Tuesday, June 2, 2015

a pleasing scent

my mom with three of her grandsons

Unique space in my memory is filled by and reserved for grandparents. Quite often, a smell can trigger it.  The scent of cheese toast in the oven is my paternal grandmother's "woo-hoo" as she summoned us for a snack.  The inside of an old Jeep, a more metallic and musty odor, ushers in memories of my paternal grandfather's slightly intimidating lectures while he taught me in all my adolescent glory how to use a stick shift. When I slip on a vintage dress that belonged to my maternal grandmother, I can still catch a hint of her smell and I'm reminded of her class and graceful yet somehow far-off presence.  Maybe the scent of slightly damp life jackets would be my maternal grandfather, him happy for us to be on a sailboat at the lake. And it's funny- what could have been an odor may instead have become a pleasing fragrance when it's cemented in your memory as being in the context of love.  Classic Pavlov, right? 

Cheese toast in the oven?  That's Memaw.

A handkerchief that's spent years in a drawer?  That's Gran.

While I'm glad for the aromatic trigger, I'm even more glad for the people who did the triggering. And for my children, it's no different.  Unique space in their memory will be filled by and reserved for their grandparents, too.

Movie theater popcorn or gumbo on the stove might trigger thoughts of BeBe's love.  A whiff of the clean night air in Tiger Stadium or a shrimp boil at the beach may always conjure up memories of Pop Pop.  When they bury their face in a book and and take in its scent, they might remember their Nana.  Unfortunately, they won't know my dad's scent or the smell of garlic cooking in oil when he makes his homemade salsa, but they'll know Buck- the smell of an East Texas field of wildflowers or hay might always be him in their minds.  Kathy's fragrance-trigger may be harder to pin down since we find ourselves having all sorts of adventures together, but the breeze off Mobile Bay and the smell of fresh detergent comes to mind as our Happy has done our laundry more than a few times. 

Love creates a memory wrapped up in a scent that can waft years into the future, transporting us back to that love.

It's true for all relationships I would guess, but I'm struck today by the power of the grandparent smell, a pleasing scent indeed. 

There's nothing like it. 

1 comment:

Korrie said...

That certain smell of a well-stocked spice cabinet brings me to my maternal Grandma's house faster than anything. Love it so much when that happens!
So strange, recalling smells in one's memory...