think it's because I'm looking to connect certain scents with other experiences in my life.

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