Absent-mindedly spooning porridge into my mouth this morning I flicked through an old Better Homes and Gardens magazine and found an irresistible offer. Subscribe to the magazine and you receive a free 4711 gift pack. The offer continues: “The fragrance contains tantalising traces of citrus, rosemary and lavender essential oils that will make the wearer feel exquisitely refreshed and invigorated anywhere, any time.” Smells evoke all kinds of memories and reading about the ‘irresistibility’ of 4711 and suddenly Granny was right beside me again. My brother doesn’t remember Granny and smelling “Exquisitely refreshing and invigorating”. No, he remembers her ‘smelling funny in a not nice way’.
Her toilette was incomplete without the generous splashes of her favourite fragrance. Granny and I share the love of beautiful fragrances. A while ago my brother bought me a bottle of Jean Pierre Gaultier (JPG) perfume and like Granny with 4711, I was smitten with JPG. JPG is described as a sharp, oriental, floral fragrance. It is divine and my absolute favourite ousting even Estee Lauder’s Knowing.
My mother’s favourite perfume was Youth Dew by Estee Lauder; she ‘wore’ Youth Dew with a headiness that encompassed everyone. In the weeks after my mother died I often climbed into her wardrobe and sat amongst the clothes she had worn and feel her close by. As long as her fragrance lingered I could believe she might come back. When the ladies from the Red Cross came to empty her wardrobe she left forever. We wear fragrance according to our body chemicals and only my mother could wear Youth Dew and smell so embracing.
Were I to be offered a gift pack of JPG for simply subscribing to a magazine, it would be on my side table already. But now I’m wondering how my grandson will remember me: smelling of “fresh spicy amber, vanilla and wood” or “smelling funny in a not nice way”?