Monday, June 25, 2007

Sweat and Roses

It's amazing to me just how powerful smell is as a memory trigger. The smell of fresh bread takes me back to my mother's kitchen, and the memories associated with it. On a more grisly note, the smell of concentrated Lysol reminds me of my nights studying the cadaver in anatomy lab. Blood has a remarkably metallic smell. That smell reminds me of my days training as an EMT, when our teacher alternately poured old blood from the blood bank on the floor of the classroom to simulate venous bleeding, and pumping it across the room to simulate arterial bleeding.

As grisly as that sounds, it was amazing training. We learned very quickly what blood smelled like, and how to estimate blood loss simply by looking at the amount around the patient.

Today I'm having weird smell triggered memories as well. I lit a rose scented candle in my office. It's pretty strong, and now my whole office, and the space just outside, smells like waxy roses. It's a hot day, and the air conditioner is set badly, so the roses are mingling with the smell of B.O.

I'm not sure the rose candle was a great choice, because now my mind has turned to memories of being a kid and visiting my grandmother (my father's mother) in a nursing home. She smelled just like that after her stroke. Sweat and roses.

It was more than thirty years ago, I was probably about eight or nine at the time, but this candle has taken me right back to her side. I'm holding her hand, and hoping she'll get better soon.

It took her a while, but she did recover enough to start walking, and talking, again. Unfortunately, it wasn't too long afterwards that she died.

I never did get to know her very well, being so young and living in a different city. Even so, smells are a powerful thing. I wonder what she'd think of the person I've become.

I miss you grandma.

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