Posted tagged ‘scent’

The Scent of Remembering

December 4, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          December 4, 2019

                                   

I had a dream the other night that, strange as it sounds, caused me to tear up. In the confusion of the moment perhaps it was as I awoke from the dream that the tears came, but, whatever the progression, it was an emotional moment.

The dream centered on those who have passed on. Some of the saints whose funerals I’ve officiated at— Charles Slusser, Rex Davis, Ralph Kothe, Jim Newsome, Ben Dickerson, Rita Morris, Phyllis Smith, Greg Davis— came back to my mind in the dream. 

And then my mom and dad. In the dream I could not discern whether my parents were still on this side of eternity or had crossed over. They seemed to be speaking to me as I sat in a church parlor talking to Charles Slusser’s son-in-law and daughter, Dieter and Tina. 

This morning I made the connection between the vividness of the dream and why I experienced it. On Thanksgiving Day our oldest daughter, Kecia, opened a container of my mom’s that had been handed down to her after my dad passed away almost two years ago. When she opened it she remarked on how the scent reminded her of my mom. Or, as Kecia refers to her, MaMaw Wolfe. She hovered over the container and inhaled several times.

My mom’s possessions—dishes, linens, clothes closet— had a distinctive scent that I can only describe as smelling like a combination of southern, cared for, and homey. Kecia closed the container after a couple of minutes in order to preserve the memory. MaMaw has been gone five years and the scent still blesses us.

I lingered over the container for a few seconds myself. Visions of family dinners and savory casserole dishes came back to me. The memory of my mom always greeting our kids with the words, “Give me some sugar!”, and then the giggling when Kecia brought her two sugar packets as we arrived on one visit.

The sweetness of those memories triggered the “deep into the night” emotions. I miss my parents, the Sunday night phone conversations with Dad, Mom’s questions that sought to find a five letter word for “fast” to fill in on her crossword puzzle, her pickiness and my dad’s patience. I miss their practices and their peculiarities.

It’s interesting how a scent from a container can bring the blessings of memories, and life back to those who have long since been lowered into the ground. 

The sense of smell comes out as a strong theme in scripture. Some of the sacrifices that the Jewish people offered God are described as being aromas pleasing to God. The Magi brought gifts to the newborn King, Jesus, and two of them had strong scents that communicated something about who Jesus is.

Kecia closed the container back up and put it away until the next time our family gathers at her house for a special event. When that takes place the scent of remembering will descend upon us again and we will experience the blessings of those who have been pleasing aromas in our journeys. 

Mother’s Day Without Mom

May 11, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                May 11, 2014

 

                                    “Mother’s Day Without Mom”

 

     This is the first Mother’s Day I’ve ever experienced without a mom on this side of Glory. Mom passed to the other side last September, the day after Labor Day. So today I’m in a new place just as she is. I’m walking through it with a mixture of grief and gratitude, a strange mixture…kind of like putting ketchup on top of your peanut butter, you’re not sure if it’s good or bad!

The last two Mother’s Day with Mom were grief in process. Her health had declined to the point that she wasn’t able to carry on a conversation. Calling here on the phone was a painful experience with me being in Colorado and her in Ohio. Her health difficulties had reduced her verbal capabilities to a bare minimum…and my mom was always one to be vocal!

I would send her flowers for Mother’s Day. It was the best I could do for her. She loved the floral arrangements and foliage plants that FTD would deliver…once they were able to find the house! That’s another story for another day!

I remember my mom for who she was before her afflictions took her health away. On this Mother’s Day I remember with a grateful heart the stories, the influence, and even “the look!”

“The look” could stop a freight train. It was convicting! I remember that look one afternoon when I was about ten. Mom had told me that I could go to the park in Williamstown, West Virginia where we lived, but that I could not cross the main street in town to go to the little grocery store. Back in those days before aluminum soda cans a kid could find empty pop bottles and return them to the store for three cents a piece. Two pop bottles could net me a Pay Day or Mallo Cup. But on this day my mom had explicitly forbidden me to cross that main street.

“No problem!”, I thought! What she doesn’t know won’t hurt…me! I made the journey and was munching on my Pay Day on the way back across the street when in the distance I saw a car coming that looked like our family car. I sprinted back into the park and hid behind a trash can until I was sure she had passed. Finally I raised up…and there she was…sitting there, and giving me “the look!” I was toast!

Besides the look, however, my mom would care for us. My brother and I always got new underwear for Christmas, just in case we were in an accident and they had to cut away our blue jeans. It was important to have intact pairs of “Towncraft tighty whities” on.

She could cook! And the thing is, she would cook dinner each night after working a full day at J.C. Penney’s. Not packaged meals, mind you! Home-cooked masterpieces…skillet cornbread… green beans that I didn’t appreciate back then, but now miss greatly…fried chicken…squash casserole…need I go on?

My mom had a certain scent. It’s hard to explain that, but it stayed in the nostrils of your memory. Recently I traveled back to Ohio to help my dad get some things taken care of in preparation for his move to a new senior adult independent living complex he’s moving into. Going from his three bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment has made these past few months a time of sorting for him. What will he take? What will he leave behind? What will he give away? My oldest daughter, Kecia, asked me to bring back a few specific items that she remembers about my parents’ house. A couple of the things she requested were some of MaMaw Wolfe’s dish towels and hot pads. Why? Because they have MaMaw’s scent that is special. When we would travel home to see my parents “the scent” would be a comfort, a welcoming, almost like entering a room with bread baking in the oven.

I’m grateful for “the look”, “the caring”, “the smells”, and “the scent.” Although Mom is gone, those things will stay with me…and on this different kind of Mother’s Day they make me happy!