Friday, February 03, 2006

The Scent of a Woman

When I was a kid I had a routine. Every night after dinner was done and the dishes were put away and all my homework was finished I would go upstairs to my Nana's room and watch TV with her. The shows varied over the years but we had our regulars, Who's the Boss and Perfect Strangers during the week, Golden Girls and Empty Nest on Saturdays and always Murder She Wrote on Sundays. She would sit on her couch and I would be in her chair closer to the television. Nana always had snacks in her room, usually Nilla Wafers or Social Teas, and she kept them on top of the dresser in her closet. They were located right next to the dog biscuits, because Nana always had snacks for everyone regardless of their species. In between shows, or after my Dad yelled for me long enough, I would jet downstairs to clean the birdcage on the nights that it was my turn. Before I went back up I would scoop some ice cream for us. There was a particular type of cup, plastic and white with a handle, or Kelly's cups as we called them, that we preferred our coffee ice cream in. Growing up in a big family it is hard to find your own space. Despite the large size of my parents house, there was never a place that I felt was my mine. I shared a room with both of my sisters so that was never fully my space. But in that orange chair in my Nana's room, loading up on sugar, I felt safe and at home. We would talk about school, or our family, or she would get on the phone to talk to her cousins, but it was never the talking that mattered. It was just being with her that I enjoyed.

As I grew older and went into high school, our TV time grew less and less. I had games and practices to attend to, and friends to talk to on the phone, and more important things to do. Some nights I would come home and not even go in to say hello. My Nana passed away eight years ago this week and I would do anything in this world to have one of those nights back. But I can't. Not a week goes by where I don't think about her, and miss her, and wish that she could see my life now and share it with me. But I can't do that either.

This past summer I was going through some boxes and found a red tin that she had given me when I went away to college. Inside she had placed a needle and thread, an ace bandage because I was always spraining my ankle, and various other important items that would help fill the void of not having a grandmother around. As I opened this tin, over ten years later, I was struck by how much it still smelled like her. Maybe it was her soap, or her lotion, or the lining she placed in her dresser drawers. Whatever the combination, it was how I remember her and the scent was overwhelming. The sensory overload reduced me to tears. Wailing tears, the kind that don't stop even after calling both of your sisters and making them cry too. That scent, her smell, was how it felt in her room, safe, warm and full of love. I know that she is always with me. It is not just her scent in that tin that keeps her with me, but her love. I know that. But some Social Teas and a few episodes of Cheers would still feel really good.

4 comments:

Numero Uno said...

I think all posts to your blog should start with a warning - "hey(fill in the blank), you should probably wait to read this after your meeting"

I think I can smell the smell.....Thanks :)

Lenman said...

It's good to share those memories. Must be in the air. I was thinking about my dad the last few days and what I would do to get those times back...

carolyn said...

wow everyone's writing about their grandparents lately and totally ripping out my heart all over again.

.25 life crisis kid said...

i feel ya. I totally feel ya.