Viewer Mail: A Mother's Fragrant Legacy




Dear Katie,

My name is Emily, I’m 26 years old and I'm from Baltimore. I wanted to share a story with you that I hope you'll appreciate.

My incredible mother, Robyn, passed away on January 10th of this year after an over thirty year battle with multiple sclerosis. She was a beautiful woman inside and out, and while my heart aches that she's gone, I know she's no longer in pain.

For as long as I could remember, my mother had her perfume collection on her dresser. The one that sticks out clearly in my head is Van Cleef & Arpels First -- that was her signature scent.


I started collecting fragrances about four years ago, and I didn't realize it at the time, but it's one of the many things I had in common with my mom. Over the years, people would comment on how much I looked and acted like her. Recently, a friend of hers phoned to check in on me and said, "I don't think you realize how much you sound like your mother. You even have the same mannerisms she did when she was your age."

The Saturday after my mom died, my sister and I had the painful task of cleaning out her room at the nursing home where she'd lived for nine years (her condition had worsened to the point of her being a quadriplegic).

Amongst the collection of pictures of her family, wind chimes, and her laptop (which she affectionately called “the piece of sh*t she can’t live without”), she had her designated shelf for her beloved fragrance collection.

She had Lolita Lempicka, Marc Jacobs Daisy, and Chanel Chance, to name a few. She also had her trusty bottle of First. My sister hesitantly picked it up, sprayed it, and we both started crying because we could smell our mom but we couldn’t see her.


As we were cleaning the room, one of the nurses at the home told us how the woman who lived next door always loved the way my mom smelled and wanted to know if she could have a bottle of perfume. My sister and I went to the woman's room and gave her the bottle of Daisy. Her eyes lit up and she said, "Thank you. Now I'll have something to always remember your mother."

Throughout the day, more residents would stop by and offer their condolences. Some of them could barely speak due to their disabilities, but we could tell they were affected by my mom's death.

It was almost comical how my sister and I kept offering perfumes to passersby like we were a couple of Avon ladies, but it was somewhat comforting to know that even though she's gone, her legacy will carry on and she will continue to bring happiness to people for whom happiness is a rarity.


 I'm looking to purchase a bottle of “First”, not only to add to my collection, but to feel comforted by having her scent with me when I need it.

I'm sorry if I rambled and carried on. I'm a bit of a "yenta", just like my mom was.

Take care and be well,
Emily

24 comments:

  1. Smell and memory are so intrinsically linked. I think of my mother whenever i smell Chanel 19. Lovely post.

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  2. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. That was a really touching post, for what its worth, in our religion Islam we believe that pryers & charities do reach our beloved dead people as blessings and happiness. Thats exactly what Emily & her sister did for their mother. Hessa

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  4. Thank you for sharing this post. It is a wonderful and beautiful way to remember Robyn... a woman loved by many.

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  5. That story was filled with love and The magic of perfume. Simply lovely.

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  6. Mothers are responsible for olfactory good memories.

    Kisses from Brasil,
    Dâmaris

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  7. Thank you all for your kind words! (And congratulations for getting through my King Lear-esque soliloquy!) I figured Katie would be the best person to share my story with and am so happy all of you have the chance to read it and get to know a little about a wonderful woman.

    Much love to you all,
    Emily

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    1. Emily, i am so very sorry for your loss. My mom had decades of ill health, and she lost her battle with illness last year. I have her fragrances, too ( Poivre, by Caron, and 24 Fouberge, and Arpege). I sniff them sometimes, to bring comfort. I have to be careful too, because sometime sit just makes me cry.

      Thank you,

      Carole

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    2. Carole, I know what you mean about being careful. You have to choose your moment for conjuring your much-missed loved ones.

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    3. Dearest Emily , Thanks for sharing your story . I share passion for erfume with my Mom too , and still give her decants of things I know she will like . I tell her allthe time " Please don't die with perfume on your dresser . USE IT UP !!! "
      I have a purse spray of vintage First parfum if you would like to have it , the reformulations are so not the same . E-mail me and I will send it !!
      hugs , Carol ( kafa at aug dot com )

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  8. What a lovely, lovely post, Emily. And Katie: that should have come with a warning about guaranteed tears! :)

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  9. it is just so generous of you to share this story. You are very young to lose your mother and my heart goes out to you. Truly you do her honour by sharing this story as you did her perfumes.

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  10. What a touching story and how sweet of Emily and her sister to give away those perfums to the people at the nursing home.
    Emily,treasure the sweet memories of your mother.

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  11. Emily,

    That was a very sad and charming story. What a great way to honor your mother!

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  12. That was a sad yet fantastic story.
    Adding to what others have said, I think the whole perfume giving made you and your sister realize how loved was you mother during her lasts years and many people went to you to offer their condolences and hoping to have something of your mother's to remember her.
    It's sad to lose a beloved one but be happy, she was loved.

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  13. Thank you for your story... I had the lovely interaction with my mother and her perfumes, and my own fragrance wearing too. She loved Sortilege, by Le Galion, which I was able to obtain for her once, while in Paris in 1978, after it became hard to find in the USA. Later, in fact in the past few years, I was able to obtain more for her through the internet, for which she was very grateful, almost overwhelmed, esp because I could get enough for her to actually wear it, instead of horde it.

    My Mom loved how I wore Grey Flannel, which I started to wear in about 1980. She tried to get her boyfriends to wear it for her, but it always failed, because she could only think of me.

    My own wearing of Grey flannel, and her love of Sortilege were both a part of my scentual path to become a Perfumer.

    Mom passed last November, after her cancer/Leukemia battle.

    Consequently, I have a stock of Sortilege now, if someone needs any...

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    1. Thank you, Paul, for sharing this whiff of your lovely relationship with your mom. Very touching.

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  14. Wow, I'm a bit emotional lately but this made me cry!

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  15. Emily, that was a very touching, well written story. I love this sentence: "My sister hesitantly picked it up, sprayed it, and we both started crying because we could smell our mom but we couldn’t see her."

    That sums up the power of perfume very well.

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  16. I wish I could find the right words to do justice to your story, but all I can say is "thank you."

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