I smelled it on the street last evening, just a whiff left by somebody who must have just gotten into a car. He – it must have been a he – couldn’t have been going into a building, and it calls for more leisure than a cigarette addict can spare on a 10-minute break. So I imagine his wife must have been late driving by the corner where she picks him up from work, and he had pulled out his pipe, filled its bowl with tobacco, and patiently passed the time waiting for his ride.
The smell of pipe tobacco always reminds me of my father – oddly, since he gave up his pipe sometime before he was baptized, when I was only five years old. While I choke on second-hand cigarette smoke and gag when I find myself walking behind a cigar, I confess that I actually like the sweet scent of pipe tobacco.
I have pictures of my dad holding his pipe. Mom said he never really smoked it, just lit it and forgot he was holding it until he discovered it had gone out. Somehow, though, the smell of pipe tobacco makes me feel cozy and loved, and I can only guess it is because that is how I felt as a tiny girl cuddled in my dad’s arms, unconsciously making memories.
One night when I had an earache – could I have been more than two or three? – Dad came to my bedside and relieved it by blowing hot smoke into my ear. I have other memories of him at my bedside, blessing me by the power of the priesthood, one time assisted by my mother because no other elder was available .
Somehow I overlooked last Wednesday the second anniversary of Dad’s passing. It took the ghost of some stranger’s pipe tobacco yesterday to remind me how much I miss him.
1. mami Sat, Oct. 14 @ 10:35pm
Ardis you have quickly become one of my most favorite posters.
2. DKL Sun, Oct. 15 @ 7:40am
What a great post. I love the smell of tobacco because I started smoking after BYU threw me out. I could write a post about how I love the smell of tobacco smoke, and I’m sure there would be some self-righteous types who scold me for not getting over it. Affection for un-Mormon habits is, thankfully, perfectly fine when they’re connected to memories of a loved one.
3. pdoe Sun, Oct. 15 @ 8:00pm
While I was disappointed when my father stopped attending church, secretly I felt that the ham-and-cheese omlettes he made for me on Sunday morning were a good trade-off!
4. Paula Sun, Oct. 15 @ 10:13pm
For me it’s the smell of coffee. It takes me straight back to my maternal grandparents’ kitchen, on a cold Utah morning.
5. annegb Mon, Oct. 16 @ 9:40am
Me,too, Paula! I would wake up and sleepily listen to their murmurs and quiet talk and smell the good coffee smell as Grandma got Grandpa off to work. It was such a good secure feeling.
6. john f. Mon, Oct. 16 @ 6:53pm
I love the smell of pipe tobacco and coffee too.
This post originally appeared at Mormon Mentality on 14 October 2006