Saturday, 26 January 2013

Mother Much Missed - An Anniversary Tribute

Today is the 14th anniversary of my mother's death. I find it hard to credit that it could be so long ago now. I was still in my 30s when she died - what are these years called "30s"? I can barely recall. So to mark the occasion, I shall go in search of some yellow tulips (her favourite colour), which will serve as a very springlike counterpoint to the latest blanket of snow all around.

With each passing year I feel a keen sense of sadness that my mother never knew me as a person with a "proper interest in perfume", as opposed to the giver of thoughtless fragrance gifts depicted in my earlier post about her. How my careless behaviour still makes me squirm! And I wish I had paid more attention to the scented products she used, though Lentheric Tweed fragrance, Bronnley lemon soap and Yardley honeysuckle talc have lodged in my mind. And she had lily of the valley for her wedding bouquet, I do know that.

I am pretty sure Mother would have liked the new Bonkers Towers - I now also regret selling her walnut bureau and one or two other fine pieces of antique furniture! But we lived in a modern house at the time and I never thought that one day I might have a use for period furnishings myself.

But never mind the material trappings of our family life - mostly I just miss her terribly for the lovely, caring person that she was. The dwindling numbers of her (now very ancient!) contemporaries never fail to mention Mother in Christmas cards and emails - here is one touching reference from this year.

"I cannot help recalling how, when I first moved here, I had the joy of the company of several old friends of my childhood, Peggy being the most important one. I still miss her very much. Such a humorous, wise, tolerant and lovable person. We would often meet for a meal together at each other's home. Such happy times."

So this post is dedicated to anyone who has lost a parent and misses them. And especially to anyone who feels they would have done some things differently if they had their time over. In the case of my own mother, I should have bought her a Boots token at the very least.


  1. Hope you're ok Vanessa. Having gone through the same thing, words can never describe how hard it is. I hope your scented memories bring you happiness and fond memories all the same :)

  2. I believe we all feel at some point we should have done something different.
    Your post is such a lovely bitter-sweet way to remember and honor your mother.

  3. Hi Liam,

    I am fine, thanks - I hope you are too. I guess it depends how long ago one loses a loved one. After so many years, the memories of may mother are more poignant than painful.

  4. Hi Ines,

    Thanks for saying so - I am glad you could relate. If this post serves to encourage anyone out there reading to make the most of the parents they have, that would be a good job done!

  5. Hi Bonks,

    It's a great tribute to your mum that you have such fond memories of her.

    I can send you some Yardley Honeysuckle edt if you'd like to have some "in the air" every now and then.

    Look after yourself, and enjoy the yellow tulips when you get them.

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  6. Dear Vanessa,

    Your essay gave me a pang in my heart, thinking of my own beloved Mother gone for 13 years.

    Hugs to you.

  7. Dear Vanessa, hugs to you. Please find a beautiful memory of you and your mother and hold on to it.

  8. Hi Anna,

    It seems that so many people have fond memories of her, which is a comforting thought in itself.

    And thanks so much for your kind offer to send me some Yardley Honeysuckle EDT, but at the moment I am making a concerted effort to lose perfumes rather than gain them, hehe. If I find myself feeling nostalgic I could always seek out a branch of Boots with a tester. I have certainly had a crafty sniff of those Bronnley lemon soaps before now... : - )

  9. Oh Taffy, I hope the pangs you felt were not too painful, and that reading my post helped to bring back good memories of your mother. It seems you lost her at more or less around the same time as me, but the feeling of loss never goes away.

  10. Hi Undina,

    Thanks for that - I am sure you are right and I should stop focusing on my past omissions and hold on to some nice memories of my mother instead!

  11. Very poignant and wistful. Lovely, too: yellow is the colour of the sun, the source of life.
    But - at the risk of sounding like an officious busybody delurking to trot out a patronising platitude (moi? Shome mishtake shurely!) - do remember how fortunate you were to have such a wonderful mother. That's really what counts. Although I know from my own experience that one never, ever, stops missing a loved one ...
    Hope you're enjoying your new home, Vanessa.

