Hello dollies! This year my friends Gail from Is This Mutton and Deb from Deb’s World have come up with a new monthly blogging series “Tell Us About…..” They are sharing cohosting duties with Mary Katherine from MK’s Adventures in Style, Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper, and Jill from Grownup Glamour. This creative writing challenge invites bloggers to respond to a different prompt on the third Thursday of the month. The gals will be taking turns coming up with the prompts and this month Jill chose the word scent. Here are my thoughts for this month’s 03.2023 Tell Us About…
03.2023 TELL US ABOUT
I am writing this post on my mother’s birthday. The first birthday after her death. Strange how we mark milestones in regards to birth and death. In August it will be the one year anniversary of her death. Not sure if today, 03.21.2023 or that day, 08.02.2023 will be harder. Probably equally difficult. Here she is on her 95th birthday last year.
Today I am thinking about Mom, missing her terribly and wishing I could talk to her again. Selfishly. There is so much I want her to know. And maybe she already knows it all anyway. But I need to talk to her. I was telling Lauren in a phone call just a few minutes ago that for me when life gives you lemons, you don’t make lemonade…you call your mom. How I miss being able to do that. She has talked me off the ledge for so many years. Wish she could do that today.
Chanel No 19
I am writing this post through the tear-filled eyes. It won’t be long. But just wanted to share a quick story about scent.
As you may have gathered from prior mention of my mother on my blog, Nira Jean was a character. I could write volumes about her personality and quirks and colloquial expressions. She never cared much about clothes or make-up from what I remember of my childhood. (She became quite the clothes horse later in life) My father would buy her beautiful things…clothing, jewelry, shoes, scarves and lingerie. But Mom would often return them. The gifts he brought home for her from trips to Europe and Japan, Mom couldn’t return, so those things were often tucked into a drawer or onto a shelf at the top of her closet. Darn my big feet, or I could have inherited some lovely Italian shoes. My darn big breasts allowed me to fit right into her hand-me-down black lace slip that she gave me years ago. Thankful for that.
I don’t remember Mom wearing fragrance during my childhood. Not the younger years, at least. But I remember finding a bottle of Chanel No 19 in her top dresser drawer and being amazed that she had a Chanel fragrance at all. Of course, it wasn’t No 5. But it was only 14 numbers off. I remember it smelling heavy and floral, maybe. Probably way over the top for my mom. When I asked her about it, she gave me the bottle and I wore it my freshman year of college.
In searching for a photo of a bottle of this perfume, I stumbled across this beautiful blog, Bois de Jasmin: a Primer of Sensory Pursuits. This article explains the significance of No 19 – Coco Chanel’s birthday was 08.19. The author of the post, Victoria Belim-Frolova, describes Chanel No 19 this way:
Chanel No. 19 needs no words of praise because its beauty renders them superfluous. Even its seemingly difficult facets—the aggressive verdancy of galbanum, the woody duskiness of iris—are arranged in such a harmonious manner that one cannot but admire how the green, vibrant top notes melt into the leathery darkness of the base.
Yup, sounds over the top for Mom.
Either for Christmas or one birthday when Mom was probably in her ’40s, my father – I think – bought her some Revlon Jean Naté after bath body splash. She loved it!! The citrusy-fresh floral notes became her signature fragrance. Now that was more like it.
We were all thrilled to have something to buy her. And wear it she did. In a big way. She wound up having bottles for spraying, bottles for dabbing and containers of talcum powder with which she used a fluffy white powder puff to douse herself from head to toe with the stuff. Everything in my parents’ tiny en suite bathroom was covered with a fine layer of Jean Naté powder.
Back in those days, we didn’t know the apparent dangers of dusting one’s delicate feminine parts with powder. My mom powdered us up and down, front and back when we were babies. Or as she would have said…”Up as far as POSSIBLE, down as far as POSSIBLE” and then POSSIBLE. She powdered herself and her POSSIBLE all her life. No ovarian (or any other) cancer.
My Signature Fragrance
Those who love me say I have a signature fragrance. The little grands will say *that* smells like Gabba-house. When I send her packages, Cady, my oldest granddaughter, will say they smelled like Mimi. Even PC says I have a signature smell.
When I first met Paul, he was a big gamer, Dungeons and Dragons, Day of Defeat. He liked dragons and castles. And we started playing an online game called “Utopia” together. I was not a gamer in any sense of the word. But liked doing things that he liked to do. I always chose to be a fairy or elf when we played Utopia. So when we found a perfume called Esencia de Duende or Essence of Elf, I couldn’t buy it fast enough.
Was very sad when it ran out.
