Cartier Les Heures

Seems like I should leave a warning before I spiral off into something more personal, which I usually just avoid doing, but the part below isn’t a comfortable subject for lots of people, so feel free to skip down to the perfume review  of Cartier Les Heures below it.

This last weekend I went through hospice training. I have another session this weekend for 11th Hour training, which is to train people to be at the bedside of someone who is actively, imminently dying so they don’t have to be alone – because they don’t have anyone or their family member just needs a break.

For all of my life, if someone had asked me what volunteer activity I would be most likely to do,  working in hospice would have been last on the list.  I’m not sure when that changed – that I lost most of my fear of death or else just overcame my aversion to the subject or just felt more comfortable with my mortality.

I think it was after my dad died. We all knew he didn’t want to check out in a hospital or wind up in a nursing home, so the DNR was signed without anyone really talking about it.  And then he got to come home, but got sick a day later and was actively dying, but he was taken back over to the hospital — I’m not sure why?  Because that’s what we thought we were supposed to do. We didn’t want him to die, so we just wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t talk, and we never asked him how he wanted to finish unwinding from his body and where.   I know he wanted, without him saying it, to check out at home, quietly, with the people he loved.  Instead, he wound up back in the hospital.  Nobody really told us that he was actively dying, we all just thought he was sick.  All of us living hours away from home stayed put.  My mom was with him, but got the flu and had to go home, and he died early that next morning before anyone could get back over. It happened 13 years ago, but it still haunts me that he didn’t check out the way I know he wanted to go, and not one one of us was sitting by his bed holding his hand to tell him goodbye and thanks for sharing his huge,  sometimes infuriating, wonderful life with us when he took his last breath.

Well, that’s how I got to hospice.  They do amazing work in helping people go the way they want and giving the families support and help in honoring those wishes.  But that’s not why I’m writing about this, it’s just an explanation because we all have a story for why we wind up where we do.  During the training, we did an exercise where we had to envision that we were unwinding from life, we were sitting in the chair beside our bed for probably the last time, we knew we probably wouldn’t have the strength to do it again, and we wanted to write one last letter.

So we all wrote our letter, with lots of sniffling and sobbing and tears.  What I found in writing my letter is what most of us would expect.  First, I couldn’t write a letter to my kids in that setting because I was not prepared to sob that much in public. But I made a note to myself that I want to write those letters in my own time so they will have them forever.  My letter didn’t mention things I had or things I had done, places I had gone, work successes.  It was about how much fun my life had been and thanking all the people in my life for sharing their lives, joys and sorrows with me – that it had given all the color and meaning to my life.

But in the midst of all of that emotion while writing that letter, I could smell my life.  Those feelings took on smell and shape.  I’ve always known that smell is the direct conduit to emotion and memory, but I didn’t know it could work the other way, memory and emotion would bring up smell in my head.

What in the world does all of this have to do with Cartier Les Heures?  Not that much directly, but, hey, it’s my blog, I write about what I want to.   Partly it is a thought I pass along to treasure the people in your life, for good or ill.  It is what you will remember at the end and what brings meaning to the tolling of your days.  Make your end of life wishes completely clear to those close to you now, sign a Medical Durable Power of Attorney for someone you trust to make those decisions for you if you can’t.  If someone you know is terminal, or they have a terminal family member, don’t avoid them because you don’t know what to say or do – the absolute worst thing that will happen is they will cry or sob around you, and it may make you sob or cry,  or you may not know how to comfort them, and you may feel really uncomfortable but, you know?  It doesn’t matter.  All of us will be experts on loss before we get to the end.  Dying can be incredibly isolating and lonely, and there is no wrong thing to say – your presence makes your silence or stumbling absolutely fine.

Okay, end of the PSA portion of this post.

Cartier les heures - perfume reviewThe concept of Cartier Les Heures makes me think of the smell stages of my life – whether that is style or taste or simply my age and emotional makeup at the time.  When you start sniffing them, you can keep drawing those same comparisons of time passing, but that the scent you have passed through will always remain a part of you, even if it’s just the memory in your head.

Cartier Les Heures X Folle has notes of red currant, pink pepper, grenadine, blueberry, black currant, ivy, violet, boxwood, shiso and aldehydes. When I read that list of notes, I thought, Cartier? Seriously?  Fruity ivy and trees? This is for “The Mad Hour.”

Before I go on, Denyse did a whole series of posts on these fragrances and an interview with Mathilde Laurent, who created them, and you really should go read the whole thing.  Very instructive.

This really is the whole fruit experience with joy and zest.  I’d think of this as my late teens and early 20s perfume. Not that I wouldn’t wear it now, but that is the period of my life that this encompasses – mad, irrational, joyous, thoughtless sometimes, illogical, sweet, naive, innocent.  It’s absolutely fruity, but not in that sweet, killmenow way, though it certainly does not avoid the inherent sweetness that you do get with fruit. It just brings along the rest of the fruit bouquet to keep it from being linear.  It’s easy to love, and it completely fits the description, The Mad Hour.  At the end, it rest in a soft bed of mad green sweetness that lets you recall how it all began, but leaves you separate and beyond that time.

Cartier Les Heures XII, Les Mysterieuse, is going to be the runaway bestseller from this fragrance collection.   Patchouli, juniper, coriander, jasmine, elemi, nutmeg, incense.  This is the mysterious hour.  All the material says XII, the 12th hour, but the bottle I have says IIX, the 8th hour.  I think it would be the 12th hour, it smells like that mystical period in your life when you come closer to the end. The contemplative scent that is full of comfort, but it won’t sit easy all the time.  The patchouli starts big, softens, letting all of that gorgeous incense roll in, but the patchouli continuously stirs up the other notes and makes them fuller, richer, bigger because they are infused with life.  This is a beautiful, warm woody incense.

  • Karen G says:

    Thank you for a very thought-provoking post. In this culture, we don’t remember that death and dying are still an important part of life and living.

    Now, that XIII sounds pretty amazing. Juniper? Oh yes, please put me in the draw. Thank you!

  • therabbitsflower says:

    I am so excited to try all of the new Cartier scents are the great reviews here, particularly XIII. So…I would love to be entered in the drawing!

  • Stef says:

    This is a really beautiful post, death is such a personal and emotive subject but not at all out of place on this blog. I really hope yur volunteer work goes well, it takes someone with strong character to play that type of role 🙂

  • maidenbliss says:

    Patty,

    An inspiration to me and obviously to all of us reading about this beautiful endeavor. You will be wonderfully supportive.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    Thank you.

  • anna says:

    that was really brave of you to write about such a personal experience. my grandmother died 10 yrs ago from cancer and it was incredibly sad…
    i really like the red currants, i used to eat them a lot as a kid, and i love the notes in the perfume- please consider me as well.

