14 March 2008

Scent memory

I got off the train this morning in Penn Station, not my usual entrance point to Manhattan, and immediately recognized the smell. It's not a bad smell, but a curious one - no matter the time of day, Penn Station always smells like fried food with an overlay of mustiness. And it's a powerful memory provoker. I think if you deposited me blindfolded on the platform for track 18, I could tell you where I was, even though I haven't commuted through there on a regular basis in about 25 years. It's that distinct a smell.

Last night, after a day of schlepping the gimpy Moky to doctor's appointments and tests, I thought a wee dram was in order. I opened the pantry liquor cabinet at my mother's 1909 house and was transported to every liquor store I've ever been in, again, by the smell. The liquor cabinet smells of wood and old dust and the essence of whiskey with a veneer of cork. And that wee dram, of Irish (not Scotch) whiskey, tasted oh so very good.

And this morning, as I helped my mother in the bathroom, I thought about the difference between baby pee and adult urine. Somehow, the baby pee never seemed to smell. Are the diapers that good? Is it just that there's so little of it?

The circle of life - from the mewling, puking infant to the second childishness born of aging. My mother diapered me, I diapered my child. The child is toilet-trained, my mother is regressing.

All things considered, her doctor's appointments were okay. Her general weakness is probably all steroid related, but she's tapering them off now. There's no evidence of blood clots in her legs, just edema. There's no evidence of a spinal tumor. Her blood work was perfect. We're keeping our fingers crossed that going off the steroids will result in a general improvement.

18 comments:

flutter said...

Oh babe. ((you))

Julia said...

Crossing fingers for you as well.

How is Miss M?

susan said...

I'll cross my fingers, too.

The Penn Station smell is evocative for me, too. As is the smell of new leather (reminds me of the start of school and the leather bookbags I had in grades 1-3). And the sea air mixed with train station smells in my hometown, the smell of coming home.

Ozma said...

Sending you good thoughts.

The mystery of baby effluvia and it's sort of non-ickiness to parents is probably going to require a 2 million dollar grant and a host of postdocs to solve. But solved it shall be.

Aliki2006 said...

Oh ((((hugs))) this was beautiful--so beautiful.

I'll be thinking of you...

Library Lady said...

As I read the words, I could smell that same smell. That and feel how the air there always seems warm and damp, even in the winter....

Hope your mother is doing better. My own dad (87 next month) just got out of the hospital after his umpty-umpth bout with pneumonia, and all I can do is support my mom long distance. Frustrating....

Janet said...

Beautiful post. Thinking of you and yours.

Mayberry said...

I absolutely know that Penn Station smell.

I'm sorry Moky's having a tough time. Crossing my fingers with you that the end of the steroids will help.

peppermint t said...

Sending you and Moky lots of good thoughts!

niobe said...

This is all so sad. Hoping that things will get at least a little better and easier.

Her Grace said...

Hoping for good news for Moky. I know exactly what you mean about scent memory. Whenever I smell a ham roasting a particular way, I am immediately transported to my grandma's kitchen.

Thinking of you.

becky_handsfull said...

Hoping things get better. You're so right about the babies and parents ... sigh.

Lori said...

I remember diapering my children and wondering if they would ever have to do the same for me when the circle arcs around. So sad...

Good wishes to both your mother and to you.

Aurelia said...

I'm glad your mom is doing better, and yes, that whole circle of life thing is odd isn't it? I never expected it to turn out the way it has.

Beth said...

Praying for your mom.

And you are so right...smell can bring back such powerful memories.

Great post.

Becky said...

I just love you.

That's all.

slouching mom said...

children, parents, with us in the middle, at the center of gravity.

so tough.

i'm thinking about you. and your mom.

katiez said...

I hope things improve.
I can emphasize with you as my own mother is getting more frail and 'elderly' each time I see her... It's sad and scary...