  12. Dear V,

    Such a touching post.

    At some point I do hope you can stop feeling so bad about the fragrant gifts you gave your mother. I'm sure it was the last thing on her mind and she wouldn't want you worrying about it. It's not easy though and I am one for focusing on regrets rather than the positives but do try and take Undina's advice.The yellow tulips was a lovely idea. x

  13. Hi Minnie,

    I for one am delighted you de-lurked, especially as your advice is very sound! As Undina and Tara are also encouraging me to do, I should remember the good things about my mother and stop fretting about my filial shortcomings.

    I am enjoying my new home very much, thanks, and as part of my upcoming 2012 retrospective (scented and otherwise), I may include a couple of "before" and "after" shots of a couple of the rooms - the difference is almost comical!

  14. Hi Tara,

    I promise that this is the last year I am going to sweat the small stuff. And thinking about it, the thoughtless perfume gift is probably more a kind of shorthand in fact for a feeling that I could have done more for her generally.

    Mother was very independent and self-contained, but I still regret that I didn't make the effort to see more of her in her last years, albeit she lived a long way away. I guess I was concerned not to do anything too out of the ordinary, as that might have come across as fussing or drawn attention to her illness. She really did seem to rise above it till the final month or two.

    Oh, and I got yellow roses in the end - there must have been a run on tulips!

  15. What a beautiful loving post, Vanessa. I know how painful it is to miss a parent - my father's anniversary of his passing is coming up, and I think of him every single day. Many hugs and much love to you, my friend.

  16. Hi Carol,

    Thanks for your lovely comment, and I am sorry about your dad. I guess at our age it's the name of the game to lose your parents, but it isn't easy. There must be a big kid still inside us all...

  17. Thank you for the warm welcome, Vanessa - and all the best with new roost.
    PS your dear Mother's scent choices sound wonderful ... I'm getting leather, bergamot, the old standby 'Stephanotis' by Floris, and the Muguet note of so many lovely florals ... Mmm. She must have inspired you to explore perfumes, as well as giving you love and confidence: chapeau, Vanessa's Mama!

  18. Hi Minnie,

    Thanks very much - roost is slowly coming together! Definitely feels like home.

    Ooh, "Stephanotis" by Floris - you don't hear much about that one. There was also a stephanotis note as I recall in their creation for Kate Middleton and William's wedding, "Wedding Bouquet".

    Although not overtly into perfumes, Mother was a keen gardener and taught me the names of many wild flowers, not all of which I have retained. I wish she could advise me on the mature and well stocked garden I have inherited here, as I feel rather helpless when faced with all these unknown species, and she would know exactly how to maintain what's here!

  19. Comforting thoughts and blessings to you, and praise for these wonderful words of tribute to your mother.

  20. What a wonderful tribute to your mother. My thoughts are with you, Vanessa.

  21. Hi olenska,

    Thanks for your sweet comment!

  22. Hi JoanElaine,

    Very kind of you to say so, and thanks for your good wishes.

  23. I'm too touched by the lovely memories of your mom, and grateful for your generous thoughts for others of us who have lost parents, to say much more than thanks. But thank you for post.

  24. Hi anotherperfumeblog,

    Thanks for your kind words. I do feel that many of us are at the stage in our lives where it is not unusual to have lost one or both parents - so there's a lot of missing going on in our community. Even the younger fumehead crowd have probably lost a grandparent or two by now, to whom they may also have been close. : - (

  25. A very touching post, Vanessa. In the photo of your mother where she is sitting at the table, I see how you resemble her -- it's in your smile. There is something a bit impish in both your smiles ... it's quiet, but it's there, and I'm betting that your mother loved humor every bit as much as you do.

    She would have loved reading your blog, I'm certain, and been immensely proud of you.

  26. Hi Suzanne,

    Ooh, you brought a tear to my eye, saying Mother would have been proud of the blog. She did indeed have a fantastic (and impish!) sense of humour and I think you totally read her character in that photo. I had never noticed we had similar smiles - sometimes it takes a person outside the family to spot such resemblances!