  • zeram1 says:

    Hi, please enter me into the drawing as well. You know, even with a “recession” they all keep putting out so many fragrances (I can’t keep up)!

  • Scent Hive says:

    Beautiful, loving post Patty.

    And thank you for that reminder to us all to:

    “Make your end of life wishes completely clear to those close to you now, sign a Medical Durable Power of Attorney for someone you trust to make those decisions for you if you can’t.”

    I’d add to that, sign your advanced directives that your primary care provider probably has for you. That would include things like a DNR.

    ~Trish

  • pyramus says:

    Les Mysterieuse sounds a lot like Michael for Men, which has elemi, coriander, and incense in addition to bucketloads of patchouli. Of course, M4M doesn’t have any jasmine, and it also has bucketloads of suede, so probably they’re not that much alike. I suppose I’ll have to hunt the Cartier down and see for myself. You certainly have a way of making it sound irresistible, at any rate.

  • Mikael says:

    Hi Patty, thank you for your hospice story, a touching read. Please do enter me in the draw.

  • KathyT says:

    You are obviously a very caring person to decide to do hospice work. The impending death of a loved one is so frightening and confusing, and I’ve found that hospice workers helped to give some order to the death process for the family as well as the person dying. Thank you for taking on the task of guiding people.

    I’d love to be entered into the drawing too please.

  • Lee says:

    My Matt is looking in to doing this – has been thinking about it, on and off, for over a year. We both do ‘good deeds’ type jobs, but I guess there’s always room for more and it’s a calling for him, and like you, he’ll be fantastic at it.

    Love to you, twinkle toes.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Oooh, I am intrigued by this line, so please enter me in the drawing! thank you.

  • loverdoll78264 says:

    These sound lvely. As for hospice . . . these folks are wonderful . The dedication and caring they provide is beautiful and so very needed, . My mothers team, when she passed were so beneficial to the process. . . . I think it must be a special person who can give so much to others. Makes me stop and think about whether I possess the sort of strength to join myself . . .G

    • Patty says:

      I don’t really think of it as special. Maybe just the ability to compartmentalize and be really good about self-care. Those who can’t do that do leave direct hospice care, they have to. I think I won’t really know where I fall until I try it.

  • Theresa says:

    Patty–it’s so wonderful that you’re doing volunteer work at all let alone something that could be so emotionally draining. Thanks also for sharing your personal story. Good luck with the volunteer work.

    • Patty says:

      I do have the time now. And I’ve wanted to do it forever, but kids and a really demanding career left me no time at all. So I’m pretty excited about it!

  • Cynthia L says:

    Patty, It is so interesting to follow the changing currents of your life. Thanks for sharing.
    I just lost my Mom (and best friend). I was told her death was “good”, because she basically dropped in her tracks and was gone. But I feel there is something to be said for having time to say “goodbye”. It sounds like you will be doing something really worthwhile.
    Blessings and such

    • Patty says:

      Imagine being me. 🙂 I did decide against the mountain ascent for practical reasons. After much discussion, research, frank assessment – some old injuries I have and my stunning fear of edges will probably keep me off of Denali. My lungs may or may not be robust enough to take that kind of altitude, but age becomes a serious factor if you haven’t conditioned over years to spend limited amounts of time at that sort of altitude.

      I am so sorry about your mom, Cynthia. I’m sending you a virtual hug.

      It’s hard to figure out which way to go is best. I think I really want that time to say goodbye, even if it’s a day or a couple of hours, but I don’t want the extended illness that usually comes with. Hospice does do a great job of keeping their patients comfortable, so I’m less freaked out about that now.

  • Connie says:

    Patty, you really are a special person.

    When I read this post, earlier today, my eyes welled up with tears. My wonderful father passed away 19 years ago. I can’t believe it has been so long since I have felt his hugs and kisses. He was adamant about not going to the hospital, even though we had to admit him a few times. He did get one of his wishes, though. He didn’t want a hospital bed at home either. When he finally acquiesced the hospital bed arrived … but only after he passed, later in the day.

    Though we did not use the services of a hospice, I am grateful and feel blessed my dad died surrounded by his children, my mother and an aunt. It was a long night, with many false alarms but we were there holding him and kissing him when he ascended to be with angels … and to watch over me. I feel him all the time.

    My best friend of 35 years (at the time) died 4 years ago at the age of 47. She was placed in hospice when her husband finally came out of denial. They were wonderful. They gave us literature to read and had such a gentle way about them. She spent the last 26 days of her life at a hospital and then in hospice (in another wing of same hospital). I was so lucky she ended up being placed in that hospital/hospice as it was only 4 blocks from my home. I spent her last 26 days with her from 8 or 9am until her husband came after work. He was wonderful and paid for a nurse to be there but I wanted her to have a familiar presence with her. Even though she was not conscious for the last 2 weeks I knew she felt me there. I helped her with her seizures, played CDs given to me by a friend who said they were specifically for the dying. They were beautiful. I was strong during the day because I had to be but at night when I’d get home I would collapse. It is so hard to see someone you love go but it is an honor to be there, in my view. I was there when she made her ascent to heaven/universe and even though all the family was there, I was the only one awake and by her to tell her it was OK to go.

    Special person, indeed, Patty.

    • Patty says:

      You have no idea how not a special person I am. 🙂 I’m not easy with being viewed that way because I am flawed so deeply on so many levels, and I have lived so selfishly for most of my life. I really fell like I was pulled in to do it, it didn’t come from some place inside of me.

      Isn’t it funny how time passes, and it will never seem that long in your head that you’ve had to live without someone you love so much. And I use that in the present tense because I actively still love my dad. That feeling never went to live in some old room for emotions I don’t need or use anymore. What a beautiful way for your dad to go.

      Speaking of special people, how completely wonderful of you to spend that time with your friend. How she must have loved you and you her. Sorry, you really teared me up with that. *hugs*

  • Divalano says:

    Patty … what an incredibly profound post. Sorry, but I couldn’t focus on the perfume bits, hope you don’t mind, I’ll focus on perfume again next time I’m here, I promise.
    I have the deepest respect for you’re desire and ability to show up for hospice work, and for the gift you left for so many to share here. Thank you.

  • Bev says:

    I am so impressed.
    I’m going to search out the Canadian equivalent of hospice training. It seems to me that many North American’s have a denial and fear-based attitude to death. We should be allowed to pass with dignity and acknowledgement….after all, it’s something we will all do.
    I also enjoyed your review of Cartier’s “Les Heures.” I used to wear “Le Must” back in the day. XII sounds particularly lovely;
    I do like my patch.
    However, no fragrance can equal human goodness and kindness.

