The Fragrance of Memory

February 25, 2010 at 3:48 am 84 comments

When I was little my mother wore deep red lipstick and Chanel Number 5.

It was fun to watch Mom put on makeup  because it meant she and Dad were going out, or people were coming in. It was exciting either way.

She’d stand in front of the mirror and begin by stroking the lipstick three times right in the middle of her upper lip. Lipstick to the right, then to the left, a quick schmear on the bottom lip, and then she’d move both lips together a few times to even out the coverage.

She’d blot with a piece of toilet paper and that was the extent of her “toilette.” There might have been some eyebrow pencil going on but I mostly remember the lipstick. I can see her now in my mind’s eye. What a good memory.

My family didn’t air kiss. You got kissed on the lips or on the cheek. And if you got lipsticked somebody was always there to rub it off, taking two or three layers of skin with it.

Mom only wore perfume when she dressed up. And it was always Chanel Number 5. She’d spray it on one wrist and then rub both wrists together. She smelled so good.

When I find myself by a perfume counter I always test the sample. The aroma carries me back to Mom. I hear her high heels on the wooden floor and the jangling of her bracelets. Funny how we have a mind’s “nose” and a mind’s “ear” too.

This past Christmas when I was mall-walking and Macy’s opened early for holiday shoppers I think I made a pest of myself at the perfume counter. I hoped  the Chanel Number 5 would go on sale; it never did. They probably had to break out a new sample bottle.

Recently, I finally got up the energy to clean out more of Mom’s things. She’s been gone over a year now, but I haven’t been in any hurry to tackle the stuff left behind when she moved out of my house and into Assisted Living in 2006.  To  my great surprise I found three bottles of Chanel Number 5! She hadn’t worn perfume for a really long time. I think she was saving it.

So, for the last few months I’ve been wearing exorbitantly expensive  perfume around the house. I’m not saving it. I squirt it on one wrist and then rub both of my wrists together just like Mom did, even if I’m wearing jeans and sneakers. And throughout the day I sniff my wrists and bring back Mom to my mind’s eye. She’s young and healthy, and she remembers my name, and I tell her how much I miss her. And that I will always love her.

Thanks for the perfume, Mom.

Entry filed under: Alzheimer's, Miscellaneous Musings, Mom.

The Captain Take Your Quilt To Work Day

84 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Terry  |  February 25, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I did the same thing when my Mom passed away. I started wearing her perfume. Her scent was White Diamonds. I even had to purchase more when her bottle ran out. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Terry

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  • 2. Anita  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Beautiful post! What a wonderful way to keep your mom close to you! Hugs!

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  • 3. Connie  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Smell memories and sound memories have always been strongest with me too. My mom didn’t have a signature scent, but she was a baker, and I can’t pass a bread bakery or a pizza shop without seeing in my minds eye, something cooling on the counter or bread freshly baked coming out of the oven. I think that is one of the greatest gifts we have, to be able to be taken back in time in an instant by a smell or a sound.

    YIPPEE for you with the perfume. I too would wear it always.

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  • 4. Mutti  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I remember Mom and her friends having a meeting in the living room. I loved to back and forth down the hall every few minutes, very quietly, sniffing how lovely their scents were! The mixture was exotic. Enjoy your perfume gift!

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  • 5. Marge Fine  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Lovely story. My mom was the same…saving things for some unknown future. I’m happy that she saved the Chanel for you!
    Marge

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  • 6. Shirley  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Ami – – your note today truly made me cry. How lucky you were to have known and loved your Mom like you did. Some people never get that. How lucky your Mom was to have YOU.
    I can’t imagine a time when I won’t have my own Mom, my best girlfriend, and the person that gave me my love of sewing. At 84 she still works from home doing mending and alterations, and her only weakness is the 30+ sewing machines that she has accumulated from garage sales. She can’t pass them up and I tease her that I’m going to send the show “Hoarders” into her basement. Her reply? “Don’t even think it! Each machine has a specialty – one sews leather, one jeans, one does a really fine stitch… ”
    Your Mom lives on in you and your heart. No one and nothing can take that away.

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  • 7. Patti  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I just read your comments about the Channel #5 and not cleaning out your Mom’s things. I think that is a mistake so many people make about rushing to do. After losing several family members I have learned my lesson. I still have my Mother’s purse just as she left it. Money and all and everytime I open it I can smell the Merle Norman products that were so my Mom. Sad but comforting.

