Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Smell You Later: Grandma’s Lilacs

Daily Prompt: Smell You Later

by michelle w. on August 9, 2013

Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.

One of the lesser known aspects of Parkinson’s Disease is the loss of smell. I used to have a strong sense of smell, and I don’t know exactly when I actually began to experience a diminishing of this sense, but I do remember one instance that occurred when I was taking morning walks with a friend.  She mentioned that she put gardenia blossoms in a bowl of water and the fragrance filled the house. I tried this and noticed nothing fragrant at all. When I could no longer smell my roses, I knew something was amiss.

However, the greatest blow this loss has dealt me is that I can no longer smell lilacs.  I grew up in the house next door to my grandmother’s. My sister and I loved spending time with her. She baked the best pies in the world, always had time to listen to us, taught us how to sew and quilt, and let us help her turn the handle of the wringer washing machine, which squeezed the clothes through the rollers to press out the water and push out the clothes paper-thin. But best of all, she had a row of dark and light purple lilac bushes in her backyard. My birthday is in May, and every year she would cut me a giant bouquet of the lilacs. The sweet smell of lilacs is one I will always associate with my childhood – of days spent with my wonderful grandmother, of childhood birthday memories, of the anticipation of spring that the blooming lilac bushes represented..

I would give anything to have one more day with my grandmother, one more day to bury my nose in a giant bouquet of lilacs, and breathe in as deeply as I can. Memories are powerful, and fortunately I have wonderful ones of the lilacs to draw on. And if I try really hard, I can visualize my grandmother, and those special birthday lilacs, bury my face in those imagined bouquets and in my mind smell that sweet fragrance once again.



  1. I lost my sense of smell along the way as well. I even went to an ENT doctor who had no idea or curiosity about why it had happened, I first noticed when a group of us were visiting a friend. One person said, “Wow, that chicken in the oven smells so good!”. Everyone but me agreed and joined in and I sat there thinking, “What chicken?”. I used to laugh and say that having 4 children through diapers had burnt out my olfactory nerve. But I, like you, remember. The smell of the lilac bush where I played Barbies in the summer, the smell of laundry dried in the sun and the smell all newborn babies seem to have. I don’t wear perfume any more because I can’t smell it and I’m afraid I’ll overdo. But I do have the memories of them and I still have working taste buds. And my husband and I have decided there are alot of times, not having the sense of smell can be a blessing. What its done is make me paranoid about my house or myself having odors, so I mop and clean often and probably overdo my personal hygiene. Thanks for a great post. I’m at .

    1. I know what you mean about overdoing the personal hygiene and cleaning the house, I worry about that, too. I do have my sense of taste intact, as well. That is a blessing as are our memories…

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