I remember the smell of my mother’s coat when she came in from outside in the cold New York City winter. It was mixed with cool air and her distinctive perfume. I loved that smell because it meant that she was home for good. I didn’t have to worry. I was safe.
Before I smelled that smell I would sit on the black leather couch and watch cartoons while I waited for her. Animaniacs, Batman the Animated Series, and Tiny Toons were some of my favorites. I would zero in on the television in order to escape the fact that she wasn’t there. My mother was in a mysterious place called “work.”
I remember her old work phone number 644-8100. There was a receptionist named Nydia who worked there. I would call and say “Can I speak to Liz Fader please?” It was comforting to know that I could reach her at any time if I needed to. I would call her multiple times after I got home from school just to make sure she was still alive.
My mother worked in public relations. She wrote press releases. She was great at what she did.
The hours I spent anticipating her return home as a nine year-old were palpable. I missed her.
But I was content to sit on my couch and watch cartoons because I knew that at some point that door would open and I would get to smell her and embrace her black down coat. That hug (that embrace) was wonderful.
The cool sensation of her coat and her smell made me feel whole again. If I close my eyes, I can still smell her.