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  • 8. Shelli  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Wow. You have brought tears to my eyes this morning with the same type of memories of my youth when I would watch my mother do the same things. She always wore Channel No. 5 and now it is my favorite too. My grandmother passed in 08 from complications of Alzhimers and I miss her everyday. Thank you for all that you are doing to help the research and I pray that a cure will be found very soon.

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  • 9. Jacki  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Boy, does all of that bring back memories… My mother always wore Channel #5 and I never liked the smell of it. Then in later years she changed to Charlie. I liked it. The hardwood floors in all the stores – my, I’d forgotten all about that. Also always wearing a hat & gloves when going “to town”.

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  • 10. Diane Petersmarck  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:02 am

    SOB! I’m with Dad this week and was just going through the scrapbooks I’ve made for him and having happy memories.

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  • 11. Pam  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I think your post struck a cord with so many readers who have also lost their Mom. Funny the things that we remember and the things that can bring our distant past flooding back. Thanks for sharing and for causing me to pause for a moment to recall the specialness about my Mother (who has been gone 8 years but remains in my thoughts each and every day).

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  • 12. Celia  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Thank you, sweet Ami, for the beautifully evocative memory. My mom, who passed away in 1999, seemed to be reading over my shoulder as I read.
    Blessings always,
    Celia

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  • 13. Nanette  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Thanks for the post. It brought tears to my eyes. Although I think my mom wore Chanel #5, it is the smell of pressed powder makeup that brings back the memories. Her dresser drawers always had the light powdery smell to them. My current dresser is her’s, some 30 years later I still occasionally get a whiff that delicate smell. Thanks for the smell-a-therapy.
    Nanette

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  • 14. Linda Kramer  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Thanks for sharing your memories today. I had forgotten how my Mom put on her lipstick (Orange Flip!!) the same way and blotted it the same too. My mom’s been gone for 12 years and not a day goes by that i don’t think of her. Your mom will never be gone from your heart.

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  • 15. quiltdivajulie  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:08 am

    What a beautiful post . . . I grew up hearing my mom tell us NOT to save the good dishes or the perfume or the pretty paper for a “rainy day” but to USE IT NOW. She cleaned out behind both her mother and her mother in law and was deeply affected by what she found in their “saved for good” piles (new linens, new nightgowns, pretty clothes, etc.). I try hard to USE what I have and enjoy it, knowing that I won’t be able to forever.

    Like you said, “thanks, Mom for the reminder!”

    HUGS

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  • 16. Jo Ann  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

    This story reminds me of the little girl (about 5) who loved watching her Grandmother getting ready to go out. One day, the Grandmother was putting on her lipstick, and it was her habit to blot it on a piece of toilet paper. One day, in a hurry, she neglected to do so, and the little girl remarked “Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper goodbye”.

    Cherish all the memories of your Mother and the fact that you had her for so many years. I lost my Mom just weeks before I turned 21, before I was married – and still 52 years later come across things that remind me of her. Especially when I see her Cookbook on my shelf (given to her the year I was born!). Or one of the quilts she made before I was born.

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  • 17. Lynn  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:26 am

    That last paragraph brought tears to my eyes. I still have my mother at 88 but she getting more frail each year as she deals with some issues so I treasure my time with her. My memory of my mother will always be of her sewing some garment or other. She sewed many, many clothes for her 5 children including tailored suits for my too tall brother. When she had to give up sewing due to her Parkinson’s disease she cried. I could feel for her as that is how I will feel if the time comes when I have to give up sewing. One of the last things she did sew on the machine was a queen sized sampler quilt that she stitched entirely by holding the pieces together with her left hand (non shaky one) as she could not pin the pieces together anymore. The points are perfect like everything she ever did and I now have that quilt and it is a prized possession.

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  • 18. Barbara  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for the memories!! My mom, who also died of Alzheimers applied her lipstick just as yours did and used the tp to blot!! She too loved Chanel #5 but unlike you I didn’t find any bottles around to enjoy after she’d died. This has inspired me to go buy a bottle just for the memories. It will be well worth the expense just to be able to enjoy the fragrance and memories once again.

    I just love your thoughts in this mailing and look forward to each ones arrival.

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  • 19. Judy C in NC  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:35 am

    What a wonderful story – reminds us all that there are lots of memories to be remembered – if we just take the time to do it.

