Memories of My Grandmother

I was sitting opposite a woman on the train today who smelled like my grandma. I assume she had the same perfume that my grandma used to wear. I never knew what it was, but she smelled of it, her flat smelled of it, her clothes smelled of it. Even after she died, that smell lingered in the empty flat.

She’s been dead ten years now, my grandmother. I guess I don’t think of her as often as I should. Suddenly, with that smell, a smell I haven’t encountered since she died, all these memories came back. I remember her face. Soft skin lined with many wrinkles (when I was a child I called them ‘crinkles’). Her hair was thinning – she wore it dyed reddish brown, short and curly. She went to bed every night with it adorned with curlers like Hilda Ogden. She had bad feet – swollen and bunion-ridden. She had bad legs – riddled with varicous veins. She had dentures that didn’t fit properly, and she would make an inadvertent whistling noise with any word that contained the letter ‘S’ (including of course my name).

She always seemed old to me, as I suppose most people regard their grandparents. Yet in spite of that she was full of boundless energy, running around with me and my sister when we were children, even after our parents were worn out.

I sometimes regret the fact I didn’t always have time to listen to her stories. I regret the fact that at times I thought she drove me crazy. She didn’t live long enough to see any of her grandchildren get married, or to meet any of her great-grandchildren (she had five granddaughters, including me, and three of the others have kids now).

But it’s strange that I haven’t thought of her in a long time, and suddenly all these memories come to the surface, all because of a perfume a stranger on the train was wearing. I have heard it said that the sense of smell is the most powerful sensory trigger for memory. I think perhaps this must be true.

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1 comment so far

  1. sputnitsa on

    This is a lovely post, Sara. Funny how that happens. Gives us a chance to embrace a treasure trove of memories again…


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