“Mrs. Dully and Rose Water”


I have mentioned Mrs. Dully earlier in my writings, as she is the woman who owned the big radio I thought might be a television. She was my Estonian babysitter and took care of me from the ages of 3 to 5 1/2 when my parents went out.

My memories of her are all visceral. She was very squishy and felt wonderful when she hugged me. She always smelled like roses, which I assume now came from wearing rose water as a perfume. When I smell roses now, I am transported back to a time of safety and affection.

My favorite place to be was on her lap in our rocking chair. I don’t think I ever told her that my life was difficult, but she just seemed to know it. She provided a consistent source of loving attention at a time when I felt quite emotionally alone. Of course, I didn’t know that I was emotionally alone. I just knew that some deep place in me responded to her rose smelling, squishy feeling body when she was rocking me.

She disappeared from my life very suddenly, with an explanation that put the blame on me. In retrospect, I know that I had done nothing to keep her away. I don’t know what she might have seen or what she might have heard in our home. At any rate, I never saw her again. As an adult, I found her grave and set flowers on it on Mother’s Day, thanking her for the selfless mothering she had given me when I so needed it.

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