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  • 20. Sharon Decker  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Thank you for the lovely piece you wrote. I was only 31 when Mom died in 1974. I have various small things that were hers scattered around my house but not on display. It is such a joy when I happen upon one of them while looking for something. I can then “see” Mom as young and healthy and it brings a smile to my face. I still miss her and “talk” to her often. Oh how I wish she had lived long enough to know her grandchildren as adults.

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  • 21. Sharlene  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:47 am

    What a beautiful posting-you have me crying….and remembering my mom!

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  • 22. quilterjan  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Ami, Thanks for the memories! My mother went through the same routine with her deep red lipstick (which for some reason had it’s own scent); I don’t know what her perfume was called, but I will always remember how exotic it looked – the cap looked like a tiger skin, and felt slightly furry. Then came the black velvet peep-toed slingbacks….
    She’s now 81, and needs a cane or walker, so the heels have long ago been relegated to Goodwill, but they made their way to our dress-up clothing box first!
    I wonder what my daughters will remember of me…..

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    • 23. Lu Ann Leonard  |  March 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm

      Quilterjan…the perfume your are describing with the tiger skin top was called “Tigress”. My mom, who is now 83 years old, wore that perfume for years. I loved it.

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  • 24. sue myer  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

    My mother was both mom and dad to five kids, the oldest with polio…..so she had to “fix up” stuff herself. When I got old enough to relaize all she had done without for us kids, I made a big deal out of Father’s Day for her, taking her to our local hardware or paint shop an letting her hssop to her heart’s content amongst the tools……such fond memories!

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  • 25. Marcia Middents  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Lovely story!

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  • 26. Eileen Hagen  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    We lost our mothers around the same time-mine to the effects of a stroke. I was driving yesterday and all of a sudden I thought of all the times she was with me in the car after her stroke. It was a project getting her into and out of my wagon-sometimes 4 round trips (in and out of the car) on a day out. I would take her shopping and out to lunch. We had some of our best laughs with these maneuvers. But all of a sudden yesterday, I could feel her presence and I was both very happy and very sad at the same time. Thanks for your memory.

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  • 27. Kathy A Merris  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    You brought a smile to me and a memory of watching my mother put on her makeup. I loved to watch. Her lipstick technique was the same as your mom’s. She used her powder puff last thing. I’m not sure what her scent was. I was soft and powdery. My daughter recently told me she missed my scent when we’re in Florida for the winter. Maybe all mothers have a special scent to their daughters.

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  • 28. Theresa  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    What’s so cool about this is, this is my memory too! Almost exactly – with 6 kids, my mother never did wear bracelets, even for special occasions, but everything else is spot on! I didn’t get her fragrances when she died but they’re still out there and every time I smell Chanel No 5 or Woodhue I become that little girl again, watching Mother get “fixed up” to go out for the evening!

    Thanks for stirring up those memories for me today!

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  • 29. Gerry Prodger  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing those memories, Ami. Tears in my eyes, too. My mom has been gone 5 years, and I still think of her every day. I love wearing her engagement ring from 1941 – I have a photo hanging in my office of my folks the day they got engaged, with Dad in his Air Force uniform, proudly pointing to her third finger, left hand! Your comments about scents is so true – occasionally, I’ll catch a whiff of Old Spice and cigarette smoke, and know that my dad is nearby. We’re blessed to have that peace and comfort, aren’t we?

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  • 30. Deb Sims  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Wow, Ami, you made me cry again. Mom has been gone two years now and I miss her daily. For some reason I haven’t been able to pinpoint I have been missing her especially the last couple of weeks. Perhaps she is close to me and I feel that presence. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories of your mom.
    deb

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  • 31. Meredith Felix  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    That was a beautiful blog! Thank you! You reminded many of us of our fond memories of our mothers. I lost mine in a car accident when I was 19 years old. And I have hung on to lists she wrote of chores I was expected to do before going out with my friends (perhaps very ironic that a teenager would keep that!)
    Here’s one the quilters will also be able to relate to: I love cats, especially long haired ones. I had a Blue Point Himalayian that was a real charatcter. He would NOT get in my lap and let me pet him (I used to pin him down to brush him, then I’d get the swishy tail and yowling) but he always wanted to be near, at least in the same room with me. So of course we spent many days with him laying at the oppostie end of the cutting/sewing table on the fabric I was trying to work on.
    My grandson (who lived with us) developed asthma, which was agravated by the cat. So “Bogart” was banished to the sewing room in the basement, to keep him away from Drew.
    And of course Bogart made himself right at home among the boxes of fabrics and ongoing projects. After Drew ended up in the emergency room because he couldn’t breathe, I had to find a new home for Bogart. That was seven years ago, and once in a while I will still come upon some white, very soft, cat hair clinging to my fabric. I twiril it in my fingers and remember my friend.

