This is Mama. She is the sweetest thing you’ll ever meet. That is unless you tick her off. Then you’ll think you’ve unleashed a tiger, but that’s another post. Today I want to talk about what people think about when they think of Mama.
They usually talk about how she smells. Really. I’m not kidding you. No, not a bad stinky smell, but an aroma of love and goodness. My cousins and friends used to tell me when I was growing up that they loved to hug my mama because it made them feel so good. That she had such a comforting scent and no one on earth smelled like Mama. Of course, at the time I didn’t get it or appreciate it. I thought my cousins were just a little loopy. You know how every family has a run of loopiness?
My mother wore Avon Cotillion cream sachet. It came in a pretty little glass jar. She used to dab it on her wrists and behind her ears. In the jar it just smelled sickly sweet, kind of cheap. It smelled like that on my sister and I, also. But put it on Mama and a whole new world opened up. It must have had something to do with her body chemistry.
Then there was the Avon Cotillion body talc. It came in an oval shaker or in a box with a big fluffy powder puff. Well, Mama used the powder puff, and boy, did she shake that thing every single day. When you walked into the bathroom, it looked like it had been hit by a blizzard. Every time I went in, I came out with white patches all over my clothes. I’d either have to rub it in or try to beat it out. I used to try to wipe down the bathroom every day, but it was useless. However, if I waited two days…well, I know you’ve heard of having so much dust on your furniture that you could write your name in it. This was more like having to take a snow shovel to dig out the letters! In fact my sister and I didn’t have to go outside like other kids to make mud pies. All we had to do was just go into the bathroom and turn on the water in the sink, and we could make talc powder pies. Seriously, if the toilet lid was left open, the seat had a layer of powder on it. Even the water in the bowl had a skim of talc dancing over it.
But the blizzard was worth the comfort I eventually found in the scent of Mama. I finally got what others were saying after I moved away. When I’d come home for a visit, I’d pretty much surrender into the softness of Mama’s hug. I’d inhale deeply, and everything else in life disappeared. It was the scent of love, the scent of home. I began to appreciate how her hugs, even her mere presence made everything else seem right.
Then, Avon had the audacity to do the unthinkable. They took Mama’s essence away. Yes, they discontinued the Cotillion line. We had Mama, but a big part of her was missing. She still offered comfort, food, and good hugs. But she didn’t smell the same. It was the end of an era.
About ten years ago, Avon brought back discontinued fragrances for a short period. I bought Mama a dozen jars. (I wish I’d gotten a whole lot more!) So, for a while we got “Mama comfort” back. I savored those days knowing they wouldn’t last.
Mama has tried many perfumes through the years since, and has never again found her niche. She says that the reason she actually wore Cotillion was that it was the only fragrance she’d ever tried that didn’t give her a headache. I understand as I’ve had that problem with fragrances myself. I know the important thing is that we still have Mama. And we have memories of her once special scent. But Mama’s legacy throughout our extended family is how wonderful she always smelled.
I find it interesting that a sound or an aroma can invoke memories or intense feelings. And to think that all it takes for me is a whiff of a certain cheap cologne and I am enveloped in a warm loving embrace. I know the scent is only the trigger…Mama is the love.