  • tmp00 says:

    I think it’s wonderful that you’re doing this..

  • Tara C says:

    Wow, that’s a really interesting thing I hadn’t thought of myself volunteering at a hospice. I don’t think I could do it, as I have illness-phobias that would probably render me useless, but kol hakavod to you. I agree that death is a sacred transition and we should all have the opportunity to pass over in as much comfort and grace as possible. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when my parents are dying. Right now I fully accept that it will happen some day, and I feel ready for it, but who knows how I’ll feel when the time comes. I do believe we ultimately all die alone, and I do not feel afraid of dying alone at this point in my life, perhaps I will feel differently later. I fear pain and suffering more than being alone. The most I can hope for is the strength to get through whatever comes.

    No need to enter me in the drawing, I’ve already smelled the hours. #12 was my favorite, after I got past the indolic opening. I loved the opening of #13 but then the drydown wasn’t great on me. I don’t think I’ll be buying any at this point but I do appreciate the artistry involved in them.

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, I’m thinking the illness-phobias would be a deal-breaker, but if their mission speaks to you, there are a ton of other areas where people can volunteer.

      Like you, I do believe we all die alone at its essence. I also think we live alone too, no matter how many people touch our lives. Most people lose it staring into that void of aloneness that inherent to our nature. I’m okay with it. But having someone alongside you at that transition point to death seems incredibly important.

  • violetnoir says:

    Woo, Patty! I could spill out my guts to you about my experiences with the death of friends and loved ones, but I believe you captured it perfectly.

    Few people want to be there at the end of someone’s life, much less be a stranger volunteering to do so. God bless you for being there.

    Oh…and please enter me in the drawing.

    Hugs!

  • Pantera Lilly says:

    I’d like to be included in the drawing! Thanks.

  • grizzlesnort says:

    Stick with it; you are doing something holy, mundane, inconvenient, necessary. In the early nineties I did lots of powers of atty; guardianships, etc for folks going into hospice: AIDS before the new meds. My partner volunteered at a residential hospice for 10 years. There was awe and mystery, grief, pain and heart-breaking tenderness. But there was also a lot of hilarity–if you can imagine a 70-year old nun, who also happened to be 6 feet tall, shaking a wooden spoon at someone, saying “You just better be glad I work for God!!” then you’re at the starting point. May it bring much meaning and depth to you.

    • Patty says:

      I will. I don’t fool myself into thinking it’s easy or not without a ton of moments that I’d just as soon not have.

      They have a long-time volunteer here that’s been with TDH practically since it was started. With all that experience, she was visiting someone one day, and she offered to do a foot massage. The patient said, why, I can’t do that, I’m diabetic and had both feet amputated years ago. The volunteer fled the room in tears. While she was outside torturing herself for saying the wrong thing, the patient was in her room calling up all of her family and friends, laughing.

      I have heard there are a lot of great moments and unexpected ones. Apparently, dying is pretty much like living, you get some really crappy moments with some outstanding ones.

      Does your partner still do hospice work?

      • grizzlesnort says:

        He’s no longer doing hospice. We moved from Austin to Portland a few years back and he didn’t get back into it. And ten years is a long time!
        all the best.

  • mariekel says:

    That was quite moving — if difficult to think through. I am so terrified of losing my parents that every illness that comes their way brings a persistent knot of fear to my stomach.

    My mother is head of the Hospice auxiliary attached to my stepfather’s hospital in NY. Long ago, she worked in a sad little nursing home. I don’t know how she — and you– manage it.

    Perfumes are so evocative of times of life. When I smelled vintage Rive Gauche a few months ago, I was suddenly standing in Bloomigdales in NY, age 17, with my silvery-plum Borghese liptstick on trying hard to be so much more sophisticated than my suburban upbringing.

    Please do enter me in the drawing — I would love to try these.

    • Patty says:

      Bless your mom for doing that.

      You know, up until my dad died, I couldn’t even think of my parents dying without dissolving into tears. When you have to face the unthinkable, you do wind up living with it uneasily and it becomes an unwanted companion in your life that you will make peace with, but never because you want to.

  • Gretchen says:

    I’ve appreciated reading your thoughts and those of your commenters. I won’t add anything at this time, but do please put my name in the Cartier samples drawing.

  • onelittlesleep says:

    I became a Hospice volunteer when I was 17, in Maine, but the experience was so profoundly shaking to me, I stopped volunteering soon after, probably a year later. I think it was just too much for me at that age, especially since I ended up in a training group with the mother and father of two teens I knew who had died in a car accident the year before. I think they were there to channel their grief into something positive, into helping others, but they were both so deeply grieving their own losses, it was impossible for them to really be helpful. And they would just stare at me sometimes with these blank looks, like why is this CHILD here, reminding us of our kids, playing at being helpful?

    Anyway, I’m 29 now and am helping an older friend through her dying process. It’s been a balancing act of trying to be there for her as much as she needs me and keeping my own life afloat. Death is strange, because while it is profound and altering for the people involved, the world just keeps going on. I keep having to do the laundry, get my son to soccer practice, make dinner. We have hospice helping us, but they’re pretty useless and frustrating, medical technicians more than family support. I’ve been thinking off-handedly that I might want to volunteer again, and your post actually added a little to my consideration. So thank you! I love reading about scent, but I enjoy how you guys all add a little extra to your blog, give us a story or a little of yourselves. It makes for good reading and gets me thinking.

    • Patty says:

      Wow. I’m surprised they let you. I think it is so commendable that you wanted to do that so young.

      Our hospice has a lot of rules about age and how long it has been since you lost someone through death because they do get a lot of people volunteering where it is too fresh, and they are working out their own stuff, which is completely not helpful to the patient or their family or to the volunteer.

      IT is a surreal thing. The reality of continuing to live and supporting someone dying. This is what scares me about doing this, letting that bleed over into the joy I have for every bit of life. I think I’ll be fine, but who really knows until you get there?

      You know, hospice has lots of places for volunteers in fundraising, etc. So even if you’re not sure you can do direct care now or ever, there’s so many other things you can do that are just as valuable. I know if I find direct care to be too hard, I’ll just retract and find other ways to support what they are doing.

      • onelittlesleep says:

        Since living in CA and having direct interaction with Hospice, I’m coming to realize how much the program differs, depending on where it in. In CA, hospice does in-home nursing care, handles medical equipment and medicine, etc. In Maine, we just did counseling and family support, and weren’t allowed to handle medications or do any direct nursing. Which is probably why my mom’s friend, the lady who ran the local hospice training, let me train. So when I did have a client, my work was just spending the afternoon playing cards with an 80-year-old cancer patient, while his loved ones were able to get out and do chores and handle their lives. I think that kind of support is so much more helpful than the support we’re receiving out here. The hospice people we see daily are mostly technicians and they don’t even seem very comfortable in the dying room. They just seem very distracted with protocol. And they seldom speak with Georgia, my friend, though she is perfectly lucid and capable of understanding them.

