Olive oil

The other night I was making dinner, as I do most nights after school.  I had onions and peppers sliced, and the olive oil was heating in the pan.  I leaned over to get some salt, and the smell of the heating oil was lifted straight up to mix with my indrawn breath.

Instantly, I was transported to my Nana’s kitchen, watching her heat oil to saute vegetables.  With that one scent of warm, rich, golden oil, I could clearly picture my Nana.  I could hear her laugh, see her petite form standing with spatula in hand. I remembered the taste of french toast with sugar when my sister and I would sleep at her house.  I remembered the velvety burgundy roses in her yard, flowers that I thought for the longest time were named for her, my Nana Rose.

One breath, one scent and everything connected to Nana came flooding back to me.

Other memories are equally powerful for me, and equally evocative of every sense and emotion.  The other day I saw a young Mother holding a little bitty boy in her arms.  He was wearing soft blue pajamas and the sight of his little ankle showing below the sky blue cloth brought back a memory of my middle son.  As clearly and sharply as if he was standing before me, I could see my little baby, barefoot in his blue pajamas.  I could see his wheat gold hair just brushing his brows, his soft pink cheeks and the sweet little pout of his lips.  I could feel his warm, damp, just-out-of-the-bath skin as I picked him up and held him close.

I don’t know exactly when either of these events happened, or what makes them so sharp and clear in my mind today.  I don’t remember what it was about either that gave them such importance and such permanence in my life.  But for some reason one small trigger, a smell, a color, the drape of cloth, triggered a flood and there I was.  Reliving my past.  Like a lucky version of PTSD, I guess.   “Post Terrific Sensory Disorder” for those who are sentimental about a happy past.

Both memories made me feel equally happy and sad.  Both left me breathless and tearful.  Both left me hoping for more.

And now I wonder.

What triggers will bring my grown children back to my house, my kitchen, my arms?

3 thoughts on “Olive oil

  1. Hi,
    It is amazing what will trigger a memory that we thought was lost, I know when this happens to me it always brings on a smile and more memory’s follow. 😀
    A lovely post.


  2. Smells are one of the most powerful memory influences. But sometimes it’s just a very small detail that brings on the memory and the longing and a homesickness for something gone. It’s fascinating that we carry these memories around with us throughout our life and then they can be triggered by something so random and tangential. Great post, momshieb!


    • Thank you! I’m glad that I am not the only one who is brought back in time by those quick, intense sensory memories. I do wonder what my children will think of as the “smells of home.”


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