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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)


15 Responses to Scentimental

  • Yeah, there’s always hope for the “apparently” hopeless! Praise God! c”,)

  • Beautifully done, DeeDee. Just perfect.

  • I love those smells that bring back wonderful memories!

  • What a nice reminder of your grandmother!

  • I love smells like that. I to had a great grandmother who had a deep love of moth balls. Whe she passed away years ago I go her cedar chest. I opened to find it full of moth balls. I tried to have it refinished inside but the smell never came out. So I just put the moth balls back in there and when ever I am missing her, I open it and take in a deep breath. I am brought back to a time when I was young and remember her house, her smile and the abundance of love the gave!

  • Ok go with me on this…I think it was your Nanny just sitting there next to you perhaps in this other ladys body, or perhaps her spirit was sitting between the two of you. I know that sounds like I have been hitting the bottle early today lol. But I have had similar experiences like that. 🙂

  • That is just precious. Thank you for sharing her memory with us.

  • What a lovely post. I hope I leave memories/smells or special somethings for my grandchildren to remember and love. Thanks.

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  • I am sensitive to certain smells, too — and mothballs are one that unfortunately make me feel ill!!

    But I loved this remembrance of a special grandmother and the knowledge that she must be rejoicing in heaven over the way the Lord has worked in your life.

    Love the picture!

  • What a beautiful tribute to honor your nanny!

  • Well done… what a precious gift God has given us with all of those senses to remind us of loved ones…

  • Wonderful tribute post. There are many smells that make me think of wonderful people or times in my life. I love those little reminders.

    I called my grandma Nanny too.

  • Thank you for sharing your heart DeeDee. My grandmother passed away only a few years ago and I still miss her too.

  • I just love how smells can take you back like that! It’s the sense most closely tied to memory in the brain.