The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Monday, 29 October 2012

A Smell Of Violets

This is not a spooky post. Or maybe it is. It is certainly inspired by Suze who writes at Subliminal Coffee. Some of her latest forays into the supernatural (or rather into the world which we cannot experience with our five senses) have had me thinking, re-thinking and wondering about the ‘other’ dimension. The one which we cannot touch, feel or see. Or, at least, the one which the majority of us cannot touch, feel or see. I do believe in an after-life. I do believe that there is more to death than we can ever even begin to imagine. But before I continue, here is a little story that I want to share.
I was very close to my maternal grandmother, my Nanna Rose. My parents and I lived with her for the first 2 years of my life, while my parents’ house was being built after they returned from a 3-year stay in Canada and the US. My dad was studying at NDSU at the time and, due to some issues with Visas, he and my mum returned to Malta just two months before I was born. My Nanna was a constant figure in my early life and I spent many days at her home whenever my parents had errands to run or just to spend time with her. She had a tiny garden that I loved to play in, making mud pies and chasing butterfles. At one corner of the garden grew an old, gnarled orange tree that produced some of the sweetest oranges that I have ever tasted. Beneath the orange tree, in a shady spot, was a patch of violets. I would sometimes cut the delicate flowers and put them in a little vase in my room. On her bathroom shelf, my Nanna kept a bottle of very sweet-smelling, violet-scented perfume. She was the only one I knew who used that scent – except for a similar bottle which I kept in my room when I was a little girl. In 2000, my Nanna passed on.

I missed her. We all did. But life has to go on. In February 2006 my son was born. After the initial sleepless nights and hectic days, we settled into a comfortable pattern. There were days when I fervently wished that my nanna could see my little one but I stopped at that - just a wish that I made in my heart. One morning, as I walked through the foyer at the top of our stairs, the subtle but unmistakable smell of violets filled the air around me. And shivers went up my spine. No one had used that scent since Nanna passed. Except for my son, I was alone at home. There was nothing in my house that could have given off that scent. I just did not use it. So what had I smelt?
                               Source: Uploaded by user via Lorna on Pinterest

To this day, I don’t know. My rational brain tells me that the scent probably wafted in from outside. But violets have a very particular smell and, apart from the fact that there are no violets around our house, I would definitely not mistake the smell of any other flower for violets. My heart wants me to believe that my Nanna came to see my little one and that the scent was for me to know that she had. I am sure that my mother (who is not prone to flights of fantasy like I am) will tell me that there is probably a reasonable scientific explanation to this. And maybe there is. Someone else may tell me that I imagined it. And maybe I did. What is the real explanation? What do I want to believe? I think that that is the crux of the matter.

As Suze rightly pointed out in Houdini’s Wife, there are some things that are deliberately veiled from us. A few of us are able to penetrate the veil a little more than others. But none of us can see all the way through. I do not believe that there is a scientific explanation for all the strange events that happen in the world. Somewhere between logic and imagination lies another realm and, sometimes, on very rare occasions, we are allowed, in the words of Jim Morrison, to ‘break on through to the other side’.
For those of you that celebrate it, Happy Halloween.


  1. Hello Loree:
    A belief is just that...a belief. There are so many things in this world that are beyond our understanding and even our imagination that certainties are, quite possibly, in the minority of what can actually take place. We do think that it is comforting to think that your late grandmother has knowledge of your son and has, in some way, made a connection with him. And why not? As you say, feelings here can be just as certain as reality itself.

  2. this is a beautiful and poignant post, loree. while we may be raised to be logical and rational creatures, our heart has a mind of its own. your heart knows the truth regarding the violet fragrance's source, so logic need not matter in the end.

  3. oh my goodness!
    I have just discovered your blog and I think I am in love!
    Your post resonates so much with me, it sent shivers down my spine and a tear to my eye
    I feel that way about my Nanna ALL THE TIME
    and she passed when I was three
    I believe the violets were your Nanna, I really do believe that
    I am so glad I've discovered your little space, where your write and photograph beautiful things
    I'll be back to share more stories and beliefs

  4. I think it is not important where the smell cames from. Important is that you could smell it and it remembered you your grandma ! Smells often wake up memories !

  5. You and Suze have both inspired me so much of late and this beautiful post is an example of why--such an elegant attempt to understand the unknowable. Merci, Loree--merci Suze et merci aux Hattatts!

  6. A truly delightful post...your Nanna's scent was there so why not she herself? There are so many things that our mind cannot conceive. Thanks Loree for sharing your beautiful story : )

  7. I love it when I read about your nana, as I never had this kind of relationship with my grandparents on both sides. What a beautiful post, Loree!

  8. Dear Loree - this post is so sweet - I too always picked sweet violets for my grandmother. As for those who reach us beyond the grave...I believe it is God's way of bringing comfort when we experience those poignant unexplained moments. I too have had some as well. It is as I've come to believe there is such a thin curtain between life and death. We never really lose those we love in this life they live on not only on the other side but in our hearts and memories. Thank you so much for sharing your story - it gives me goosebumps. Hugs Debbie

  9. Beautiful post! I adore violets too. xoxo, B

  10. My dear Loree, I have to be honest. In my own heart and in my own way, I have no doubt that your Nanna came to see your little boy, and let you know in the way she knew you would understand.

    That is sincerely what I believe when I read your beautiful words. I will never see or smell violets again without thinking of this.

  11. Fascinating post. Wonderful conjectures. Why are some inclined to completely have faith while others are not? My husband talk about this all the time. We know people who all of a sudden "find religion" and the church becomes the center of their existence. We wonder about that dramatic turn in their lives. We are not drawn to one particular religious doctrine but rather to similarities that tie them all together. I love your violet story. I don't know what to make of it either...except that it must be something wonderful and .... good.

  12. I'm inclined to believe that the "veil" was lifted, and you did indeed smell your nanna's special scent.

  13. Hello Loree

    I love this post and love the connection of violets and your late gransmother.
    I just found your blog, through beautiful Heather, Lost in Arles. As your new follower I am looking forward to knowing your blog.

    Helen x


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