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Monday, March 02, 2009

Scented Senses: Memories of my Grandma

**Please visit my friend Octamom's post:  Morning Musings ... Aroma Memory**

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.

24 fishy comments:

Annette Lyon said...

I'm always amazed at how powerful the sense of smell is in evoking memory and emotion. Last fall when I walked into an old school of mine, I felt as if I were 10 again, walking through the doors the very first time. The smell almost bowled me over, the memories came over me so strongly.

I love that you finally found something that smells that your grandmother's makeup.

Jillene said...

I love this post!! Smell is such a big thing for me. I have a really good sniffer and I associate smell with many things. Thanks for sharing about your Grandma--so sweet!!

Heatherlyn said...

That's amazing you found something that smells like your grandma.

I think I can picture her little suitcase thing. My great-grandma had one.

Smells are more meaningful than we give them credit for!

So said...

Isn't that wonderful? I love this post. Smell is so powerful.

rachel said...

Anytime I smell spearmint gum, I think of my grandma.

Lara said...

It's amazing how we associate certain smells with memories.

I have a few things of my grandma's, and I might not keep them except they smell like her. So I keep them. I'm glad that you found something to recreate the smell for you!

Erin said...

I have great memories of my grandma too. Thanks for sharing yours with us, and thanks for helping me remember mine!

Loralee and the gang... said...

What a sweet momeory! I lost my grandma 2 years ago this spring, so I understand...I don't have any scent memories of her, but she used to crochet blankets. I learned to crochet because I wanted to be like her, but I haven't done any since her death. Your post has me wanting to crochet a blanket or two again!
:~D

Becky said...

I have a hard time understanding association by smell, but this was a lovely story nonetheless.

I didn't really know any of my grandparents, and when I read posts like this, I feel a little sad for that. In the next life, the grandparents and I will be doing some serious hanging out!

Kim said...

That was a sweet post. For me it is the smell of Listerine and Rose Milk lotion in the pink bottle that takes me back to memories of my grandma.

Mommy Madness said...

The smells play a big part in my memories too. Thanks for sharing this sweet memory of your grandmother! :)That is one of the things I reallied on when my mother first past away. I held her robe trying to take in the memories.

Kristina P. said...

My paternal grandmother always used Dove on her face, and she smelled like it. I always think of her when I see a Dove commercial.

Oh, and you know, you could always email me that story.

CaJoh said...

I think the smells I remember most about my grandparents are the smells from the house. There is something about old furniture that brings back those memories in me.

Great post.

Melissa said...

All I have to do is THINK really hard, and I can smell my Grandma right there with me. Funny isn't it? I miss her terribly!!

Heidi Ashworth said...

So sweet!

clan of the cave hair said...

did she ever carry a bottle of Emeraude with her in the box? I can still see the bottle on her nightstand.

Octamom said...

Emeraude! I loved that perfume!! My mom had a hard-side little case that she carried toiletries in when we traveled and just like you said, it had its own scent that blended with the cosmetics--

So glad you posted on this!

Blessings!

Wendyburd1 said...

My Grandma had a distinctive scent to her too, and once in a blue moon I smell it, but I don't know what caused it!! I even smelled it on me once or twice but have no idea what I did to make me smell like my Grandma!!

clan of the cave hair said...

could the new background be more perfect?

Shauna said...

Love it :) Thanks for sharing!
♥ Hugs!

2busy said...

I love this. I lost a grandma this fall and another is ailing quickly. She smells like white shoulders perfume, powder and lotion. I think I need to buy some to sniff my grandma.

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Such a lovely story, Mina. I am lucky that both of my grandmothers are still in my life. Reading your story made me very appreciative.

You know, I usually read your posts in Google reader, so today was the first day that I realized that you had redesigned your blog. I love it! Super cute and fun...very fitting for the blog owner.

-Francesca

PS: Thank you, thank you for your lovely e-mail re the Mormon Mommies Group. I am definitely going to look into it more.

Motherboard said...

I love your new blog background! The photo of you is fantastic!

Smell is a huge memory trigger for me too! What a fantastic post!

Diane said...

My grandma's purse smelled like Juicy Fruit gum. She would always give me half a piece. I miss her so much.