Now days I probably smell more like a combination of patchouli and a random Bath and Body Works body spray. In the winter, I like Twisted Peppermint, Vanilla Noel and their stress relief formula with Eucalyptus + Spearmint – probably should be drinking that stuff for the time being. This spring, I have been wearing a lot of White Tee Shirt with my patchouli. And Lucky Brand’s Lucky You cologne mixed with patchouli is always a favorite.
Mom is Sending Signs
With Mom’s birthday approaching, and all of the worries around PC latest health problems, I have been pretty emotional. Have wished I could talk to my parents about all that is going on. I can write to them, as Brennyn suggested, but it isn’t the same as hearing their voices.
Throughout the last few weeks, I have been sad but surprisingly unable to cry. Until today. My daughters both called to check on me first thing and I remained fairly staunch. No tears. But then when I read my brother and sister’s tributes to our mother on Facebook, I began to weaken. When a bottle of Jean Naté appeared in my Pinterest feed, the flood gates opened. I have cried for about 2 hours. Finally drying up now in time to carry on with the rest of my day. But this was a tough one.
I had prayed for a sign that my mom was aware of the struggles we are facing, was somewhere out there, in heaven, watching over us. And I have received at least 3 signs. So, Mom, and God, if you are reading this, thank you, and thank You.
Do you have strong associations with certain fragrances? This is truly just the tip of the iceberg for me as I associate smells with all kinds of memories and people. I lost my sense of taste and smell for a short time with Covid. So glad they were both returned to me.
Please stop by to visit the 03.2023 Tell Us About posts of my hostesses. I am certain they will have eloquent recollections of the ways scent impacts their lives. Have often wondered how my virtual friends smell…is that an odd thing to say? Well, even so, it’s true. So won’t you leave a comment below to let me know how you smell. And you can’t say WITH YOUR NOSE!!
Thank you for joining me today. So thankful for family and friends.
Hugs and kisses,
Leslie….sending you a huge hug this afternoon. After so many birthdays (such a long life!), this first one without your mom is so heartbreaking. I hope wonderful memories – like that precious photo above – will continue to comfort you and speak to your heart in just the right ways! I do remember Jean Nate (I guess from ads etc) but cannot say that I know what it smells like! But speaking of baby bath treatments….there is something quite amazing about fresh babies covered in lotion and powder. Talk about memories!!
One more hug – Jennifer
Leslie Roberts Clingan
Thank you for the hugs and kind words. How are you feeling, sweet friend? Hope with the arrival of spring you are getting more spring in your step again.
We were so fortunate to have my mom for so long. And she had many struggles (life-long that we didn’t realize as my dad protected us), especially in later life. But we had an opportunity to make many memories. I miss just being able to hear her sage advice.
Nowadays, whatever Bath and Body I grab out of the basket on the dresser… Aqua di Gio when we met… Glacier in high school… Old Spice that rubbed off on me from sitting on grandpa’s lap when i was little. 😺
Leslie Roberts Clingan
You always smell good, sweet PC. No matter which smell you pick out of the basket. Funny that you have fond memories of Old Spice. I do, too. Uncle Bubby.
Hello dear Leslie. Thank you for sharing these memories of your mom. Sending you a big virtual hug.
Leslie Roberts Clingan
Thank you. My mom has sent me several messages this week so I am feeling reunited with her in a way. It is wonderful
I know exactly how you feel Leslie. I lost my father 2 months ago. And I wished I could here him say my name once more, and that we could talk! It’s hard isn’t it, to lose a parent. Sending you lots of strength!
Leslie Roberts Clingan
Oh, sweet Nancy, I am so sorry that you, too, are missing a parent. Yes, just hearing them say our name again would be a blessing. I find videos and can’t yet watch them as it has only been 7 months since Mom died. But someday. Thank you for the strength. You are an amazing pillar of strength. I so admire you.
I kind of lost track of you when you stepped away from your blog for awhile, so I was really happy to see your post in the link-up. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom since we last connected. It’s a gut wrenching loss. I loved reading this tribute to her scents. Beautiful! Hugs, my friend.
Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom
Sending you lots of hugs, Leslie. I think it is so sweet your dad used to shower your mom with gifts. Maybe his love language was gifts and hers was something else since she’d return them most of the time? I used to work in Walgreens in high school in the cosmetics department and I remember that Jean Naté!! I don’t have a signature scent, but I did get a box of larger perfume samples from Sephora a year ago and it also included a voucher to buy one of them in full size and my favorite was the Chloe person! It is just a clean, everyday smell that I love. I don’t even own an expensive Chloe bag (or any expensive bag really! ha, ha!), but I love it!