I live in Southern California and the majority of my family lives in Ohio. Of course, there are no winter visits for me – too cold! Every spring, though, I begin to get excited about my summer visit and would start buying little gifts to take home for my family, and in particular my favorite uncle, my mother's brother. We had a bond since childhood and he was a big part of why I went home each year. I used to love to snuggle up beside him and he would tell me some tale. The smell of his cologne always brought me comfort. He could always make me smile.
Well, summer came in 2001, and off I went to Ohio. It was a lovely time. One of my nieces was graduating from high school and we had the traditional family barbecue to celebrate. She was queen for the day! My uncle, who was a great cook, also invited my mom, aunts and sisters over to his house before I was to leave for Sunday dinner and to see his new place which he had recently moved into. We went and it was nice – the food was great and we had a high time laughing and talking. I noted that there was a big space over his television that was just calling out for a picture or something.
The next day before I left, I had my sister take me shopping and I found the perfect picture for him. It was an ocean scene, very peaceful and serene – the way he always made me feel. So I bought it and on the way to the airport, we stopped by his house so I could say goodbye and present him with the gift. He was quite happy, but sad also to see me go.
I got back home and settled back into my life on the west coast. I was in school taking some classes and working, quite busy. I talked to my family or e-mailed them regularly and chatted with my uncle monthly, who assured me that he had hung up his picture right away and it was perfect! He loved it and everybody who came into his home always commented on its beauty.
One day I was driving to school had the windows up and the radio on, humming right along when all of a sudden I caught this strong waft of a man's cologne! I looked around in the car and of course there was no one there but me. Immediately I thought, "That smells like Uncle Charles' cologne!" It only lasted about a minute or two, but the fragrance was unmistakable. I thought how strange, but it immediately warmed my heart, made me smile and sent me into a reverie about him, family memories and how much he meant in my life. I went on to school.
I came home and as I was unlocking the door I could hear the phone ringing, so I hurried in and was able to catch it. It was my mother calling to say that my Uncle Charles had a massive heart attack and died that morning. Of course, I was very saddened by it, but then I asked what time did it happen. She told me and I realized that with the three-hour time difference it would have been exactly when I had smelled his fragrance in my car! I believe he must have thought of me as he was leaving his body and came to say goodbye. It is one of the most heartwarming experiences I have ever had and keeps my uncle near and dear to me!