Allow me a minute to use this space for a blog entry that’s a little more serious and sentimental than my usual ramblings.
I had one of those moments while on bedtime duty with my 4-year-old daughter tonight. One of those moments in which a simple question led to an answer that surprised even me.
My daughter has been transfixed with heaven lately. It’s a confusing topic to understand for anyone, but especially for a little kid who is starting Sunday school and is suddenly hearing a lot about God and prayer.
I’m not sure what the official parental approach is on this one, especially because my own beliefs on the topic are still sort of murky. So, I’ve been trying to reinforce that everyone has their own belief in God (or not one at all) and that we all interpret the afterlife differently.
That seemed sufficient until tonight, when, with the lights turned low, my daughter asked me if dinosaurs go to heaven, and if they do, do they have their own separate place? I said I didn’t know, but I imagined that all people and animals go to heaven and happily coexist.
Crisis averted? Not quite.
Next, she asked me if our family members who have died before she was born know her. And if so, how?
This was getting harder. I was afraid of accidentally overloading her with information that sounded as magical as the previous topic of the night, when she asked me if Count Dracula and skeletons are real. (I said no, Dracula isn’t real, and yes, skeletons are, but they can’t get up and walk around.)
I stammered something about how I believe that our relatives are looking down over us, and even people like my grandfather, who never met her, would be proud of her. I told her that when people have a dream about their deceased loved ones, some of them think that’s their way of communicating from the other side. I told her I once smelled my grandpa’s cologne in the room with me, and I thought that might be him sending me a message. My daughter looked confused, and rightfully so.
Finally, I had an idea. I asked my daughter if she wanted to know how my grandfather smelled. I told her that he always wore the same cologne; he practically bathed in the stuff. After he died in 1991, my grandma gave me a bottle of Aramis, so I could be reminded of his scent.
My daughter said yes, so I found this 22-year-old unused bottle of Aramis. Over the years, I’ve opened it up and taken a whiff. Tonight, I unscrewed the cap for her to smell. She said she liked it.
But then I did something that I don’t remember ever doing. I splashed some of the Aramis on my wrists. People who know a thing or two about cologne will say that how a fragrance smells on paper or in the bottle is different than how it smells on your skin.
Suddenly, the scent on my arms didn’t just remind me of Harold Nemson. It was Harold Nemson. It might as well have been 1985 or 1976. I was temporarily overcome with emotion, only saved by my kid's next question, this time about Rapunzel – she had by now moved on. But I knew right away that I had to write this epiphany down.
The power of scent is such an amazing one.
Yes, I can wear the gold Rolex that my grandpa left me and think of him. Yes, I can look at photos of him holding me as a baby. But smelling that strong, distinctive cologne on my own skin made these last 22 years vanish, if only for a minute.
All this from a question about dinosaur heaven.
It didn’t need to turn into an exercise in existentialism. But I’m glad it did.
It amazes me how a familiar scent can take us back in time.
My Dad passed away this past August, and as a little girl my weekly chores were to dust the furniture.
In my parents room my Dad had a bottle of Old Spice cologne. One day when I was dusting I dabbed some on my wrist and smelled it through out the day. My Dad worked a 3rd shift at Armour Dial so we didn't get to see him everyday.
I always remember this scent on him.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Aug. 27, 2014
Back in June, I wrote about the five summer kids trips I couldn't wait to take. Well, summer got busy, and despite my best intentions, I only made it to one of my top five suggestions. But that's not to say I was a deadbeat dad this season. My almost-6-year-old and I had lots of fun this summer, and in fact, we found a few other places to visit as the calendar inched closer to the return of school. All three were just within an hour from home.
Published Aug. 19, 2014
I recently interviewed a former boss, a courageous woman who once hired me as an intern. She's now affiliated with the Milwaukee Masterpiece, a high-end car show. Meet Bev Jurkowski, my mentor, and the woman crazy enough to ask me to be a "celebrity judge" this weekend at the show.
Published Aug. 19, 2014
Chicago native Molly Fay didn't expect to host a talk show. But the former investigative journalist, mother of three and self-described introvert, found herself doing just that eight years ago when WTMJ-4 launched "The Morning Blend," and she hasn't looked back. We caught up with Fay over coffee last week to discuss where she's been and where she's going. And why every person, even if their job seems mundane, has a story to tell.
Published Aug. 13, 2014
I quite enjoyed the "Garlicmeister" last time, but I'm pretty sure I'm now partial to their $9 "Baconmeister" meal. With 1/3 pound of Angus beef, topped with bourbon bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato and cheese (I opted for cheddar), it's the brioche bun that makes the difference to me. It comes with homemade chips or fries and a drink.
Published Aug. 12, 2014
I could pretty much eat falafel every day of my life and never get tired of it. The fried chickpea dish is close to the perfect vegetarian dish, and whether you claim it's Israeli or Arabic, it's one meal that everyone in the Middle East can agree is great.
Published Aug. 6, 2014
Last weekend, I talked my wife into joining me on my adventure - we hadn't visited Door County together since we first started dating in 2002. It turns out that showing off old favorites, discovering new memories and cultivating another Door County fan is a wonderful, relaxing way to experience this magical place. After all, even as a entirely different kind of trip, Door County remains my "happy place." Scoring points with the wife makes it even happier.
Published Aug. 5, 2014
This time around, Spacehog returns to Milwaukee in a larger venue, joining Everclear, Soul Asylum and Eve 6 in the Summerland Tour at State Fair Thursday night night. It's easy to call it a `90s band reunion - and it may be - but listen to Spacehog play, and then ask yourself if this is a band just cashing a paycheck. Pretty sure you'll come to the same conclusion I did. We caught up with Spacehog drummer Jonny Cragg from Denver, as his tour moves to the Midwest. He talked about life on the road and what's next for a band that did so much more in its four albums that just what you heard on the radio and saw on MTV.
Published July 22, 2014
It's easy to complain about highway construction in Milwaukee. After all, it's pretty much a constant. When one project finishes, another begins ... if we're lucky. More often, it seems like every interchange or stretch of freeway is being worked on all at once.
Published July 9, 2014
Milwaukee's homegrown sausage chain, The Dogg Haus, has reached an area development agreement with Minneapolis-based Freestyle Enterprises, LLC, to expand into the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.
Published July 8, 2014
I can't believe it's true, but the iconic Gobbler in Johnson Creek is coming back. On May 22, Daniel A. Manesis, of Manesis & Associates of West Allis purchased the long vacant restaurant, that last was, as I recall, a barbecue place and served one of the worst meals I ever had in a restaurant.