Being five years old – we left my grandma behind in Los Angeles when we moved to Alaska summer 1957:
I have always remembered my grandmother’s large walk-through closet that seemed big as a bedroom to me. I can feel the smooth curved edges of the cool glass of the knob I turned when I entered from her bedroom. There were little windows high up on both closet doors that let in enough light during the day I could see my way to walk through from one end to the other. I slid my feet slowly through the darkened wide isle of Grandmother’s clothes. They hung around me on both sides. I just barely touch the soft fabrics with my fingertips as I passed.
I arched my neck back so I could gaze toward the ceiling at rows of pretty round hat boxes stacked high on the shelves. Down below her shoes were perched at strange angles from what I was used to, lined up neatly on shoe racks. At the far end of the closet there were hooks on the walls. On one side was a little wooden bench. Her bathrobe hung at this end, her belts, even some long scarves and handbags.
I remember the smell of my grandmother stayed behind me in that room when I went out the other door into a long wide curved dim hallway painted dark shiny green on the bottom to just above the height of my eyes. The ceiling was far above my head. As I walked down it into her kitchen at the back corner of her house I thought about that mysterious room and about Grandma.
Grandmother carried her smell around with her, but in that closet there was so much Grandma smell I could breathe it in and breathe it out, in and out slowly and there was always more. Tears flow down my cheeks as I write these words. In the 18 years of my childhood I know that it was only in this place, in this amazing closet that I ever felt safe.