“Take this,” she said to him—an old woman
sitting in her favorite chair, upstairs,
living in a house built by the man she loved,
in a room where life happened
and memories were built.
She was a mother above all things,
loving and caring,
and she handed him a white silken scarf
which had been folded carefully.
“This belonged to your father,” she said,
a wife, a widow in mourning.
He looked at the scarf, a boy, a son growing up
a young man going through in changes
between teenager and manhood.
He remarked with a smile,
“I remember that scarf.
Pop used to wear it a long time ago.”
He smiled, a son, a child of his father
and carefully took the scarf
from his mother’s hand.
“I remember when he wore this,” said the son.
“I remember this and his white dress shoes.”
She smiled, a woman happy to reminisce
about the man she loved
and the husband she lost.
“Your father had his own style,” she said.
Then she let out a laugh
as if the result of an old memory
flashed through her mind.
It was the kind of laugh that showed
she was grateful.
It was the kind which put a tear in her eye
in part because of laughter and partly
because she loved and missed
the love of her life.
“Smell it,” she told her son and nodded
as if it was a magic trick.
“Smell it?” the son asked.
“What do I want to smell it for, Ma?
It’s just an old scarf.”
She smiled softly at her son.
She spoke to assure him of her trick
in a warm, motherly voice.
“Just smell it, son.”
Curious as to why,
the boy lifted the white silken scarf to his face.
At first he smelled the scarf from a slight distance.
Then the son detected a familiar scent.
He quickly pressed the scarf up to face,
closing his eyes, and inhaling the most loving,
“It smells like Pop,” said the son.
He continued to smell the old scarf.
“It smells just like him,” he repeated and asked,
“Where’d you get this?”
“I found it one day when I needed it most.
in a drawer of your father’s clothes.
It was tucked in the back of the drawer,”
explained the mother.
“I took it out of the drawer
and remembered the last time he wore it.
And well, you know your mother,
so of course I started to cry.
Then I put the scarf up to my face
so I could just feel close to your father again,
and when I did, I could smell him.”
With a bitter sweetness,
the mother explained to her youngest son,
“I probably hated that cologne
when your father was still alive,
but oh God, do I love it now.”
The son stood in front of his mother,
admiring the scarf with a childlike stare.
It was the kind of stare that a young boy gives
when seeing his father, a hero,
and the son lost himself in a moment of memory.
He placed it to his face again and said,
“I can’t believe it smells just like him.”
The mother explained, “Whenever I need to,
I take out that scarf. I hold it and talk.
I talk out loud and tell him everything that’s on my mind.
Then I tell him about you, son.
I tell him, ‘Ronald, you should see him now.
You’d be so proud.”
I wish you could see me now, Mom.
I wish I had more scarves
like the one you gave me that day.
I wish I had one for both of you.
This way I could feel like you felt
when you need it most.
This way I could know in my heart
that at last, you’re both together,
smiling happily, and proud of what you see.
I miss you