Smelly Memories

Every once in a while, I have this urge to make split pea soup and when I do, I am reminded of my late grandma. Maybe I have the urge because I just want to feel like she’s near me… or maybe she is and that’s why I get the urge. It’s the smell of the dill in the soup in combination with the root vegetables and split peas (yes, they do have a hint of a smell).

According to How Stuff Works: “A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it’s sometimes called the “emotional brain,” smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously.”

Today at lunch when I heated up my split pea soup and I started to smell the dill scent wafting, I was brought back to a time in my childhood. There was always a lot of people at my grandparent’s house. With 10 children and many more grandchildren, there was always a lot of kids running around. However, I am brought to a time when I was one of the only kids in the house with my grandma. I was playing in the living room and my grandma was at her post in the kitchen. She would shuffle back and forth from the stove to the cupboard to the table, over and over. She was always cooking for everyone. Her arthritic hands stirred the soup or kneaded the dough… she provided food for her family. When I became a cyclist, she would knit me toque after toque and give it to my mom to give to me to keep my head warm while I biked. I am still amazed at how non-judgmental and supportive she was, even when other people in my family were not.

When she was in the hospital, only days before she passed away after being on this earth for 89 years, I visited her in the evening and fed her ice cream. She loved ice cream, all cream, really. What good Mennonite doesn’t?!? She made a cute comment about how our roles were reversed and I was taking care of her and that this is what happens when one gets old. She lived long enough to see her kids and grandkids take care of her and that was long enough.

All of these memories spawned from a bowl of soup. Isn’t the human mind amazing.

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