Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Scent of Memory

DH and I are enjoying our "kid swap" alone-time this weekend. Our kids are off at a friend's house, hopefully having a good time, and behaving themselves.

Last night, I picked him up from work, we went out to dinner, and then saw "The Reader." (Highly recommend it... not a "feel good movie" but one that will spark interesting discussion on guilt and responsibility). This morning, we started our day with Centering Prayer over at the parish. There is a group that meets two Saturdays a month for CP, and I try to go as often as my schedule allows. This was DH's first time, and he really liked it.

After that, we drove to a town about 30 minutes away that has an historic district filled with little shops and restaurants. We so rarely get to do that... just wander in and out of shops, most of which are filled with breakable items. A nightmare to consider bringing the kids, but a perfectly pleasant way to spend the day on our own. We had lunch at a Victorian-inspired restaurant. We got some great finds (including a Bible stand... and I've been looking for a nice one of those for some time!) at another little shop.

Right before heading back home, we stopped in the Irish shop. DH and I are both of Irish heritage. My paternal grandparents emigrated from Ireland to NYC in 1929 and 1930... meeting in NYC in 1931. We wandered a bit, and I found myself in a corner of the shop where they kept jewelry and perfumes. Did they have it? Yes. Inisfree. My grandmother's scent. She wore it infrequently, because it was expensive (at least, more so than her daily Jean Nate). Using the "tester," I squirted some on my wrists and inhaled.

Grandma died in 1992, 15 months after Grandpa, following a series of strokes that left her more and more incapacitated. In her final few years, alzheimer's wreaked it's havoc on her brain. But she was still Grandma, sweet Nora. My Grandma was always second fiddle to Grandpa. She was the quiet, faithful, dutiful partner. Grandpa was the life of the party, and the love of my life (until DH, that is). I never really noticed Grandma when Grandpa was around.

I remember their 50th wedding anniversary. My parents threw them a big party... a wedding reception, almost. My dad's cousin picked them up in NYC and drove them out to the NJ suburb where the party was in a limosine. (He owned a limo company). They were thrilled. These Irish immigrants, who never owned a house or learned to drive a car, were thrilled to be treated like such royalty. Grandpa was the great MC... the Master of Ceremonies. Grandma was the quiet Bride, sitting faithfully beside him, smiling at the worn-out jokes, with a little glint in her eye.

As I've gone throughout my afternoon, I've been filled with memories of Grandma. Every time my hands get close to my face, the scent of Inisfree catches me, and I think of her. I can see her smile, her gentle eyes. I can feel her warm embrace. I can hear the slight hint of the brogue that she had held onto, even after fifty years in this country. And I miss her.

No comments:

Post a Comment