Nieces who grow up just make me sad

This is my wonderful, adorable, feisty niece, Samantha, who shares my love of perfume, as does her mother.  My sister named her Samantha because my dad tried to name both her and me Samantha, which my mom vetoed, yelling something about “I already have three boys named Tom, Dick and Harry, I don’t need a girl called Sam!”  My sister, Shirley, and I both preferred that name to the ones we got,  but who knew?    My Dad always called her Sammie Dean, the Cajun Queen. They were fast friends from the moment she was born.    

Sammie Dean (Samantha Nadine, her middle name after my mom who didn’t get a middle name) graduates from high school this Saturday. I never had any daughters, so she’s been like a daughter to me, but better — I’ve gotten all the fun parts of playing girls with her and none of the heartache. My sister calls us by each other’s names, and that’s either because she confuses us or she’s just lost her damn mind or both. We fight like cats and dogs — she’s just obstinate and stubborn and crabby and moody, and I love my niece dearly, she’s much more like her mother than like me, as I’m sure you all have surmised.

My oldest son moved out a few months ago, leaving me a little short in the kids in the house department, and now my cranky, wonderful niece will be going off to college for nursing this fall,and I will see her so much less, and that’s so sad because it has been so much fun watching her grow up and become this really great, though cantankerous, human being.  Have I mentioned how crabby she can be?  Have I mentioned how hard it is to watch the young people you love move away and take their lives with them?

Over these many years, we have shared a love of shoes and makeup and perfume, all the girlie things that I have missed with a house full of boys.  Her favorite perfumes are La Chasse and Rose Ikebana and de Rosine Un Zeste de Rose (a bottle of her own she is getting for part of her graduation present), and it’s been so much fun letting her try all of my perfumes and figure out which ones she likes and which ones she doesn’t like.  She dances and acts and is anything but a shrinking flower, and she’s so tiny, but eats nonstop. We have a running joke about her summer fat she puts on — every summer, when she is out of school, she has all day to graze through more candy than Hershey has, and she puts on 5 pounds over 3 months (approx 5,000 candy calories a day times 90 days equal 5 pounds for her, about 45 for me), which disappears about two weeks after school starts.  I’ll miss the little girl she has been, but regret that there will be too little time with her now that she’s getting really interesting.

    But in the meantime

I have my three great-nieces

that I get to play girls with.

And these three are ALL still Barbie age. Oh, pipe down all you anti-Barbie people. Barbies are fun as long as you don’t take them seriously. They’re certainly not any worse than having little girls watch artifically enhanced singers and actresses and think they should look like that instead of something they know is plastic. Well, they both are plastic, but Barbie doesn’t have a heartbeat and doesn’t try to fool you that she isn’t plastic.

There was a perfume error yesterday.  All that talk of Borneo made me wistful to wear it, and I spritzed some on and then went and trained people all day, having to lean over them. Then I happened to think… I wonder if they think I smell like dusty chocolate cobwebs and if I smelled like that on purpose or had been rustling around in the attic of a chocolate factory?  Just because I think it smells good doesn’t mean everyone else will.  I think tomorrow I’ll put on the Criminelle so they can wonder why I smell like tuberose that has a cold and is slathered with Vick’s Vaporub, carrying a whip.

Does anyone think we go out too far on a limb perfume-wise?  Are we learning to appreciate the different and ugly for what they are or in spite of what they are?  We had lots of Barbies when we were little girls, and we cut off their hair and drew glasses in blue ink pen around their eyes and smushed the boobs on one or two of them so they could be the boy doll, and they just looked like anything but a beautiful Barbie, but we still thought they were beautiful, mostly because they were the only Barbies we had.

We choose what we love.   My life has been so rich because I’ve had great choices and the luxury to love the odd and different and to even encourage that oddity in those people that I love.  Is perfume so much different?  As Yeats said “A pity beyond all telling Is hid in the heart of love.”  It is in the flaw and the cracks and oddities that love has a way to flow in.


  • Cait says:

    Dear Patty,
    You are so great. Your nieces are lucky to have you.

  • Patty says:

    Dale, so glad you popped in.

    Kindergarten? Oh, no. I hate to tell you, but once they hit school age, time just speeds up, and before you know it, you are watching them pack their things in a garbage bag and boxes and head off for their new life where you are just a spectator. But maybe we are always just spectators and fool ourselves into thinking it is more.