        SIGH.

        Anyway, I commend you for wanting to give your time to helping people. I think I failed to be very coherent about how I feel about dying in the first comment…I just think that it’s as amazing and awe-inspiring as birth, and I watch my friend die and see her struggle with how big it is and how much she wishes to just share the feelings she has and experiences, because they’re so profound and changing. But no matter how much we support, people die on their own, they go through that, inside their bodies, on their own. So our lives go on, with all our daily rituals and chores, while they go through this amazing experience. It’s just such a strange thing, and it makes me sad that dying is so often relegated to institutional spaces, because it should be treated like something profound and moving. I think being a hospice volunteer would enrich a person’s life, would only make the daily things they love and celebrate all the more beautiful.

        Ahaha, sorry. I got all serious! I think you’re lovely! I wish you luck with your work.

        • Patty says:

          Denver Hospice does both. I think it may depend on the state and may depend on the mission. All hospices are set up differently. TDH does both medical care through nurses/cnas and work with the patient and family with social workers and chaplains. The volunteers are the respite care, which is a huge piece of TDH. But they make the assessment of need first because what families need and what is appropriate varies wildly.

          They spent a lot of time with us on interaction – to be sure we realize we are there for the patient, not the family, though what we do helps them. To always realize that even if the patient is quite ill and seems to be out of it, that hearing is the last to go and to always keep talking to them.

          I think it would be weird. Much like a new parent or someone in love, unless you are in that place with them emotionally, it is impossible to really get what they are feeling and keep on cleaning toilets. We refer to it as the sacred space. Doesn’t matter if someone is religious or not – that time in preparing to die, for those that get notice – is profound, and all we can do is respect it.

  • Nina Z. says:

    I actually found it beautiful that you related a collection of perfume (such a transient thing) called The Hours with your thoughts about mortality and dying. And while I admire what you’re now doing, I also want to say that it’s probably impossible to feel like you did a good job of helping someone you love to die. My mother died in hospice care at home almost two years ago, with help from both my brother and me, and while I have no regrets about making the choice to do that, I am still haunted by various difficult decisions and compromises we had to make. I hope your work brings you peace.

    • Patty says:

      No, I don’t think anyone ever feels great about it or completely at peace – maybe they do? – but I think there’s a peace in letting someone go out without tubes and CPR and extreme measures and letting them make little choices when they wind up having so few.

  • Disteza says:

    I applaud your choice both to be a hospice volunteer, and to write about here. I fervently hope, though, that the training covers all the bases: my grandmother chose to die at home with, my mother (an Army-trained RN) and a hospice worker to look after her. Unfortunately her death was neither quick nor easy; I ended up having to shepherd my little brother outside the house for 2 hours because it was so bad, and helping with the clean up afterwards was, if I’m lucky, the most nauseating thing I’ll ever have to do.

    That aside, I agre that the single most important thing that a person can do is to plan for their own end, lest it be left to family memebers to quarrel over, or CPR teams to wrest from you.

    • Patty says:

      All hospices are not created equal. The one I’m volunteering for is excellent, as is their training. The material they give to the families to prepare them for what to expect physically, emotionally is voluminous. They give it to all employees and volunteers as well so they know what to expect. Most volunteers, unless they go through the 11th hour training, don’t attend deaths, unless it just happens while they are there reading and sitting with the patient. Our hospice does a lot of work with restless patients who can’t settle. Sometimes you can’t help at all, you just have to be there and get through it.

      End of life has some pretty weird things going on, restlessness. It’s not always pretty and peaceful, and sometimes it can take a long time, and it is hard on families, no matter how much they want to be there and do it. Sometimes it can be impossible and the person has to go into a care facility, and families should never feel guilty about doing what they have to.

  • Neens says:

    Patty, my Mom died without me getting a chance to even say goodbye. She was in a hospital in NYC and I was in Chicago,. I was supposed to come and help her after she got out. ( My brother lived in NY). The day before she was supposed to come home she had a heart attack and died and I felt guilty for years ( and still do sometime) thinking I should have been there. You are right, treasure the time.

    Also, pleaseenter me in the drawing. Thanks

    • Patty says:

      Oh, I am so sorry. Even though you know you have no reason to feel guilty, you fight it. I think it’s more regret that you wish it had been different so you could have said goodbye.

  • Anita says:

    I believe that thinking about something in our lives that moved us tremendously opens us up emotionally in a general way, to everything. I think this is certainly the case here. Thinking about your father and hospices caused you to write in a way that conveyed such tremendous emotion with such impact and precision! This even flowed over to your writing about Les Heures. I loved the image of patchouli making the other notes seem fuller and richer because they were infused with life. I remember now that when you wrote about Muguet Blanc by VCA the same thing happened, and the image of that tree made me shiver. I wanted to write and thank you then and I am sorry that I did not, so please let me do it now…..Thank you, Patty.

    • Patty says:

      Absolutely. When you open up your heart and share the joys and hurts, it makes connections with other things in ways you’re sometimes aware of and sometimes not.

      Hey, you’re welcome.

  • Christine L. says:

    You jerk, why did you have to go and write something so beautiful? I can’t believe it but I think I might prefer some Botalk to this……I’m going upstairs to cry in my shower.
    Please enter me in the drawing.
    (And of course you must know that any and all name calling is done completely tongue-in-cheek!);)

    • Patty says:

      I’ll cheer you up later with some Lipo-talk next week. 🙂 Then you can contemplate how such a shallow, vain person can co-exist peacefully with this one in the same body. I wonder the same thing too. 🙂 If it were for all the shallows, I always say, how would I ever find any depth?

      Sorry about making you cry. If it helps, I did quite a bit of crying just writing that about my dad dying alone. It touches a well of sadness that no time will heal because we can’t undo it. All we can do is be crystal about our own wishes and then threaten (as I shamelessly did) your children with hauntings and all if they shove me in a nursing home to die.

  • Cheryl says:

    This posting brought out many tears. This maybe is a good time of year for it, autumnal, the change of season, the leaves falling from the trees. I understand many cultures celebrate this by lighting candles through the night at this time of year to welcome the spirits of their dead family and friends and visit with them and remember and honour them.

    Thank you if I’m in the draw, mostly I just wanted to comment on how moving everyone’s comments are.

