It’s no secret that smell is closely linked with memory. Sometimes we don’t even realize how significant that is until we take in an aroma that suddenly transports us to another time and place. Thinking of my grandparents, I associate them with a variety of scent snapshots. On the one side of the family tree, I think of the smell of chlorine and freshly trimmed roses (grandpa had a pool and a garden), or of dusty dolls (they enjoyed collectibles). I catch a waft of old carpet and I’m there, giggling with cousins and arguing with brothers. On the other side of grandparents, I notice smells like lemon trees, fried chicken, bathroom cleaner, and freshly starched shirts. I vividly recall my grandpa’s leathery hand in mine and his cheerful grin.
Whether we lived near or far from my grandparents (as we did both at varying points in life), visiting with them was always something special, and we always knew we were loved. As I grew older, I realized that my grandparents had a lot more to share than Christmas presents and fresh baked cookies. These folks had lived through a lot, and had amazing stories to impart. Grandpa Schmidt went to Europe during World War II, but he didn’t talk about it much when Grandma was around, because her first husband was lost in the effort and she didn’t like thinking about it. Grandma remembered living through the depression and working hard all her life. Grandpa’s parents came to America from a German settlement in Russia. Grandpa Adams grew up on the East Coast, and he served as a Baptist minister for many years, leading large congregations in a few states. He didn’t always think his stories would interest me and tried to tell worn-out corny jokes instead; but when I got a good past recollection out of him it was always a treasured treat. Listening to these tales of the past, I respected and valued my grandparents all the more.
I am grateful for every moment I’ve been able to share with my grandparents. My mother’s parents live in California, so I see them only on rare visits. On my father’s side, both grandma and grandpa have now passed away. I miss them, but I’m actually relieved that they are no longer in worn-out pain, and can be with Jesus in Heaven, where one day I will see them again with renewed strength and heavenly bodies. What special blessings our family backgrounds can be!