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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Ties that Bind

The day that my grandmother passed away, Bruce and I had been desperately trying to travel from Illinois back to California to stand by her hospital bedside for a last goodbye.
We didn't make it.
She had died a couple of hours before our plane landed.
My father picked us up at the San Francisco airport and we proceeded directly to her lovely home in the city.
I don't remember why we went there. But as soon as we entered her home, I noticed right away that the energy within the place had changed. Without my grandmother's presence, the walls, the furniture, the decorations just didn't seem the same.
I went right upstairs to my grandmother's bathroom, opened her cabinet and took out her bottle of Youth Dew. I slipped the small bottle into my purse.
No one but I would have appreciated that perfume. Most likely, one of the family members would have thrown it into the garbage.
But Grandmommy and I shared a love for scent—in particular, all things Este Lauder.
And Youth Dew had been her favorite.
Youth Dew and sewing.
She'd taught me how to sew.
We used to go down to the Emporium and shop for fabric, a pattern, and notions.
Then we'd go back home and she'd show me how to lay out the fabric and the pattern and cut out the pieces.
Even as she moved from the work table to  the sewing machine, my nostrils would catch the subtle scent of her perfume.
Unlike my father, who lived to tell his stories, my grandmother was very much an in-the-moment kind of woman. She rarely reminisced. Maybe she thought I was too young.
Anyway, I'd hear the muted sounds of cars on San Pablo Drive, sniff the remnants of her Kent cigarette, burning down to the stub in the nearby ashtray, and feel a wonderful sense of rightness about spending the whole weekend away from the chaos of home,  and insignificance of being the last-born in a family of brilliant siblings.
Such happy memories. Just Grandmommy and I, sewing.
The sound of her voice, instructing, the whir of the sewing machine, and Youth Dew.

I kept that bottle of Youth Dew for several years.
It stayed fresh mostly because I only opened it and used a drop for special occasions.
But of course, each time I did, images of my grandmother rose in my mind.

It's too bad I can't transfer those memories and the emotions engendered by them to my children.
To them, she will only be a name, Frances Reed, and a function: grandmother.

The Youth Dew is long gone.
But that's okay.
I no longer need it.
Just thinking about Grandmommy now brings up her scent.
And with it, those memories that bind us together.


  1. Youth Dew brings back memories for me, too. My grandmother didn't wear it, but someone introduced me to it in college - I don't use it any more, but still appreciate all that went along with it.

    A story about scents - my dad wore a certain brand of aftershave. Don't remember which kind, but after he passed away, our family got one of his cars which we passed on to Stephanie and Matt when they got married. On my first visit to their home after their marriage, I had occasion to ride in that car. I opened the car door, and there was my memory of Daddy. He was long gone, but the car retained something of his aftershave scent.

  2. I love that, Martye. There's a certain restaurant in town that smells just like my grandmother's house. Every time I go there, I recall scenes from my grandparents.'