    • Patty says:

      Dia des la Muertos (I probably botched the spelling) is my favorite days. That whole All Souls, All Saints and dAy of the Dead time at the end of October is pretty moving.

      We’re doing 11th Hour Training on Halloween.

  • Tiara says:

    I believe only special people feel drawn to Hospice work so you obviously are one of the chosen. Glad you’ve decided to pursue this path since you are feeling the call and I wish you well. Perhaps your love of scents will be your “gift” to those who may find it as comforting as music.

    My father died in September in the hospital but under the direction of Hospice. We all had a chance to say goodbye and it was on my shift when he passed. I have taken great comfort in that these past weeks but still miss him dearly. We are ever so grateful for the staff who was with us those during those few days.

    Not only did that experience cement my thinking of always making my last wishes known (which my parents had done with a living will) but also my funeral arrangements. That includes music and readings. Making selections was difficult as we weighed what Dad would have wanted and what would comfort us. That convinced me to make those decisions myself to ease the burden on my husband and sons.

    I love the idea of writing a letter and think that’s something I need to consider.

    And yes, please enter me in the drawing. These sound gorgeous.

    • Patty says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your dad. Time eases the loss, but it truly does change you forever.

      Not so sure that I’ve been chosen as much as some meddling old fart of a dad is maneuvering. He’s done a lot of that since he died, which we all figure out when we compare notes. He left all these things through his life, things he’d say to us individually, that wound up eventually pushing us all in directions, after his death, that surprised us.

      Yeah, making choices ahead of time so people know what you want is really helpful. I don’t want my family making ridiculous sentimental choices when what I really want is them to play Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. They will be allowed one run-through of Amazing Grace, but that’s as sad as the music can get and just briefly.

      I need to write that down, yes!

  • MichelleH says:

    Lovely post. I really respect what you are doing and know that it can be hard to open up at times, but look at all the love and support on here, its wonderfull! I think the perfumes tie in wonderfully to what you wrote. The hours of your life…Thank you for sharing.
    enter me in the draw please

  • Patty, this is such a lovely post. Thank you. My stepmother died 2 weeks ago, as you all probably know by now, suddenly and completely unexpectedly. My sister slept over at the house the night before, next to her bedside, and I think that was the single greatest gift E has ever been given, the opportunity to spend that quiet time with her mom one last time. She died, peacefully, the next afternoon, with my father and her nurse in attendance.

    My father’s being here is stressful – but it is also a gift. We have had a very complicated relationship, like so many parent/child relationships, and spending this time with him is giving me the opportunity to see him as a person, rather than my “Hanging Up” type father. I consider this time both a ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ and if I open my heart and my psyche it will be a good time for all.

    On scent memory, I couldn’t agree more. Yesterday we were driving and chatting about our old neighborhood and, unbidden, the smell of my girl-crush neighbor’s house came roaring back. I was a totally geeky 14yr old and she was incredibly fabulous 18 and Breck Girl as could be. Her mom was Boca Raton just waiting to happen and their whole house smelled like hairspray. So exotic. I was rarely in their house but when I was it was like being in Heaven’s Beauty Salon!o:-)

    For a split second I was 14 again. And hairspray was my friend!

    Thanks again for such beautiful writing. And those you touch will be forever enriched.

    xo >-)

    ps. agree on the Medical and Durable POA. Also, folks: get your stuff in order. Death is sort of unpredictable but it is inevitable (at least I think it is). I got lucky with my stepsibs, who are the greatest people on earth. We sorted out their mom’s/my pop’s stuff as a family, with no one trying to ‘get over’ on anyone else – but it could’ve easily gotten ugly, quick. So take care of your survivors by taking care of your business.

    • Patty says:

      I think for most people, that’s what they want. As hard as it is to watch someone die, just being there, especially a parent, while they take their last breath, the person that was there when you took your first breathe, means everything.

      I do think you have a blessing having your dad living with you, and it is a huge blessing for him having you. At least he can’t hang up on you now. 🙂 It took me years to reach an easy peace with my dad. Always loved him, didn’t understand him. Some of the questions I’d ask him, he gave me the wrong answer, and I had to live with those answers. Eventually, I knew they were the right answers, I just didn’t have the wisdom to see it.

      LIving life with your heart wide open is hard. That’s what I’m trying to do, but you have to work constantly to stop closing up, breathing through the places that are so uncomfortable where you just want to hide. But it’s better. I never want react to life’s pain by shutting life out. I want to open up more. We get that choice, which is really a cool thing.

      Embracing it all – the good and the bad – is pretty powerful medicine for the soul.

  • Aimee N says:

    Hi Patty,

    Thank you for the contemplative post, I know it is a sensitive subject for some but one that I feel needs to be discussed more often!

    Please enter me in the draw.

  • Janet in CA says:

    Lovely post Patty. My dad died 25 years ago and I still see him out of the corner of my eye or smell something that will vividly bring him back to me. I am always glad when this happens! I wish my kids had gotten to know him.

    You will be a wonderful hospice worker.

    Drawing please.

  • kathleen says:

    Hospice volunteers are our angels. Actually, this post did make me uncomfortable. Only because it made me look into a place where we all end up, sooner or later. I like to delude myself that I, and everyone I love, are immortal. But, then you hear that a younger relative has 2 weeks to live, and, well, you know..

    Please enter me in the drawing, Patty.

    • Patty says:

      I know, and sorry. But the one thing I’m finding – looking in that place makes me look around me with a new wonder and appreciation for how temporary this all is and how much more I need to appreciate and connect for the people that are traveling along with me on this short trip.

  • aubrey says:

    Wow. What a stunning post, and a very helpful review of the two Cartiers—some of the reviews on other sites haven’t given me as clear of an impression of the perfumes, for this series. This year, I’ve done too much thinking about death. My sister is not well, and death seems to be the elephant in the room (and though we do not talk about it, I simply can’t stop myself from staring at it). Perfume has been one of my escapes from morbid thoughts. It’s been a heavy year, and I’ve found myself loving light, airy and happy perfumes, though sometimes, the comfort of a dark and warm perfume is excellent, too. I avoid the perfumes that people describe as ‘funereal’ (Apres L’Ondee comes to mind). Is the 12th Hour funereal? Is it sad?
    And blessings to you for volunteering at Hospice. My grandfather died at home with us, with their support. On the morning that he would die, when his breathe changed, the Hospice caregiver told my grandmother that it was coming. My grandmother held his hand and told him their life story. He took his last breath as she finished the story, arriving at that moment. It sounds like a sentimental wisetale, but it’s true, and it’s how it happened. I think he was able to let go at the house in a way he wouldn’t have at the hospital. And the hospice really helped us let go, too. It’s only natural when someone you love is dying, to want them to fight and hang on. Hospice helped us let him go.

