Thursday, March 1, 2012

Things on Thursday: Our Sense of Smell

Early last week, Nick and I took a meal to a family in our church. The mom in the family is a friend and Nick's Sunday school teacher. Her family is going through so much hard stuff right now. They just moved my friend's father, who suffers from Alzheimers, from another state into a care facility nearby. This move comes because my friend's mother recently received a terminal cancer diagnosis and will soon move in with my friend so she can care for her as she dies.

My friend is about to become the filling in a generational sandwich, caring for her two small children on one side and a dying mother and a father who doesn't recognize her on the other.

I'd never been to her house before I delivered the meal. It's a lovely home, warm and welcoming. Her husband apologized for the sock on the kitchen island, and I replied I had two on my kitchen island that were covered in dog spit.

I wasn't just being nice. That was the truth. He looked relieved and said, "Oh, you do understand."

Nick and I delivered the meal, offered more meals as needed in the future, and left. As we drove away, Nick said, "Her house smelled like Grandma Dianne's old house. I loved the way Grandma Dianne's house smelled. It smelled good."

I think what Nick smelled in my mom's house and in his Sunday school teacher's house was a combination of aged wood and love in action.

Lots and lots of love.

What smells do you associate with love? An old home in which you felt blessed and carefree? Apple pie? Chocolate cake? A rib roast roasting on Christmas day? Fresh desert air and sage? A pine forest? A public garden? Tilled earth? Jergens lotion? A library full of dusty old books? The halls of an elementary school? Puppy breath and frito paws? Baby powder? Fresh-picked tomatoes? Tobacco smoke? A wood fire?

What smells take you someplace safe and warm and wonderful?


  1. My heart goes out to that family... bless you for making them feel it's okay and you understand.

    Smells are such a memory trigger. My aunt who worked in a psych ward said they can't wear perfume due to the strong memories it brings up. I loved the smell of my grandmother's house and barn - and once in a while I get exposed to those smells and go right back to the fun childhood memories I had there with my brother. Certain perfumes/colognes remind me of people, certain baking smells, freshly fallen snow of skiing, the list could go on forever. Thanks for the walk down memory lane :)

  2. The seashore (we've had a family cabin on the beach of the Straits of Juan de Fuca since I was little.)

    A baby.




    Baked goods.


    Crayola crayons.


    Clothes that have been dried outside.

    Christmas trees.



    Bon fire.

    And much, much more.

  3. Bless you for being a good neighbor. I now live in the City-we don't seem to have neighbors like that here.

    Crayolas (though they've changed the formula in the lasst year and they don't smell half as good-must have been the carcinogens...)

    Apple pie

    Frying onions, bacon, garlic

    Candles, especially after you blow them out-then it smells like the church of my childhood after sevice ended...they were beeswax and wonderful!

    The chest of drawers in my dining room-it came from my husband's bedroom, and if I open the drawers carefully, I can still smell my husband's childhood home. Darn I miss my mother-in-law, Polly.


    Roasting meat-snells like my Mom's kitchen on Sunday. She used to put a roast in the oven when we went to church, and coming home was just heavenly!

  4. You are a wonderful friend. Sometimes just knowing someone cares and understands can make it bit better.

    The combination of crayola crayons and chalk dust catapult me back to kindergarden. I loved my first year of school.

    Dove soap, my husband wears nothing else and always smells so good.

    Homemade spaghetti sauce. My mom made it every week; at least four of us kids will have nothing to do with the stuff from jars.

    Homemade bread. My mom went through a phase where we ate nothing but homemade for a few years. We would come home from school and she would be pulling cinnamon bread from the oven. The seven of us would devour a whole loaf, warm, dripping with butter. She would time that bread so it was ready when we got home. That's love!

    Lilacs. Our house had a dwarf lilac planted outside my daughter's bedroom window. In the spring with those windows open; it was a heavenly aroma. It was one of the things we loved about the house.

    Ummm, there are many more; thank you for the lovely memories.

  5. The smell of fresh cut grass always makes me think of my childhood!

  6. two came to mind immediately...butter on rye Irish paternal grandmother's after church on Sunday...slowly the house would fill with aunts, uncles, cousins by the dozens, philosophers, comedians and the day would tumble forward with lively conversation...some wise, some funny, some tense, all stimulating...
    The 2nd is baby powder...brings a sense of calm and all's right with the world...and of course wonderful memories of my 3 baby boys...and the hope of many grandchildren!!!

  7. This post made me cry. Yes, walking into my family home at dinner time was the best. My mom was a very good cook. Those are such happy memories for me. Now that she has been gone for over ten years, the family home just doesn't seem right without smelling the home cooked meals anymore. Since I'm still semi-homeless, I miss those little details that make a house a home.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!