Have you ever had the smallest object, sound or smell take you back? Back to a happier time, a better memory, a place you wish you could somehow get to again? I have experienced moments like that all week long.
The recent heat wave brought with it two incredibly painful fever blisters. I have suffered with fever blisters since I was a child and I know exactly what to do – CARMEX, CARMEX & more CARMEX. As soon as I felt the first fever blister reaching the surface, I ran over to CVS and purchased a tube of Carmex immediately. As I removed the lid and circled my index finger around the container, I was instantly taken to another place.
I’m young again – maybe 8 or 9. I’m sitting on the couch with my Nana – watching The Price is Right. We’re drinking Coke Classic straight from the can as we guess the price of a Jamaican vacation in the bonus round. Laughing at my outrageous guess ($500 for a Jamaican vacation!?), Nana reaches for her tube of Carmex and begins to apply. I’ve never seen her use any lip balm or chap stick other than Carmex. She’s a woman of habit - brand loyal: only Coke Classic, only Pantene Pro-V, only Carmex, only Kraft mayonnaise, only Winston 500’s.
My cell phone rings – and just like that – I’m 25 again, sitting at my office desk. Wishing for one more episode of The Price is Right. Wishing for a chance to tell her that Carmex is my favorite too – mainly because the smell always reminds me of her. Wishing I could complain to her about my thighs, after all – she gave them to me. Wishing she could see the look in my eyes when I look at Steven – he is everything she ever wanted for me.
Later that evening as I drove home, I noticed how beautiful the flowers are this time of year. The tulips, pansies, petunias and daisies are bright and welcoming. A fragrant reminder of God’s love for His children of His creative hand at work in our lives.
Without warning, I was in another place. I’m a teenager sitting under the carport with my Mema. We’re drinking iced tea and eating cantaloupe on a spring afternoon. It’s one of those rare “life lesson” moments a granddaughter shares with her grandmother. “More important than anything else, Amber, be a woman of faith. The husband is the head of the household, but you are the backbone – and without your faith, your family will be lost.”
The light turns green and once again I’m pulled back to reality. At first, I wish for trivial happiness – wishing for one more afternoon under the carport. Wishing for one more lesson on how to make biscuits. Wishing for one more Sunday seated in the church pew beside her.
But the occurrence of two power memories in the same day is too much – and the pain quickly goes deeper. I’m heartbroken that my little brother Ethan, who is only six, won’t have memories of his grandmothers. I’m saddened that neither Nana nor Mema will get to see any of my children be born. I want so badly to tell them how much they mean to me – how I am a better woman because of their love. I want them to know that not a day goes by that I’m not in some way reminded of their existence – of their presence in my life.
Sometimes, when I’m sad like this, I like to pretend that on my wedding day, God called them to His side and pulled back the clouds. They stood there hand-in-hand as I walked down the aisle to the love of my life, the man they both hoped I would find. At first, Mema noted that my hair wasn’t quite big enough, but then she saw the silk handkerchief in my bouquet – it had belonged to her, my something borrowed, and with that tears came to her eyes. Nana barely recognized the woman I became in the seven years since she had passed – but she instantly remembered the ring on my left hand – for it was her wedding ring, an heirloom left to her firstborn grandchild. They stood there together – as all grandmothers should – and watched me walk down the aisle on the happiest day of my life.
And with that, I’m at peace again. I know in my heart I will see them again. Until then, I have powerful, happy memories to hold onto. I also have the hope of having a blonde haired, blue eyed granddaughter of my own. For I will have one more episode of The Price is Right and one more afternoon under the carport, it’s just this time, I will be the one sharing the wisdom.