You are looking at my childhood right there.
One of the few memories so strong that even a hint of Wintergreen Skoal tobacco transports me back to a kitchen, where Grandpa’s round cans sat at the counter-end next to a bowl of colorful M&M’s, intentionally set out for our every giggly stay-over.
Jo-Jo in the kitchen, whipping up breakfast and Pap coming up to give her a kiss good morning, saying “My Jo-Jo” and we’d grin and greedily reply, “No, our Jo-Jo!”
Country Man and I visited the two at their Arizona home recently, and the moment my feet entered the doorway I was hit with such nostalgia that I almost cried. I was seven again, I was loved, life was so very uncomplicated. I am in tears thinking about it.
The thing that baffled me was how the smell was exactly the same. The combination of soap, Wintergreen Skoal, and unique skin that combines into this most beautiful scent that if I could bottle it up, I would pay high dollar just for the opportunity to lift the lid and enjoy the time travel for the rest of my days.
My grandparents seemed the same to me, looked the same, too. They eagerly hugged us, lodged us, and fed us. Paps even played tour guide, a little more slowly than 22 years ago but with the same enthusiasm.
It might sound strange, but I missed them even while with them. I missed their youth, somehow jealous that I will never know their pre-grandparent selves. I miss my grandma’s beautiful laugh, my grandpa’s love for the flea market and how he called us “his girls”.
I miss them because I have the crisp memories, and because some day, that’s all I will ever have.