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Monday, March 28, 2011

The Perfume That Always Makes Me Cry

By Marla

Do you have one perfume that carries such special memories, you can’t help but cry when you smell it (or for the stoic among us, want to cry without actually doing it)? During my recent, very complex move from Europe back to the United States, I have become much more intimate with my extensive perfume collection. I’ve been giving away bottles to friends, decanting others, donating some to senior centers, and wearing some long-forgotten beauties, too. It’s a lot of fun, but yesterday, I came to a small black hatbox at the back of my closet. Inside was a light blue suede pouch with a star-shaped flacon inside, filled with…Angel! And this is my favorite, most treasured bottle, and here’s why.

When my family first moved to Europe, my youngest son suffered from severe respiratory problems. He’d always been the fragile one, yet the most spirited of my children as well. One night, he woke up cyanotic, blue-grey in the face, unable to breathe. In the middle of an Alpine blizzard, the Mountain EMTs carried him away to hospital. He survived, just, and spent quite a long time in hospital recovering. Since I am a nurse, I was allowed to tend to him, and I was by his side most of that time. A side effect of the strong medications he had to take was anosmia. He could barely smell an onion!

Now how does Angel fit into this? When I first smelled it, I hated it. YUCK! But then a good friend of mine, a beautiful Scandinavian Amazon, began wearing it, and it was so right on her, I changed my mind. As a petite, freckled redhead, I can ‘t carry off Angel the way my Wagnerian friend can, and I didn’t try. But when she gave me a small bottle, exclaiming, “I’ll bet he can smell THIS!” I couldn’t help but wear it to the hospital. It was comforting to me and reminded me of my friend’s strength and warm presence. And yup, it cut through the anosmia, and my son said it was beautiful. (And for all you nurses out there, Angel may be the only perfume that, sprayed on the wrist, can last through a double shift and 200 hand-washings!!)

Finally, my son recovered his health, and we all took a trip to London to celebrate. It was our best holiday ever, and I gave each child several tenners to buy themselves each a present at Harrod’s. My youngest whispered something to my husband, grabbed his hand, and they headed off together, in the opposite direction from the toy department. An hour later, we all got together for lunch, and my youngest presented me with a small black hatbox. Inside was a light blue, suede pouch with a small, star-shaped flacon of perfume. He said, “I wanted to give you this, instead of getting a toy, because you’re my Angel.”

I've donated $100 to the Red Cross Japan Fund thanks to your comments! Woot Woot!



Blogger womo531 said...

Oh Marla, that is such a beautiful story and it just made me want to cry as well~ thank you!

12:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Marla, what a sweet story, and I am a bit teary over here too. I am so glad that your son got better after that episode! Perfume memories can be emotional in so many ways.

I always feel like crying when I smell En Passant, partly because the lilac brings back childhood memories for me, and also because it's just so very beautiful.

2:01 AM EDT  
Blogger Trina said...

This is beautiful on so many levels! And thank you for donating to the Japan relief efforts. Is there a particular charity/organization you support that you'd like to share? I've contributed to the ones that are near and dear to me, but am always open to other worthy efforts!

2:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Katie Puckrik said...

Thank you for this wonderful story, Marla. Your family's experience with Angel has given it a whole different kind of longevity - an emotional one.

2:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, womo531!

2:49 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flora, isn't it amazing how smells unlock emotions and memories?

2:50 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Trina! I donated to the Red Cross Japan Fund, it's easy to do via their website, or through there are other worthy charities out there, too. Medicins sans Frontieres comes to mind, especially.

2:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Katie,
Angel is certainly a polarizing perfume, I'm glad I could add to its positive side!

2:52 AM EDT  
Anonymous elve said...

wet eyes... thanks for a beautiful story!

3:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to cry as well, what a beautiful memory...
Since I have children I am crying all the time. ;)
I am glad to hear your move went well.
And as for Angel, your post makes me want to smell it again, experiencing it through the loving lens inspired by your story.

4:01 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a mom certainly keeps one's tear ducts (and smile muscles, too, fortunately) in good condition, doesn't it??

4:40 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- this story puts Angel under a completely new light... thank you! It's wonderful to hear that your son is healthy now.

5:28 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, RH, he finally had surgery which cleared up most of the problem, and he can smell a little better these days!

5:45 AM EDT  
Blogger lovethescents said...

Okay, I'm crying now. Beautiful and touching story. Thank you for sharing this with us. It must have been very emotional for you to write it.

I am a nurse too, and have never dared wear Angel because it can be a little overwhelming. I work in the ICU, and our non-intubated patients are often nauseous. I don't think we have enough Gravol or Stemitil to deal with what Angel might do to them! :-))

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger marsha said...