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  • 32. Sandi Fisher  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Lovely post. For me it is fried chicken. Almost every SUnday my Grandmother made fried chicken in her electric frying pan. It sat on the kitchen table in front of the big window. We would pick her up for church and take her home and have fried chicken and little potatoes tha she cooked with the chicken. Haven’t thought of that in years and years. Thanks
    Sandi

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  • 33. Gerrie  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    What a beautiful story and memory. Thank you for sharing.

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  • 34. Mary  |  February 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I enjoyed your posting….my mom applied her lipstick the same way, blotting with TP and all….and I find it intriguing that now, at age 58, I still apply mine the same way. In fact, I used to laugh at how all of Mom’s used lipsticks were always flat on the top; not the pretty point they were when new. And yet that’s how all of mine look now. Mom’s perfume of choice would be Estee Lauder, in a variety of scents; someone would usually get her a “sampler” for Christmas. She’s been gone for 3 years now, but would have turned 97 this week. I’m sure they have cake and ice cream in Heaven, and I know she had her fill!

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  • 35. Beth  |  February 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    WOW! That was powerful. I lost my mother in August and the lipstick was orange. Didn’t matter that it looked horrible to me, she was still my mother.

    Thank you.

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  • 36. HelenMarie  |  February 25, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    My mom is still with me but I will never have memories like that of her. My memories are of my dear mother in law who was more of a mother to me than my own. When she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer Mom M. moved in with us as in-home hospice care was not available in her county. When she died, my girls and I emptied out her wardrobe and found the sexiest undies – we loved it that she was the most demure, sweet, ladylike person – and underneath it all was a siren! My favorite of the “things left behind” is her rolling pin. I think of all the wonerful things she baked and I can smell sugar cookies when I take it in hand! And now I am crying again. And remembering that tears make your eyes and your outlook brighter for shedding them!

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  • 37. Dorothy Cochran  |  February 25, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Smells are mysterious things. I saved some of Mom’s cotton clothes. Just a few favorites that I intend to use in a special way. They still have her scent after being washed and put away for 9 years.

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  • 38. susan  |  February 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I had to write and tell you how much your perfume memory touched me.
    My mom passed away 4 1/2 years ago after suffering from Dementia for almost 3 years. Tomorrow would have been her 100th birthday.
    I have a perfume cabinet on my bedroom wall filled with bottles of perfume, mostly empty now. This cabinet sat on
    my mom’s dresser forever. She never left her room without being immaculately dressed, made up and wearing perfume.
    And she never left the house without a hat either to match her outfit, shoes and bag, or without the adornment on the hat matching her outfit.
    I am allergic to perfume, I can’t wear it, or smell it without sneezing, but I do look at the Perfume Cabinet every day
    and feel ever so close to my mom.

    Thank you for sharing your precious memories with all of us.

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  • 39. Lisa Throneberry  |  February 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    There ya go, Ami! You are healing and that gives us all hope. I am so happy for you! I know what ya mean about the smells – I opened a box of my father’s stuff and immediately, it was like he was in the room. I let the aroma flood over me and felt his arms hug me. It’s all good. And I am so glad you are not ‘saving’ the Chanel Number 5. Dab that stuff on and feel your Mom loving you down to the soles of your feet! I was a “saver for later” but after helping my Dad and Mom thru the end of their lives, I have decided to savor it all today and not wait for tomorrow. You go girl! I’m proud of you!

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  • 40. Darlene B  |  February 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to your mom – and what wonderful memories you have of her! She sounds like a special lady.

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  • 41. kate  |  February 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Shortly after my high school graduation, my great-grandmother died at age 86. I was the only granddaughter and received her jewelry and things from her dressing table. Among them was a perfume bottle in a glitzy pink cardboard tube. The bottle is clear, empty, and has a purple plastic top. The brand was Richard Hudnutt (remember that?) and the variety was Yankee Clover. I put it in the Christmas decorations box and every year open it up to sniff Gramma Kate. She died in 1960 and the scent remains – as well as the memories it brings. Thanks for the reminder.

