I arrived at church a little late. The music had begun, and the seats were full. An usher held up one finger. I nodded my head, and followed him up the aisle. He turned and gestured me into a row with one vacant seat. I climbed over an elderly lady, offered apologies, and settled into the padded chair.
It was then that I was overcome with the smell of mothballs. I’m one of those people that cannot handle odors. The mere hint of certain perfumes would normally have me re-apologizing as I climbed back over the odoriferous offender, in an effort to escape.
I breathed deeply. The scent of mothballs was oddly familiar. And comforting. My nanny’s house often smelled of mothballs. And antique furniture polish. And of years of built up grease residue from the thousands of chickens that gave up their lives to become a delicious fried chicken dinner.
I closed my eyes and remembered that tiny house, with its comforting smells.
But there was something else.
I leaned in to my left just a little. As if shifting in my seat. Yes, that was it. I smelled a slightly sweet scent. Unmistakably the aroma of White Shoulders perfume.
I gave my nanny a bottle of White Shoulders every single Christmas. I don’t know if she loved it that much, or if she wore it simply because I gave it to her.
I breathed in a little more deeply. And scooted a little closer to my temporary neighbor. I don’t think she noticed. She was intently reading her Bible.
Or perhaps praying that the weird sniffing lady on her right would get the heck out of her space.
I wiped away a single tear. Oh how I miss my nanny. In just a few short weeks, I will commemorate the 20th anniversary of her death. It’s funny how a certain smell will close the gap of time. And catapult me back to a simpler moment.
As I sat there, breathing evenly, I remembered the sights, smells, and comfort of my nanny’s house. And I could almost hear her voice. Singing a song of praise to Jesus.
I could only imagine if she had been sitting next to me in that church row. How joyful she would have been that all that fervent persistent praying that she and my pa put in atop arthritic knees on my behalf had paid off.
Miracles really do happen, and that a once very lost but loved granddaughter was sitting contentedly in a church, with hands raised, praising Jesus in song.
Nanny, Pa, Me & Jimmy
(Clearly, my fashion sense was already well developed)