I have always had an exceptional sense of smell and I do believe it has become even stronger since my vision left the building. There is debate – no, not THAT debate – as to whether or not that is really a thing, but it seems to be the case, well, in my case.
On Sunday morning I realized we were out of soap and I asked my husband to pick a bar up while he was out. We normally buy Lever in bulk but one bar would hold us until next weekend when we went grocery shopping. When I opened the box I was overwhelmed by the soap’s fragrance. The name on the box said “Dove” but to me it’s “Nana”.
Now, every time I go into the bathroom, it is 1976, I am eleven and spending a few weeks of my summer vacation with my Nana in Philadelphia as it celebrates the Bicentennial. It’s scrubbing her bathroom floor, black and white hexagon tiles, because I want to save her knees. It’s keeping my finger on the spout of her watering can like she taught me, so the water doesn’t come out as I tend to her plants throughout the apartment. It’s lying in her bedroom, in twin beds, while I tell her every microscopic detail of my life and she listens, really listens, and asks questions. It’s her making homemade croutons and me thinking they were a delicacy and that she was better than Julia Childs. It’s her making Brown Apple Betty that twenty years after her death still makes my mouth salivate when I think of it. It’s me being the one to put the money in the bus fare collection box and the drivers being so nice to me. It’s my amazement that she knows which buses go where, which are the correct steps for the right subway station. It’s threading the needle for her even though she could do it herself and watching her work the treadle on her sewing machine like a pro. (That sewing machine is now in a place of honor in my living room.) It’s sitting outside after dinner with her neighbors, Claire and Mr. Cooper. It’s the Philadelphia water that my mother loved that I never acquired a taste for. It’s the round container that she would pour baby powder into then use a powder puff to apply. It’s walking across the street by myself to the drugstore to get ice cream and feeling so grown up. It’s crying the whole 45-minute-ride home because I miss her so much already.
All that from a bar of soap? It may be Dove but to me it’s love. And just like on the rides home from her house, I miss her terribly. But as you have just read, I carry her with me, more than I even realized. I’ve never been so happy to have run out of something in my life.