My maternal grandmother visited us back east nearly every year once my parents were divorced. It was generally a three week trip, as airfares in the early 80s went down after extended stays. She'd sleep on a cot in my room, and I loved having that temporary roommate.
Grandma had a square yellow make-up case, resembling a small hard-case suit case which would now be a nightmare with the FAA. With her purse, it comprised her carry-on luggage, and I am positive she would have been quite reluctant to check it. Inside the case, a tray on top removed to reveal larger items stored beneath. The case contained make-up, creams, lotions, powders, toothbrush and paste, a shower cap, hair-rollers, pins, and aerosol spray, all neatly and precisely organized. This box encapsulated the scent of Grandma. It magnified it, even. And every morning and evening I would sit in the bathroom and watch Grandma make her toilette, methodically using every item in that case, often do-do-doing (Grandma's answer to humming) to her reflection in the medicine cabinet door.
I can't conjure that scent out of nothing, but I'd always been quite certain that I'd recognize it the moment I smelled it. But I'd never run across it. Even other elderly ladies of my acquaintance never quite smell like my Grandma.
I have a hard time with blushes. I prefer light-colored shades, but those rarely match my skin-tone very well. There was a Mary Kay color that I loved, but it was, of course, discontinued. I have yet to find a good replacement. Then this past fall, I found a color that looked like it would be a match. It was a Cover Girl Cheekers in Natural Shimmer. I was disappointed. In the color, that is. I have kept it, however, because it smells like my Grandma's make-up. I think that if I bought a can of AquaNet that I could fairly reproduce the scent of the entire case. As it is some mornings I open the little grey container, inhale, and transport myself to her arms, my small nose and lips against her soft, powdery cheek.
Grandma will have been gone for 8 years next month, and she'd been taken from us in some ways years before that. In reality I spent a fair amount of time with a Grandma who lived 3,000 miles away, and the time was generally fun and comforting. She was a blessing. And until the day that I can once again throw my arms about her, I may have to be content to remember that smell, and remember her love.