    • Patty says:

      I think the Cartiers are tough to review. They strike me as having a very artistic view, so you’re pulling from what they smell like to interpreting what you get from them. Some things are easier, but you don’t what to give shortshrift to the artistic side by purely talking about how they smell. Maybe I shouldn’t, but i tend to respect the perfumer’s vision of what they were doing when they created. Sometimes it’s just to make something that smells good, and that’s great too!

      Im sorry about your sister. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to talk about the unimaginable. Sometime if you can voice what you can’t even think of, it takes away some of the dark power.

      That is a beautiful store about your grandfather. So many people are waiting at the end for something — a person to arrive, for someone to tell them it’s okay to go, something. Forgiveness, to forgive.

      • Patty says:

        Oh, I didn’t answer, is it funereal, the XII? No. It is contemplative, but the spices warm it up, and the patch gives it something more so it doesn’t seem wispy or unsubstantial. I think of Apres L’Ondee of living mostly in the next world, that’s why it seems funereal to me. NOt because it is dead or anything, but just that it is transient and transparent, and I can’t hang onto it.

  • EileenS says:

    Many blessings to you, Patty, for doing this. My grandmother was able to go peacefully (from cancer) and at home due both to the brief training we the family were given and to the volunteers who helped us along the way. We were all in the house when she died at some wee hour of the morning, with someone at her bedside. I couldn’t ask for a better passing. I only hope that we can do as well for whoever is next.

    On more mundane topics, the Cartier series has fascinated me — will they all be good, or even interesting? XIII has the most promising notes so far, but one can’t judge until actually smelling. At least it gives me something to wonder about when work is dull.

    • Patty says:

      I’m so happy your grandmother and her family got that. Death is hard work, and it is really beautiful when it can be done as the person wished.

      You know, I think both. They are good and they are interesting. I don’t think anyone will love or need them all, but I’m enjoying each one as I discover it. They are so different, but the them of the Hours ties them together. But people can interpret that how they wish. Hours of the day, hours of your life? Seasons, phases, emotions? I just like that they figured out their main focus, but then left us all room to smell and figure it out. It’s like art.

  • london says:

    Thank you for that post. I feel like this is a turning point for me. This is the first year I have attended more funerals than weddings and deaths and births are about neck and neck. I need to start making sure that I ask all those questions and really listen to all those stories before it’s too late and, more importantly, give back to those I love while they are still there to give to. And I would love to be entered in the draw to find a new love to share with them (not that most of them are interested!).

    • Patty says:

      You are very welcome. Don’t you just hate it when your events start turning like that? I haven’t been to a wedding in a really long time. The funerals are piling up.

  • zeezee says:

    Beautiful post. I’ve worked in elderly care for a time, and have sat hospice shifts/wakes as well. They were both my favourite shifts and my most difficult ones: I’d always be glad to have ample time for one patient, really get to know them end their preferences and generally be the oil on the cogs for those important last moments between patient and family – on the other hand, well… it’s still death. In the end I quit it because I couldn’t balance it out emotionally any longer and could not be the comfort/strength I had to be. I admire anyone who volunteers at a hospice, though you really do need to be able to let off steam and acknowledge your own feelings once in a while to keep it up.

    Seems so banal to mention perfume now – but I’d love to be entered in the draw. :”>

    • Patty says:

      Bless you for doing it. I’m not sure that many people can do it for long periods of time, and I know lots of people that take breaks or they move out of direct care so they can still help, but emotionally they just can’t keep doing direct care anymore.

      I’m not sure how I’ll get the balance. I have a pretty good psychologicaly makeup for compartmentalization, but I don’t think you really know until you do it jsut how long you’ll be able to do it. Denver Hospice encourages everyone to us the social workers and chaplains on staff as needed to talk to about what’s going on with them. I know the Care Center does a weekly memorial service for all the patients that died that week. I think people can try and maintain a barrier to some degree, but all of that grief and loss of others and the attachment you get to people will get through. We are just not emotionally impermeable.

  • Fernando says:

    Hi, Patty. Thanks for writing about this. Hospice can be a haven in tough times, a replacement for the extended families we all used to have. Thanks for doing it!

    And, of course, please enter me in the draw. These Hours certainly sound interesting.

    • Patty says:

      Absolutely, Fernando.

      the Hours are interesting! I deliberately am only smelling the ones I’m reviewing, so it gives me a chance to unfurl them. I used to rush into big collections and just smell them all in one day, then try and sort them out.

  • Sue says:

    Bless you, Patty. My grandmother is dying and the hospice workers who give my family respite during this strange, spiraling process are angels. *HUGS*

    • Patty says:

      I am so glad you have them. I cannot imagine what it is like for family members, sometimes just one or two of them, who are doing round-the-clock care, and just being able to get out for a few hours and feel anything approaching normal again has to be a relief. I’m amazed by the nurses, cnas, chaplains and social workers in hospice. They work with so many varied families and family systems and beliefs and wishes and seem to help them all somehow.

      *HUGS* back to you and your family.

  • karin says:

    Wow. Patty, what a wonderful thing to do. Inspires me to get out there and do something, anything, as a volunteer. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Patty says:

      Volunteering is a great thing, no matter where you do it. And the cliche is absolutely true — you will always get back more than you ever give.

  • Melissa says:

    Beautiful post Patty. We lost a family member a little over a year ago. He was quite ill, although his doctors did not expect him to die. But he did, very suddenly, and I was overwhelmed by sadness and guilt over the fact that he died alone. These feelings have gradually subsided, but grief is such a long and complex process.

    I agree completely with Shelley who commented on the poignancy of the connection between the a post about hospice and The Hours. I would love to be entered in the drawing.

    • Patty says:

      I’m sorry, Melissa, it is a hard thing to get beyond, and it takes a long time. I don’t think we ever really get beyond grief. It lessens in sharpness so we can breathe. I know my dad’s grief wore him out. He came from a big family, and 10 of his 12 brothers and sisters died before him, and all of his closest friends and you could see the accumulated loss in him.

      What’s the Dylan song? Just when you think you’ve lost everything, you find out you can lose a little bit more. That always reminds me of him.

      Hospice and The Hours went together in my head. I don’t think I could have written about hospice without the relation in my mind to this perfume collection.

  • loledinburgh5 says:

    Hello,
    I am very shy so even if I read the blog everyday ,I’m always holding back and not posting but this post really it’s moving and I wanted to say thank you very much.You know, I am a firm believer in the KINDNESS OF STRANGERS ,for me that shows the divinity in all of us and makes me believe this is a life that is worth living if only because you get this wonderful glimpses of “GOOD” in capital letters.
    So thank you again and please enter me in the draw.
    Lorena.

