Hello… from the actual other side….

I’m big on birthdays.  I just love them.  And not just those of my kids where hundreds of dollars evaporate from my wallet even before I enter Party City.  I also love my birthday where I turn my family into my own personal slaves forced to do my bidding for the day.  I’m big on birthdays of famous people (Jane Goodall, April 3rd) (and a Happy birthday to Bernie Sanders on September 8th) and I’m big on birthdays of people that I love that are no longer around.

This week on August 31st, my grandmother, Opal, would have been 115.  She died when she was 86 and I miss her very much.  She was a no bullshit Southern lady who used her Fry Daddy like a samurai warrior and whose delicious cornbread I have never, ever been able to recreate.  So on the morning of August 31st, I looked into the sky and said “Happy Birthday, Opal”.  Then, since I have one of her chairs in my apartment in Los Angeles I sat in it, sipped my coffee and thought about her.


It’s empty… or is it????

Now let me back up a second.

The hardest part of my Hollywood adventure has been when my husband and children are in Sebastopol and I’m in Hollywood alone.  This last week was one of those weeks.  I’m usually fine at work, but after work I miss them very much.  So on this particular evening — the evening of Opal’s birthday, I was walking to Barnes and Noble and missing my family and feeling completely alone.  I fished around in my purse to get something and suddenly I smelled a  huge whiff of Estee Lauder perfume — the same kind of perfume Opal used her entire life.  I thought, Wow, how funny, somebody’s wearing Opal’s perfume on her birthday and I looked up to see who it was and —

— there was NO ONE THERE.

I was completely alone on the sidewalk.  I stopped walking.  I just stood there for a moment, stunned.  You know, it’s not like Estee Lauder perfume is carried in on Trade Winds.  It was just sooooooo weird.  The kind of weird you just can’t shrug off.

So I just smiled and said to thin air, (very much like a crazy person) “Hi, Opal.”

And suddenly, I didn’t feel lonely anymore because I knew I wasn’t alone.

Which leaves me with a final thought for you —

If you think it might be nice to contact a loved one after you die, you should really think about how you smell while you’re alive.  I mean, seriously, how else are they going to know you’re there?

So what will it be?  Roses or beer nuts?  Tacos?  An old dog blanket?  Patchouli?  A bar of new soap?

Think carefully about how you smell because it’s how you’re going to smell…. FOREVER!!!!!!


  • Lesia says:

    So funny – about the smell our kids will associate with us. Given that I don’t tend to shower on weekends, when they get the most time with me, I hate to think what that may be. For now the younger two are pretty accepting. Mama is mama. My oldest is more judgemental; I could say that she’s a teenager, so no wonder, but the truth is that she’s always been that way. What your post reminded me of was this: that my youngest asked me whether people have birthdays after they die. I’d told my middle child hat they stay the same age. I loved that you wrote that Opal would have been (and maybe is) 115. Cool!

    • Holly Hester says:

      That’s funny. I’m not sure what my kids would say I smell like either? Cookies maybe? I eat a lot of them. Maybe Opal is 115 or still 86. I don’t know. I just know she was definitely around!

  • vicki marsh says:

    My Dad had some crazy abnormal (irritating) sensitivity to aromas…smells. So, my Mom could never wear colognes or use soaps or detergents with scents…she eventually even had to stop wearing lipstick because he “said” he could even pick up the scent in that! His Dad had about 20 or so hunting dogs in West Virginia, which he kept outside in huge pens, because he believed animals didn’t belong in homes so of course my Dad inherited that belief. Keeping all that in mind, what struck me odd my whole life was that I always had a cat growing up, IN THE HOUSE, when I was in high school he got me a mutt and let me keep it in the house, and I wore cologne and used shampoos with scent all the time…..no rhyme or reason. Anyway, I digress. My Mom died 11 years ago and I went to Florida to help Dad with things and he asked me to pack away her clothes…..I took the 1st article of her clothing out of her closet and instinctively held it up to my face to smell it, smell her…..nothing. Not one single item of hers had a single scent of her….she had no scent. I smelled all her clothes, in all her dresser drawers, even her pj’s…..in search of just one trace of a scent of her to take home with me….nothing. So, I would add….not only be careful WHAT your scent is that you will be remembered by……HAVE a scent that those who love you can linger on, can bring you back by. My 14 yr old grandson still tells me how he loves to smell me on pillows after I’ve spent the night at their house, or he’s slept at mine. Such sweetness.

    • Holly Hester says:

      Wow, what an interesting story. So it sounds like you have a good scent to stick with forever… I thought for a second you were going to say that your dad smelled like dogs!

  • Hmm, I smell like dye free, scent free soap. Now home will I haunt my children?

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