Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Clearing My Head

It’s amazing how a smell can move your heart and clear your head.

I spent a lot of time at my Grammy’s house in Fort Smith, Arkansas as a kid. We lived with them briefly when I was really small and lived pretty close (about 5 hours away) until we moved to California. Lots of things changed… my parents had different jobs over the years, my brothers and I got older, my interests in sports waxed and waned… but my Grammy’s house always stayed the same. Literally, the furniture was always in the same spot, the crystal ball-shaped bowl of potpourri was always on the same place on the coffee table, the house always smelled the same. The world around me changed a lot. Sometimes it changed drastically and traumatically but, Grammy’s house was always the same. It always smelled like a mixture of her perfume and that potpourri.  

I can remember getting birthday cards and Valentine’s from Grammy that smelled just like her house. I'd hold the cards close to my face, inhaling that same smell out of the envelopes. It smelled like joy… like peace… like love. Even when I was in a rough season of life, that smell would remind of what’s true. Instantly, I’d be back at her house…

Burying myself in the pile of coats on the 3rd step landing next to the front door…

Lying on the living room floor looking at the Christmas tree and all the years of memories hanging on it…

Sitting at the kitchen table, staring at the green and white plaid tablecloth, eating ice cream with my Grampa…

Running down the big hill in the backyard with Hildegard (the ugliest dog in town… seriously, she won Ugly Dog contests every year until someone entered a hairless Chihuahua or something!)…

Holding hands with Grampa and saying the Lord’s Prayer at mass…

Walking up the stairs and staring into all the faces of relatives in the photographs on the wall (my great grandparents, my Dad and his sisters in their childhood, my Grammy and Grampa’s wedding photo)…

Listening to Bill Cosby’s “Noah, how long can you tread water?” bit coming through the headphones Grampa’s hygienist gave me while he looked my teeth over for cavities at his office…

Sitting on the back patio, eating Triscuits and cream cheese with PickaPeppa poured over it while Grammy filled her bird feeders and talked about stuff going on around town…

Holding hands around the table and hearing 3 generations of voices saying, “Bless us Oh Lord for these thy gifts…”

Wondering just how much hair my Grammy had pinned up in that bun… until she cut it short and started “frosting” her hair instead of pinning it all up…

Years of bedtime stories read… baths given… hair blown dry and brushed… hugs & kisses… climbing into beds and under blankets my Dad and aunts grew up sleeping beneath...

My Grammy knits all the time. She made a blanket for each of my children when they were born. The kids loved them as babies because the yarn she chose is so soft! But they were soothing to me too because they smelled just like her house. On the nights that little ones were cutting teeth or running a fever or simply opting out of sleeping all night… the smell of those blankets soothed my tired and weary, new-Mama, heart. That smell reminds me that I am loved.

It’s amazing how a smell can move your heart and clear your head.

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