Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Textures and Smells

Sometimes I see little old ladies with grey hair wearing the same kinds of clothes Mom used to wear and I get transported to random moments of being with her. I see her slightly-stooped posture. I smell her favorite perfume (Cotillion by Avon), and I feel her hand reaching for mine – for steadiness or for affection, it doesn’t matter which. 

I never was one to want to wear my mother’s clothes, at least not the polyester pants with the elastic waistbands. There were one or two of her blouses that I might try to commandeer, but it never felt right for me to utilize her wardrobe. It was the stuff of mom-ness, and I was just a child. For so many years, I have been just her child. Now that I have been catapulted into the realm of raising grandchildren that I inherited through my husband, I have skipped typical motherhood altogether and have to navigate the combined realm of parenting and grandparenting the same children all at once. I am often at a loss for how to proceed through this new maze I’ve wandered into, but slipping on a pair of Mom’s socks or one of her hand-painted t-shirts or sweatshirts can somehow make me feel like I know where I am going. She would probably laugh at that, because she did not believe that things held any power. Maybe the only power in it is God using those textures to jog the memories of times when I saw Mom model the loving ways of caring for others. 

I wish opening a bottle of Mom’s old perfume or brushing up against some fine polyester would bring her voice back with answers to any one of my current problems. For now, just know that if you see me asking a little old lady for a hug or inhaling deeply when one walks by, I am not stalking. I am remembering.



  1. I can smell her perfume as I read this. Just beautiful, Carolyn.

  2. Oh Carolyn, this conjured up so many memories of my grandmother, her house dresses lined up neatly in her closet, the way the house smelled. Love this, it's beautiful and evokes all the senses and the deep longing we have for acceptance and love. Glad you shared it.

  3. Memories for me, too. You shed her fragrance, friend.

    My mom bought a couple of those ahhh bras before she fell. We wrote her name on them and took them to her. I confiscated them after she died and sometimes slip one on when I want to feel a little comforted (in more ways than one.) Also, she used to give Grace little bottles of perfume--strong but her. Next time I'm up there, I might spritz some cotton balls with her Chanel #5. I'm sure my dad or sissy still has it.

  4. Beautiful, Carolyn. And I think you're onto something with slipping into some of your mom's clothes. Perhaps you're wearing them like a prayer shawl--a symbol of raising your hands in prayer to God for help with this whole overwhelming parenting thing.

    My mom? The scent of Jergen's lotion. Always.

  5. I totally get this, Carolyn. That's why I got more of my mom's clothes a couple of weeks ago. Today, I'm wearing her shorts and her engagement ring--the last thing she gave me before she died. Now, off to therapy!

  6. Oh friend, I so feel these longings for my grandmother. Thank you for taking me to a place I love to remember. I'm going to wear her pink and white gingham apron today. Smiling and remembering with you.

  7. This is so sweet and beautiful, Carolyn. I love that God gives us five senses, and that sometimes, in remembering and re-experiencing them, we can find memory, joy, and even peace.


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