Marla: What a lovely story! So happy your son is doing so much better. Unfortunately, there isn't a perfume that carries any emotional memory like that for me.


8:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Marsha, you'll find that special perfume, it will sneak up on you!

11:13 AM EDT  
Blogger JoAnne Bassett said...

Marla what a beautiful story..choking on the tears on this end...

Being an aromatherapist and perfumer for almost 20 years I have heard many stories from people in their later years recalling the eucalyptus or citrus trees of their childhood. The sense of smell is a very powerful one...Many memories can be unlocked using scents..Thank you for sharing.

12:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you, I don't wear perfume to work at all (hospice and dementia ward). Some of my AIDS patients were so nauseated, even their thinking of a smell could set it off. But for me, that makes wearing perfume at home or out and about with friends or family extra special.

12:33 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started with aromatherapy, too, and use it with particularly with psychiatric patients and patients with dementia, it can bring them out of their isolation and start them talking (or singing!) about the memories the scents evoke. And some things, like jasmine, frankincense, lemon, are very useful to help calm and center people, too.

12:35 PM EDT  
Anonymous Victoria said...

What a lovely story, Marla! Thank you so much for sharing.

12:54 PM EDT  
Blogger tarleisio said...

Marla, this is such an incredible and a beautiful story! So inspiring! And I say this as a certified Angel hater! ;-) Somehow, after reading this, it will never be quite the monster it was!

1:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tarleisio, my husband no longer calls it "The Death Angel"! He kinda likes it....

1:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Alyssa said...

Wonderful post, Marla. And such a great counter-story to all those little articles about Angel lawsuits...

Welcome back to the U.S! I bet that would be a very difficult move--logistically and psychologically. I'm selfishly glad that it increases the chances of my running into you one day.

2:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Janet said...

I always loved Angel and even more now :-)

3:05 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope to meet in the real world, too, Alyssa!

3:41 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Janet! Somedays, I just have to wear Angel, when I'm in the mood, I like it even without the family history.

3:43 PM EDT  
Blogger a.k.a. Warum said...

That is such a beautiful story, thanks for sharing it. Your story teaches me a lesson: no matter how precious our perfumes are, it is our life and our experiences that make them truly sacred. Thank you.

5:20 PM EDT  
Anonymous *jen said...

Marla, I am wiping away happy tears. Great tale. Glad your son is well.

to consider: L'Air du Desert Marocain could be in the running to last a whole shift, too. :)

9:16 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a sweet little (and BIG) spirit you are blessed with! love his energy.


9:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous Geordan said...

Oh my word. I hardly ever cry about anything, but your story has me boo-hooing. So touching. There is nothing like a child who gives straight from the heart, with no alterior motives. Truly beautiful.

11:42 PM EDT  
Anonymous Joan said...

Britney Spears' Curious made me cry when I tried to wash it off and it wouldn't go away for days.

12:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Copy that!

1:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, L'air du DM is certainly a strong presence!

1:27 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Minette, I agree!

1:28 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true, I love those moments when I see people doing things like that. Gives me enough energy for the whole day!

1:29 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some aromachemicals that have a persistence of months! I tend to be hyperosmic to most of them....

1:29 AM EDT  
Anonymous maggiecat said...

I have tears in my eyes and I don't even care for Angel - at least not on me (maybe it's the readhead thing). What a beautiful story!

11:27 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Angel was never my thing either but thanks to your story, I now smile each time I see its bottle or catch a whiff...

12:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Undina said...

Marla, thank you for sharing, it's a beautiful story.
I love Angel. Do not wear it too often but love it.

3:01 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, red hair, freckles, Angel, which one doesn't belong with the others?? I noticed that they've never had a redhead model or celeb to advertise Angel! Is it because we're so strongly associated with the Harry Potter side of the street?? ;-)

5:36 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. I love Angel too, but have to be in the right mood to wear it. Sometimes I'll scent a scarf or my gloves with it, though.

5:38 AM EDT  
Blogger janelc said...

What a beatiful article, it was so heartfelt. Thank you for sharing.

9:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous Maria said...

I cried, too. Beautriful story!These little beings can be so overwhelming. My son also has respiratory problems and he loves to smell me. I know the emergency room and spent nights and days in hospitals.
What about donating some perfumes to Medicine sans Frontiere? The brave nurses and doctors there might enjoy some.

3:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That post was heartrending and wonderful, thanks for sharing :)

8:29 PM EDT  
Anonymous Mimi G said...

Absolutely beautiful - just about made me cry and I was a nurse too.
Your son sounds like a little angel himself. Thank you for sharing this lovely lovely account. I never could do Angel but now I am willing to try again. :)

7:42 PM EDT  

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