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  • 42. Shelley  |  February 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I still have my Mom, but have so enjoyed your memories and the comments posted by your readers. I remember when I was young, if my Mom put on lipstick, it meant, get in the car, because we were going somewhere! haha. We jokingly tell my new stepdad to do the same thing.

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  • 43. Sandy K  |  February 25, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Your post brought tears to my eyes because I also have a perfume that was my Moms. It is Gloria Vanderbilt….she used to change perfumes periodically as she got older and this is the one she had at the nursing home when she died in 2001. The color is a little darker, but the smell is the same. Every once in a while I will spray into the air and walk through it. If I close my eyes she is there.
    Even after 8 1/2 years I still think about calling her if I have a question about something that she would only know….just for a split second it will happen. We were very close also.

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  • 44. Connie  |  February 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    You sure gave a lot of people a nice gift on this lovely Thursday .

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  • 45. Judith A O'Dannel  |  February 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Oh, what beautiful memories. My Mother’s lipstick was Bravo by Revlon…………….her scent Chantilly. Oh, my how it takes me back.
    Thank you for letting me know that I am not the only one that holds their Mother’s memories close to their heart. How lucky we were to have such wonderful times.

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  • 46. Toddy Sumsky  |  February 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    My Mom wore Fabrasa “Woodhue”(I know the spelling is wrong, but oh well) I don’t think you can even find it anymore, but I can even recall the sent when I think of my mom and she has been gone for over 20 years. I still miss her, especialy on Thursday as we always called each other on Thursday morning just to talk. Oh well I know I will see her again.

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  • 47. Liinda Frihart  |  February 25, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Ami, thanks for the memories. I was just thinking of my mother the otehr day and how she wore White Shoulders and Channel #5 part of the time. Like your dear mother, she put a dab on her wrist and rubbed the opposite wrist plus behind ears. I squirt one wrist and rub the other — some things we don’t want to unlearn. I wore and loved Channel #5 for years.

    White Shoulders came in a beautiful pink satin box that had lace overlay. Mother would give one of us the box when the perfume was gone. The perfume bottle went in the hanky drawer.

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  • 48. Nancy Nelson  |  February 25, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    The above comments say it all. But my special meemories are of my maternal Grandmother. My Dad died when I was about 15 months old and my mom and I lived with my grandparents for several years. My house is filled with my Grandparents furniture, china, pictures and sundry other things. Their house still stands in Grandville near Grand Rapids. And I love driving by with the memories flooding in. We moved alot so Grandville will always be home to me and my grandparents more like parents. I often have dreams about them and the house. What joyous memories they are!!

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  • 49. Alexis Gerritsen  |  February 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Dear Ami, you reminded me of my own dear Mum. I keep her purse with money, driving licence, id etc.Her “smell” is still strong after 20 years, and I hope it always does.

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  • 50. paulette cassidy  |  February 25, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face yes it brought the same memories of my Mum and Grandma getting ready to go out and the wide eyed little girl watching and learning to be a lady ,my Mum is just starting on her jouney into the darkness and I fear what is ahead . Love you girl and your messages
    God Bless
    Paulette

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  • 51. Cathleen McSorley  |  February 25, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I can remember my mom smelling of Evening in Paris. There were 7 kids and I was the only girl and the oldest, so there wasn’t any money for items past shoes and uniforms. So birthdays and Christmas was her chance to receive it. I loved the blue bottle it was so pretty. I remember asking her if I could have the bottle when she was finished to put on my dresser. She said I could have it when/if she got another bottle. She must not have because I never got the bottle and I must have forgotten about it. LOL Thanks Ami, it has been a long time since I thought of good times when I was little.

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  • 52. Sue F  |  February 25, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Ami,
    I was so touched by your story. I too lost my dear Mom in 1988. I think of her daily. I too remember her preparing for work when I as a child in the late 50″s and 60’s. Powder, rouge and lipstick and she was done. I know she always smelled so good but don’t recall what she used. She was a waitress and always wore a pretty starched and ironed apron of which my job was to make sure the bow was tied just right in the back. A kiss & a hug was the best reward. I was blessed that her mind never failed although her body did. We will see them again some day and I’ll recheck that bow again.
    Hugs Sue F

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  • 53. Jenny Jones  |  February 25, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Scent memory is allows us to access memories in multiple ways. I believe that suddenly smelling scents, that are associated with our loved ones, tell us when our loved ones are thinking about us. My Mother wore Chanel #5 when I was young and also loved Neiman Marcus Rose Carnation Soap. When I smell either one, I know Mom is near.
    My Grandmother also saved things for good and I finally started telling her that “The Queen is not coming for tea, so quit saving it for good. Good is now.”
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. You provide a community of shared experiences and memories that helps alleviate the feeling of being in it alone.

