graphite on bristol vellum
5.5 x 7"
Last week, my son graduated from his Army basic training in South Carolina. The Army was kind enough to let us have him for two days, then they took him back. But while I had him near, I hugged him - A LOT.
Before he left for his next duty station, he changed into "civies" in our hotel room where he inadvertently left one of his berets behind. (I called before he got too far down the road; but not to worry he has plenty.) So, joy, I get to keep a little piece of him around for a while.
Now, I need to tell you what I did next: I smelled his beret. I didn't plan it; I just did it. And yes, it smelled like him. It was just a way of conjuring him up again.
My husband and younger son told me that what I had just done was weird. At first, I did not think so; but on further thinking about it, maybe it was. I've put the question to one of my sisters and she assured me that I am normal and that she might have done the same thing. But then I thought, well maybe it's just a weird family thing.
But here's what I really think (and maybe some of you could put me straight here): mom's smell their children's heads all the time. It's one of the first things we do after they're born and, when they're grown men, you can still kiss the tops of their heads without them felling too smothered. Moms always know their own child's "head-smell". I think I could line up hats from all of my kids and pick out which belonged to each kid. Maybe it's a throw back to our more primitive selves where we probably had to pick our cubs out of the pack by their smell.
Ah well, I have his beret here next to me even though he's far away. And, weird or not, as any mother missing her cub, I will continue give his beret a little sniff once in a while.