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Mom's Visit and the Smell of Gardenias
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Witness: M.J. Downs
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Encounter: May 11, 2003

My mother passed away suddenly on May 6th of this year after a trying year of ill health. She was desperately trying to stay alive and well for my daughter's wedding on May 10. At the wedding, the gardenia she was to have worn (her favorite flower — she was wed with a corsage of them, 61 years ago) was placed on the altar by the unity candle. Our daughter wore a matching one in her hair in lieu of a veil. The night of Mother's Day, after the kids had left on their honeymoon, and all the false courage was laid aside, I went to bed for the evening, totally exhausted. I was asleep, and my mother showed up and she said, "I was talking to your dad and he said that you had a really nice wedding — the reception was wonderful, and the buns were especially good." It was so real that I woke up, and the smell of gardenias in the bedroom was so strong that it made my eyes water. I could still feel the spot on my leg where she had patted it. there were no wedding flowers in the house — so I know it was not a carryover from that. I know that it was mom, telling me that she was okay with things.

Her mother had a similar experience back in the 60's — only her experience recurred over three nights, after the sudden death of her husband under anesthesia. He was seeking help getting into heaven, and when she instructed him that he had to do it himself, he sighed, left the room, and closed the door after himself. I don't know if that sort of thing "runs in the family" or what, but while I am not exactly freaked out by this, it does give me pause. It was a gentle experience, but definitely stayed with me.

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Photo by Frank Grace

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