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  • 54. Sally  |  February 25, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Ami, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. You have such a gift of putting into words what the heart is feeling, both happy and sad. I lost my mom 3 years ago and I have not finished going through her “things” yet. When I need a “Mom”fix, it’s so nice to get out a box and look through some of Mom’s treasures, bringing back so many cherished memories.Just running across her favorite spatula evokes memories of molasses cookies waiting on the table for us when we got off the school bus so many years ago. I cannot smell a loaf of bread baking without remembering her punching down the dough on the kitchen table…..okay, I’ll stop here before I write an entire book…..just let me say thanks again for sharing this with us.

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  • 55. Norma Storm  |  February 25, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    What a wonderful story about BeeBe. She was a great person as well as your favorite Mom. It’s terrific that you can remember her in so many ways.
    My own Mom has been gone for 48 years now, and I still miss her. But it’s so good to be able to remember her out picking HUGE blueberries for the first time! And riding on the trolly cars in Detroit with her….a whole lifetime of remembering. Keep up the good work and enjoy the perfume. Love, Norma

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  • 56. mary t. martin  |  February 25, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    What a beautiful memory. It seemed as if my mom always had a full apron and white socks on with black shoes with a little heel. She never seemed to be in a rush as I am. Of course, she didn’t drive which could be a blessing.

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  • 57. Leanne  |  February 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    When I was 16 years old, I went to Europe on a school trip. Coming home we went through the duty-free shop and I had some money to spend. I asked one of the (male) teachers what a good perfume was, and his answer was that a lady could never go wrong with Chanel No. 5.

    I’m now 45 years old, and over the years have tried a different smell or two, but have always come back to Chanel No. 5. It’s just me.

    My husband’s mother also wears it, and I think part of the reason he married me is because I smell like his Mom!!!

    I know my kids all associate the fragrance with me, and I too wear it with jeans and sneakers or whatever. If I’m going out, I’ll do a few extra squirts on some of my warm spots :)

    Thanks for the beautiful story. I hope my family has a similar one about me some day. Except they probably won’t find any spare perfume, because I’m not saving it for anything special but today.

    Leanne,
    who lost her father-in-law to Alzheimer’s

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  • 58. debbie  |  February 25, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Ami…Thanks for the wonderful message today. I lost my mom last August, I have one of her sweatshirts hanging in my sewing room for “the mom smell” Let me share with all of you a wonderful website http://www.spoonflower.com you can scan and send info to them, they print it on fabric. I saw a project made from custom designed fabric at Christmas. My mom had tons of handwritten recipes…a friend is going to help me scan them and then get it printed. I can just see aprons, table runners, etc. made with the fabric with her handwriting on it. I too remember the lipstick and the spiked heels she wore when going out with my dad. I still have him and am enjoying my time with him. Keep the wonderful memories coming!!! xoxo

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  • 59. Martha  |  February 25, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Your story is close to universal — and we are all loving it. A special addition to my memory of Mother’s perfume, is that after a horrific car accident when my Dad was in a coma for weeks, Mother would drench herself in the perfume as she visited him the ten minutes allowed every hour, “knowing” that her scent would remind his sleeping brain that she was near, and waiting for him to wake up. He did wake up, and was quite fine again, and she was always sure the Rive Gauche had done the trick.

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  • 60. Very Terry  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    My mom wore Chanel Number 5 too, but I haven’t thought of that for a long time. I did have a vivid Mom memory yesterday though, when I sniffed some cinnamon. I was instantaneously 5 years old again and Mom was making cinnamon toast. It’s amazing what memories a smell can evoke.

    Thanks Ami. :o)

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  • 61. elizabeth travis  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for the memories.my Mother has been gone since ’64. I still talk to her – she’s a great listener.My Mother had a great love for plants and could grow anything. I think of her more when i’m caring for my plants especially the pink shamrocks as they were always in our kitchen window

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  • 62. Sandy R  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    My memory isn’t a fragrance but rather a moment. It seemed every time I saw down at my sewing machine and got no more than a few stitches in, Mom would call me and always ask, “What are you doing?” Now when I sit down to sew, I always glance at the phone as if expecting it to ring and having my mother on the other end. I miss her more each day.