    • Patty says:

      Welcome, Lorena, and so glad you commented. I believe, like you do, that it is in doing something for someone you don’t know that you really see what life means. That you wind up getting so much back never occurred to me.

  • Rappleyea says:

    A very beautiful post Patty. I teach Healing Therapy (an umbrella of various energy medicine modalities) at our local Catholic Health Initiatives hospital – actually I think their headquarters are in Colorado. It was one of their grief counselors who got me into it, and there are several wonderful techniques used to ease the transition. I am passionate about Hospice and about educating people about what should/could be a very beautiful and wonderful experience. We in the West have attached such darkness to the process and have a very unhealthy avoidance of the issue. Congratulations to you for your work and yes, for writing about it in association with perfume.

    Please feel free to email if you would like more information.

    Oh yes, I’d love to be entered in the draw – I’m a huge fan of Ms. Laurent.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, bless you for your work. We heard some about that and its use with the dying. I know we have a lot of people in hospice that do Reiki and different types of touch therapy. I’d love to be in touch with you about it. Can you click the contact us to e-mail me? I’m thinking down the line, I may want to explore some of the touch and music therapies too, but I’m waiting just to see where this branch of the river takes me for now.

  • Ines says:

    Let’s hope then this comment brings me closer to Cartier samples. 🙂

  • Liza says:

    My grandfather passed away in 1998 and the last time I saw him alive, he was hooked up to a machine with tubes everywhere and he couldn’t speak. We were never close as we didn’t live in the same city/town. My grandmother (on the other side of my family) passed away the following year in 1999. We were never close either, same reason as with my grandfather, and she only spoke Iban while I speak English mainly. Anyway, I was very moved by what you wrote about writing a letter.

    When I was about 10 years old, a neighbour was diagnosed with cancer and was told she had weeks, months at the most, to live. We got a call, and my mother said our neighbour wanted to say goodbye to everybody while she still could. I remember she was so beautiful and only in her 30’s with a daughter who was younger than me. I peeked inside and saw the adults sitting around her. I don’t remember if I waved at her or said anything, but I remember she was wearing a scarf and I heard her say she wanted to apologise if she had done anything to hurt anyone.

    I sat with her daughter on the patio, don’t remember saying anything but do remember that she wasn’t crying.

    Not long after, we heard that she had passed away.

    I hope I would be so lucky as to have enough notice before I die, to have enough time to say what I need to say to the people I love.

    • Patty says:

      You know, when I hit publish on this post, I really didn’t know how y’all would react. I was pretty much expecting uncomfortable silence. But we all have loss and sometimes regrets or memories that come with that, and in our society, it’s just not okay to talk about it and to get a little teary, or a lot.

      I’m a little torn about how I want to go out. My mom wants to go out in a second so she doesn’t know. I’m much more okay about having an illness that doesn’t go on too long so I can say my goodbyes and just wrap things up, but I don’t really want the illness part of it. Knowing about hospice and pain management gives me a level of comfort that you can go out with little pain if you can make people stop trying to fix what can’t be fixed.

      I can’t imagine losing a parent as a young child. They have a children’s grief center at hospice, and they do some amazing work with those kids. None of it is easy, but they find that children, given time and space, find their peace in unusual and beautiful ways.

  • Erin T says:

    Thank you Patty – simply a wonderful, very touching post. I personally have an obsession with *after* I die. I’ve read Mary Roach’s “Stiff” and Jessica Mitford’s “The American Way of Death Revisited” and I’m always ranting to my family about my send-out. “NO EMBALMING!” “I don’t want a vault, and don’t you dare burn me up in anything varnished!” etc. etc. You’ve given me an important reminder that there are more uncomfortable and personal things to talk about.

    Please enter me in the draw, too. Thanks, you generous, lovely lady!

    • Patty says:

      I completely relate. I used to be obsessed about what happened to my body after. I think it’s a way of approaching the subject without having to look right at it, you get to see it from a sideways angle. Once I got to some better place in accepting that I will eventually lose everything, including control – not like I really have it, just the illusion that I do – I really don’t care about what they do with me after.

      I’m actually okay with them doing whatever makes them feel okay – burial, cremation, doesn’t matter. I am so outta there. I used to be adamant about cremation, but we have this big family plot in Kansas that’s from the middle to the fence in rows of my big, nutty family, and I think I want to join them all there eventually.

  • Karen says:

    It takes a very special person to be a hospice worker – thanks for being one of them.

    Please enter me in the draw. Thank you.

  • Louise says:

    Patty, thank you for sharing both your generous mitzvot, and the myriad emotions surrounding the loss of your dad. Thank you.

    I am approaching the four-year anniversary of my father’s death, and as several here have stated, it is the hospice folks who came to his home that helped ease his death. He was ready; we were not. But the kids had the time to be together and rejoice in his life and gifts (damn, glad I did waterproof eyeliner today..) while knowing that he was not in pain. We could focus during the long week of his dying on holding him, laughing with him when he was awake, even getting away for a bit. The hospice team were open-hearted, professional, and very warm. Praise be to all who can comfort at this time.

    I have several “hours” coming to me from my favorite online sample vendor just now @};-

    • Louise says:

      oh, on scent and memory…my dad always smelled of cinnamon-but never wore fragrance. It was just his warm personal smell. After he died, I took a hoodie of his home with me, and could smell him for many weeks. And even now, as I grieve for him, the scent will waft by for a brief visit.

      • Patty says:

        That’s really beautiful. My dad’s truck still smells like him. We’ve kept it in the family the last 13 years, nobody can bring themselves to get rid of it because it still smells like him.

    • Patty says:

      You never really get over someone you love so much not being here, that’s just how it is. It changes you forever. But having a peaceful time at the end to say goodbyes and just be there, no matter how much you want it to end differently, is a blessing. No one but the dying is ready. I keep trying to think of it that they just are taking an earlier train, but we all will board that same train eventually.

      Nobody asked me what I smelled! Hay. It is the single smell that I remember my life by. I have others that float around it – lillies, iris, incense, peaches and woods – but that’s the main note in my life’s bouquet.

  • Ann C says:

    Patty, wonderful post. My father died at home alone, not long after my mother died. He died unexpectedly, but I still feel sad when I think about it and wish it could have been different. Hospice performs an amazing and necessary service. I’m glad you have the courage and emotional fortitude to undertake the training.

    Please enter my name in the drawing.

    Thanks!

