Smell of Memories

April 13th, 2013

Away from home for a week, I finally return to town and after attending the visitation for my Grandmas funeral, I head to my parents home–the house that use to belong to my Grandparents.

As I open the basement door and head downstairs I am stopped by the familiar scent, the smell I associate with Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

It is a strange smell and unexpected, though not unpleasant. It is also fleeting as my body quickly adjust to the new surroundings. My heart sinks as the smell becomes imperceptible.

The smell is unique to this now fourty year old house and brings back a sensation of childhood visits. Over the thirteen years my family has now lived in this house the smell has become less common, or at least less noticed. It is only after an extended time away that I am able to catch a faint wiff of that unreproducable aroma.

Both grandparents on that side of my family are gone now, done with the troubles of this life and enjoying the endless bliss of eternal life. The familiar tangle of emotions–sadness mixed with joy–tug my heart and face in several conflicting directions while I’m paused on the staircase.

The last few steps down the stairs are slower and I duck my head instinctively to avoid the low ceiling at the bottom. I do not know the source of the smell, though I wish I did. If I could take a square of carpet or a chunk of wall and bottle up the fragrance I would. I can think of nothing more nostalgic or memorable.

My grandparents had been married for 67 years and left a legacy behind them. Children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, art in the form of paintings, pottery, and woodcraft, stories, memories, and yes, even smells.

I’m not alone in noticing this. My siblings and friends also note the aroma. The house still has a loyalty to the couple that built it and lived in it for 30 years. I do not know how long the smell will linger, perhaps it will always be there to greet newcomers and welcome returning loved ones home. I hope that it is.