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  • 63. Bud Gottesman  |  February 26, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I am constantly amazed at the beautiful things you ladies write. You are all so sensitive and accomplished in your writing. Ami, you are wonderful and your memories of your mom (my sister) always touch an extremely sensitive chord in me.f
    Your fantastic writing should be at the top of every best selling book list. Please write more.

    love from uncle Bud

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  • 64. sharon  |  February 26, 2010 at 1:16 am

    to quilterjan…Your mom’s perfume was “Tigress” by Faberge.

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  • 65. Sue  |  February 26, 2010 at 1:55 am

    This description of your Mom reminded me of myself! I always wore Chanel No 5 as well, but when I turned 50, I became very sensitive to wearing scents, and had to stop. This perfume was akways OK, even after a long time, so enjoy it.

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  • 66. Betty  |  February 26, 2010 at 6:52 am

    You have lovely memories of your Mom. My Mom also saved every new nightgown or robe she received for “when she went to the hospital.” She never did until later years, when the night wear was long gone. I never found the nightgowns among her things. I hope she used them through the years.

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  • 67. Linda Fergie Ferguson  |  February 26, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Thank you for your wonderful entry. I have recently lost my mom and I sit in the evening wrapped in a faux fur throw that still smells of her perfume. Little things that bring back wonderful memories.
    Hugs-Fergie in WA

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  • 68. betty  |  February 26, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I have a similar memory of my mother. When she & Dad would be going out to some military function she would put on her perfume. I don’t know what kind it was but it came in a little bottle with a Christmas bell attached to it. How I remember the sound of that litlle bell! She would be sitting in front of her vanity putting on the pearls that Dad brought back from Japan. How I miss her and those innocent times. She passed away in 1993 but I still have that vanity, bequeathed to my daughter, her only granddaughter. And,yes, somewhere in Mother’s treasured keepsakes is that perfume bottle and her strand of pearls.

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  • 69. Laura  |  February 26, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for sharing that with us. We all have little ways to remember the ones we love..thank goodness for Memory! Feel like I’m losing mine a lot of the time so trying any trick I can to keep things fresh.

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  • 70. Martha  |  February 26, 2010 at 11:15 am

    I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s almost four years ago. I’m one of three daughters for whom Mom sewed everything- dresses, coats, doll clothes. And she cleaned and cooked too! Don’t know how she found the time. Maybe not driving helped. Her scent was Coty face powder. Every time I run across that rust colored box I have to pick it up for a sniff. Ami, thank you for sharing your scent memories.

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  • 71. Susan Gardner  |  February 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I was going to comment after reading everyone elses comments, but my eyes are so teary, I had to just write and say how all the memories come flooding back even though my mom died when I was only 8. She had this red dress that I always wanted to wear when I grew up, when dad got rid of it I was broken hearted. He just had no idea…
    My mom wore something that smelled like lilly of the valley I think of her every time I smell it.
    Susan in Central Oregon

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  • 72. Jean Whiteaker  |  February 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Thanks for the memory, Ami. My mom passed away in 1998, and I still have her perfume of choice, White Shoulders — I think we all think of our moms when we smell their favorite perfume – I also have the off-white knit jacket (which she made) that she wore non-stop for about 10 years, I just can’t throw it away, I keep trying.

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  • 73. anna  |  February 27, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Ami,
    My first serious boyfriend gave me Chanel #5. For awhile, I did not enjoy the fragrance after we broke up but now it is a sweet reminder of days long gone by. My mother wore “Evening in Paris ” when I was young but mostly she always washed with Dove soap- that is her fragrance to me. When she goes out she always wears lipstick – even if it is just shopping.
    Your olfactory sense is one of your strongest senses. About 18 months after my grandfather died, I took my school kids to a farm for a field trip. My grandparents had a farm and I was not prepared to for the flood of smells that descended on me that day. It was a very emotional experience for me- the fragrance of hay and the milk just about did me in.
    Glad to know you are enjoying wearing your mom’s fragrance. It is meant to be used not just stored in a drawer. Perhaps it makes you feel a little closer to her- I know that my grandmother fragrances do that for me.
    Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of Alzheimer victims. My mother in law has Alzheimer’s and it has been a painful journey for us all. She is still with us in body but not very much in other ways. Some day I will make a quilt to honor her- I am just not there yet.
    Warmest regards,
    Anna

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  • 74. Judy  |  February 28, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    You hit a lot of special memories in one email. My Mom taught me that you’re not fully dressed til you have perfume on. I love the “lipstick” — hopefully my three daughters will have some of the same for me. I had to forward this to my sister and my daughters. My Mom is gone, but certainly not forgotten. Thank you for sharing!

