More than Just a Bottle of Après l’Ondée

Last summer, my maternal grandmother had a stroke only two weeks before our family reunion. Up until then she had been a healthy 88 year-old, a feisty woman who’d battled breast cancer 30 years before and won. It wasn’t easy to hear that after the stroke she was alternating between periods of confusion and lucidity, and that she might not recognize us when we saw her for the family gathering.

For a lot of the reunion, it was hard to tell if Grandma knew us or not. She’s smile and give hugs, but didn’t say much and stayed close to Grandpa. But the last morning we gathered her mind was clear, and she stood up and spoke to all of us. She told us that she loved us, that she wanted us to live good lives, to remember what was most important. She had a fierceness about her as she spoke. It was a goodbye of sorts, and I think we all knew it.

At the beginning of December my grandma passed away. Her funeral was well-attended, and lovely in the strange way that a funeral can be when someone has lived a full, great life.

A couple of weeks later I got a Christmas card from her and Grandpa in the mail.

I suppose for some it could be an upsetting, possibly even disturbing thing to receive. But you have to know my grandparents. They’d been faithfully sending Christmas cards and birthday cards to us grandkids since we’d been children, and there was always a handwritten note from my Grandma. They never missed, and the card was never late.

All of our growing up years, there was always a present as well. Later on it turned into a generous amount of cash. Eventually we grandkids insisted that the cash wasn’t necessary, that it should be our turn to spoil them. They eventually stopped sending cheques for our birthdays, but when it came to Christmas, they insisted. They wanted us to enjoy ourselves, and the only condition was that we report to them what neat thing we did with the money.

So mid-December I opened up that Christmas card and there was my grandmother’s handwriting, with a personal note that spoke of my children by name and the exciting year we had ahead of us. I stood there with grateful tears, knowing that she’d probably worked on those Christmas cards throughout the fall in her lucid moments, that she had taken those moments of clarity to write to us. And that my Grandfather, despite his grief, had still mailed them out on schedule after she died.

I sat on that Christmas money for months, waiting for just the right thing. In the meantime, I’d purchased a new bottle of Après l’Ondée, hearing about the reformulation, but taking a chance. It wasn’t the same as the sample I’d drained. I wondered if I’d ever be able to smell that scent again.

Then someone on Facebook Fragrance Friends offered an older, almost-full bottle for sale. And wonder of wonders, not only did she live in Canada but offered it to me for the exact amount of my Christmas money. It was the perfect fit for a bittersweet gift; an ethereal and melancholy beauty that can’t be purchased anymore.

So here’s my report, Grandma. I bought an amazing fragrance in your honor, and when I wear it, I think of you.

Miss you, Grandma. Love, Dionne

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45 thoughts on “More than Just a Bottle of Après l’Ondée

  1. You just brought tears to my eyes.
    This is such a perfect, albeit, a bitter-sweet way to have something more to remember your grandmother by.

      1. Thank you, Ines. I admit, I got a bit teary when I wrote it. And I had The Engineer give it a read-through for a second opinion as I didn’t want it to be too maudlin or too much, as this is one of my “Here’s my heart, world” posts.

    1. Thomas, I thought of your grandma when I was writing this, too, and how fortunate we are when we have such wonderful people in our lives. My own children never knew their paternal grandmother, as she passed away when Bones was only 2, and I’ve always felt sad that they never knew how great she was.

      I feel extremely grateful that my children have had the opportunity to know three of their great-grandparents; it’s also wonderful that all of my grandparents were alive when I married The Engineer, as both of his grandfathers had died before he was born, and he loved getting to know them.

        1. Reading your grandma post gave me a twinge in the heart, but it was a good twinge. And my other grandma, my spunky/salty/life of the party paternal grandma is still kickin’ it, for which I am grateful.

  2. That was a beautiful post. I was so reminded of my own grandmother, whom I was close to. And you’re right Apres l*ondee pre-reformulation was the best you could get for your Xmas money.

    1. Thank you, Asali. It was especially important to me that I make a fitting purchase as I suspect it will be the last Christmas card. My grandfather is not doing well, and the family doesn’t think he has much longer; my grandparents were married for 65 years and crazy about each other, and his health is suddenly failing in the way that often happens when a long-term couple is separated.

  3. What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. I am so impressed with your story and what you did and with the great spirit of your lovely grandmother. Bravo!

          1. You’re welcome. I’m a huge fan of Undina’s policy of letting people add their own links in the comments; it’s enjoyable to look out for each other (especially us newbies). 🙂

  4. It’s a beautiful, beautiful post and it’s so great that you had a grandmother who inspires you to share this story with us. And it’s wonderful that your kids grow up in a family with such bonds and traditions.
    Thank you, Dionne.

    1. Thanks, Undina. I’m very fortunate that all of my grandparents are spectacular people, and are wonderful examples of great marriages and commitment to family, hard work and kindness.

  5. Lovely post. I’m sure your grandmother would have appreciated the care you put into how you spent that money, and the beautiful thing you bought in her honour.

  6. I’m heading out for ten days of glorious camping; which means if there are any more comments, I’ll respond when I get back. Have a lovely week, everyone!

  7. Thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful, personal story withus, Dionne. It must have felt like your Grandma was sending this special bottle to you.

    Further proof that perfume can connect us in ways most people can’t imagine.

    1. You’re very welcome, Tara. It’s almost uncanny how much Après l’Ondée is the perfect fit as my last gift from my grandparents, so it did feel like she had a hand.

  8. That was the most touching story. It filled me with the most wonderful, loving memories of my grandmother. It was beautiful. Thank you for sharing and touching my heart when I read it.

  9. Apres L’Ondee is such a great choice to remember your grandmother by – it is nearly her contemporary (give or take a decade or so!), and has a wistful, melancholy vibe that is perfect for quiet contemplation of happy times in her company.

  10. DIonne, thank you for sharing that story! Such a heartfelt, personal story attached to a beautiful perfume. Strange how perfectly some things work out eh?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And you’re right, there’s a very pleasing symmetry to how it all worked it, like it was meant to be.

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