  • Patty says:

    R, I so agree with you, girls are fun, but I think I have more fun with girls at a distance, though the older I get, the more I appreciate those gawky ages from 10-19 or so, when they are trying on who they are and learning so much and forming their character.

    We had Francie, Midge, Skipper and then this Penny doll, do you remember that one? No boy dolls. I’m not sure why we were short in the boy doll department. i think we were pretty sure out brothers would do trashy things to them, which was only fine if we did them.

    I’ll give her an extra hug from y’all this Saturday.

  • Patty says:

    Thank you, Kuri. I thought I was doing some chain of dissasociative thinking, and all of it went together in my head, but when I hit publish, I was afraid anyone who read it would go… huh? I have a lot of days like that. 🙂

  • Patty says:

    Thanks, Pam. Enjoy them now. Some of my best memories growing up are of my aunts — I had what seemed like hundreds of them. I bet you are really wonderful aunt.

    My husband gave up commenting about what I smelled like, because if he thinks it is weird and opens his mouth, he will be treated to a 15-minute dissertation of the genius of some perfumer or company he has never heard of, and then I scurry off to let him sniff some of the other odd things. He’s a good husband and just doesn’t say anything now. 🙂

  • Patty says:

    Marina, I’ll take her! Especially if she’ll play in perfume and makeup with me.

  • Patty says:

    Yes, march, come play Barbies! It’s so much more fun now than I remember it being.

    I thought about taking your suggestion this morning, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I don’t hate them or anything like that. 🙂

  • Dale Price says:

    Good stuff, Patty.

    Unfortunately, you remind me–not that I need much–that my eldest is starting kindergarten this year.

    Too fast, too fast, too fast.

  • violetnoir says:

    OMG, Patty, you are a fu*&ing poet! This is the most poignantly beautiful post you have written, and you write a heck of a lot of good ones. =d>

    Your niece sounds like an amazing young woman! And I can tell that you absolutely adore her down to her painted toenails. Girls can be so tough to love sometimes. But if you take a deep breath and get past all their girly moodiness, little gems and true bonds do form. My favorite years with my 16 year old were the junior high ones. Call me crazy (and I know a lot of you are thinking that), but I love that moody-blue, prickly, in-your-face, LOUD age group of girls. Just love ’em!

    And hey–I was a Barbie junkie! I had the kip and kaboodle when I was growing up, including Ken, Midge, Alan, Francie, Skipper, Scooter, and–oh I forget the little ones’ names. My best friend, Stephanie Speed, and I played endless hours of Barbie in her basement. We both loved Francie the best. Remember Francie?

    Much love to you and your darling nieces!

  • kuri says:

    Lovely, sweet, poetic post.

  • Pam says:


    A touchingly beautiful post. Your niece is gorgeous, and your great-nieces are precious.

    My oldest niece turned 12 earlier this year; it seems like only yesterday that I held her as a baby. Tempus surely fugit. I’m introducing my nieces to different scents and gave them some decants a couple months ago. They live in a different town, so I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like.

    Agree about the way people perceive some scents. As my OSQ (odd smell quotient) increases, I make the effort not to smell too unusual around others who may not appreciate different smells. Though sometimes I think even a standard like No 19 seems odd to the people I interface with (the Happy, Romance and Euphoria crowd) but I wear it anyway.

    Wonderful post, P. Have a great day, all!~o)

  • Marina says:

    Awww! She is such a pretty girl!

    If you feel a little short in the kiddies department, you are welcome to adopt my little one as an honorary niece. She’s cranky too. You’d have your hands full, that’s for sure. :d

  • March says:

    Wow, what a beautiful, thoughtful post.@};-

    Can I come play Barbies with your great nieces? I’m an excellent cake-baker, too. They can lick the bowl.

    Yes, I think you’re exactly right about difficult perfumes. I appreciate them the way I appreciate people, there’s a complexity and an unexpected outcome. Malle’s Une Rose (thanks for the new juice!) is either a goddess on me, or an actual scrubber that involves taking my clothes immediately to the washer. That has not stopped me from wearing it.

    Having said that, I am still giggling on your wearing Borneo to the office. Yeah, actually, maybe you could LAYER it with the TC. That’ll get their attention.:))