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  • 75. Sherry  |  March 1, 2010 at 11:06 am

    My mother also wore Chanel Number 5. She passed away in 1965 just before my 18th birthday. I can still remember the scent of her perfume. She also only wore it when she and my father were going out. She had some beautiful atomizers that he had bought for her in Paris during the war. She had a little bit of the perfume left and I also only wore it on special occasions like my Senior Prom, graduation, etc. I have not purchased any since I used it up, but I always try to get a little scent of it in the department stores.

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  • 76. Nancy  |  March 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    WOW, Memories of Smells: Mom wore Evening in Paris- then Avon, which was way too strong for me. I remember most of all her frying chicken, that smell is still so very fresh and comforting for me. I still kept and safe her tubes of lip sticks, Just to have and hold She did not quilt, ask I do, but was still hand sewing and at her machine 65 years old, almost everyday, until she passes at almost 90..

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  • 77. Karen  |  March 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Yes, Ami!! It’s all so true. My mom wore two scents…Chanel #5, and an old discontinued fragrance by Avon, called “Here’s My Heart.” She passed away 5 years ago next week, and although I can now think of her without falling apart, it still makes me weep. Losing one’s mom is like losing that “safety net” in your life. I grew up in the 50’s and early 60’s and my mom was absolutely the carbon copy of your description…high heels, red lipstick, a little bit of eyebrow pencil, and that was it. She was one of the most beautiful women in our town and everyone loved her. She belonged to women’s clubs with names like “Junior Halcyon” and “Psi Omega.” She and my dad would sometimes have people in to play cards and they would all be smoking and drinking highballs. I loved to evesdrop from the top of the stairs. I myself rarely wear any makeup at all even now, and I can still hear her say to me whenever I leave the house, “Karen, put on a little lipstick. You look so pale!”

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  • 78. Barbara  |  March 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Your comments about your special memories of your mother when you smell Chanel No. 5, reminds me of the bottle of after-shave I have on the dresser. After my husband died, all I have to do is loosen the cap and take a whiff and enjoy beautiful memories of him. best regards.

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  • 79. Dawn  |  March 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    My mom’s signature scent was her Coty bath powder…I don’t even know if they make it anymore. When I was little, I spilled a whole container of it inside a dresser drawer in her bedroom and she was never able to get it out of the drawer properly. She has been gone 20 years now, and sometimes I still go down in my basement (where her old bedroom furniture is stored) and open the drawer that I know has her scent in it; it brings her back to me as clear as if she were standing there.

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  • 80. Janny  |  March 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I miss my mom and dad.
    I wear a ring that belonged to my mom, she got it from her grandmother and I wear my fathers watch that he got from his work when he retired.
    Tears are in my eyes now and I don’t mind.
    My moms perfume was 4911 eau de cologne.
    I sometimes smell it when I visit someone in a nursinghome.
    Thank you for these unexpected memories.

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  • 81. Yvonne  |  March 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I wear Chanel 5 and your post brought tears to me eyes. I tried Chanel 5 when I was in my 20’s and it was obviously a good one for me, so last Xmas I asked my husband to buy me some.

    I love it. I have memories of my own mother and perfume as well. She likes Nina Ricci now, and I need to call her right now!

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  • 82. Lori  |  May 20, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Such a beautiful post, Ami! I could never wear my mom’s perfume because it just doesn’t smell good on me. I do follow random women around when they smell like my mom though. So far I haven’t been arrested. And I sniff deeply of my oldest daughter when she smells like Mom. She deals with it.

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  • 83. pst  |  February 1, 2014 at 10:10 am

    So precious as I think of my own mom. Mom has dementia. Living at home with my brother. 88 years old. Loves to look at my picture quilts of memories she struggles to keep. Thank you, Ami, for these quilt ideas. Mom says now when I am gone this is for you to keep!!

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