    • Patty says:

      I know, Ann. I don’t think I have any of those things at all. I’m nhot a great person or particularly selfless or anything. Srsly. I just feel like I need to do something, and this is the thing that speaks to me, even though I can’t figure out why. I have no affinity for death and dying. 🙂 I think it’s because I do have a passion about the dignity of the human person from the very beginning to the end. Helping people go out with grace and dignity speaks to me on some really deep level. I may not be any good at it, though. I chatter like a magpie when I get nervous, and I suspect some poor patient or more than a few will politely ask me to please stop chattering more than once.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Patty, thank you so much for telling us about your new venture, if I may call it that. My mother died 36 years ago and I don’t believe that any such place existed in the UK then. My father died 21 years ago but that was not from a prolonged illness. I wish you the very best and admire you so much. Honestly, I couldn’t do it in a million years.

    Looking forward to trying the Cartiers one of these days – thanks!

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, it’s a new venture! The hospice movement started in England and Ireland, you know. At least the modern one. But it really has gotten some traction in the last 20 years.

      Have the Cartiers not shown up in London yet? I think you’ll find at least one or two that you’ll like if not love.

  • Alica says:

    Hi, I am applying for the drawing of the samples, thaks!!!

  • hongkongmom says:

    Hospice and scent…sits perfectly with me Patty…Well done
    Death is a sure a thing in this world as is G-d and life…if we are resolved and at peace with ourselves and those we love, then final moments of life can be peaceful too…part of that is resolving conflicts and as Patty is doing, care work for people who need it, charity/charity work as well as just always having faith and being positive minded..i really believe that u will find this really fulfilling Patty. Here in Hong KOng, we live in a kind of false expatriate society…there are no old people…so i am trying to find an old aged home/nursing home so that I can try to organize after school activities for the youner kids to spend time with the aged…the young and the old together are a great mix…but it is a battle to find..
    As we say Kol Hakavod (all the honour…well done) to you Patty
    ……….and yeahhhh on a lighter note…PLEASE enter me in this very enticing draw

    • Patty says:

      I’m absolutely certain I’ll find this fulfilling. I know I have to be careful about self-care because hospice work can completely drain you if you aren’t careful about your time and boundaries.

      So wait, are you saying there aren’t old people, or you just don’t see them? I thought that in Paris, I didn’t see many old people. I couldn’t figure out if they were just locked in their apartments or went somewhere else?

      At least in the U.S., our aging are out there in full flying glory – wheelchairs, walkers and all – I see them everywhere and curse them on the roads for driving 5 miles an hour (I did stop doing that and now really enjoy being behind them, they make me take deep breaths and relax).

      • hongkongmom says:

        yeh it can…but it’s OK to be drained, especially after giving of urself so entirely…and then it’s ok to do whatever u need to do in order to get back strength…just be kind to yourself!

        OOps i think i need to explain about the old people. There are two areas…the local hong kong do have aged but hong kong is very unfriendly to kids and elderly…the streets are hilly and uneven loads of stairs everywhere adn it is very difficult to move around with a stroller or for handicapped people. Also the locals tend to hide their flaws and keep mentally handicapped away from society. You do see old people and they generally have to have a philipino helper to asist them to move around, but i cannot locate any homes..to volunteer time!!!
        The expatriate community are generally families that come out to Hong Kong from all over ther world for a perod of time…a couple of years…but now it seems that some are staying for longer…so our kids don’t grow up with their grandparents and there contact with old people is almost non existant. Friends become family!!

  • Datura5750 says:

    Thanks for this post, my octogenarian parents have moved to be near me, and due to health issues I have been thinking about this subject a great deal.
    Take care of yourself as well!
    Would love to try these new scents!
    BTW dad likes Chanel Cuir de Russe & mom YSL Paris…

    • Patty says:

      It’s good to plan ahead and talk about it, even though nobody wants to, and you hope it’s decades before you have to really do anything. I made my kids sit down and talk to me about this after that. WE didn’t go in-depth, but I told them explicitly what I want. Much as I hate to think about it, I want them to tell me what they would want if the situation would be reversed.

      Your mom and dad have excelllent perfume taste, it must be in all of y’all’s genes

  • Laura M says:

    Please enter me. I am NOT past fruits, even though I am at the age where I need to think about parents going.

    I would much rather read about hospice than undergoing anti-aging treatments! But it is your blog: you can write whatever you like.

    You are a good woman to pursue this as a volunteer. I was the last person to see my great aunt alive (several years ago now, but she was almost 99!), it turned out, and it made me so sad to know that she died alone in the middle of the night. My cat died around the same time, and I spent a night lying on the floor under my desk with him, so I could be near him during what turned out to be his last night at home. It bothered me quite a bit that my cat got company (well, he died when I said no by phone in the middle of the night to kitty CPR; but I like to think the technicians were with him), but she did not.

    Thanks.

    • Patty says:

      I figure we will eventually make everyone happy or unhappy about what we write about. 🙂

      I totally agree. If we as a society can prevent people from dying alone, we should. You don’t need to even know the person, it’s having a person there to just sit with you, hold your hand, play music, if you want, just to be there to witness the ending. Otherwise it feels like everyone left the play before the final curtain call and you are bowing to an empty theater. It shouldn’t be like that.

      So, yeah, it’s hard, but that time is sacred and grace-filled, and it’s an honor to be the person to witness that ending.

  • DinaC says:

    Bless you, Patty, for becoming a Hospice volunteer. My dad passed away from cancer more than 17 years ago, at home, under hospice care. It was an amazing time in our lives, and we always sing the praises of hospice.

    The scents sound interesting. (I always say “interesting” when I can’t think of anything else to say!) I’m past my fruit/mad hour years, but have a daughter who would probably love it. The mysterious hour sounds more my speed, as long as the patch isn’t too strong. 🙂

    • Patty says:

      I am always surprised by how many people’s lives and deaths have been touched by hospice when it hasn’t been around that long, like 30 years.

      They ARE interesting. I love the concept of the Hours that they are using, and maybe I’m reading too much into it as being the hours and phases of your life, but so far that’s the way I’m interpreting it. 🙂

      The Mad Hours thing I liked much more than I thought I would. The first hour or so was interesting, but that drydown is really stunning, that’s the lazy aftermath of a crazy time where you remember the wildness but get to put it behind you.

      Patch in XII is not that strong. It is at the beginning, so be patient. It will blow off in a while when the incense and juniper come blazing out. I really didn’t have a sense of it as a distinct thing, but it’s so great at searing the edges of other notes so you can really feel them. It’s used beautifully in this.

  • Roberto C says:

    My father died while taking care of my grandpa, he had a heart attack, my grandpa was really old but my dad refused to take him to a nursing home, my grandpa thought my father was sleeping so he covered him with a blanket, next day we had that horrible news, then my granpa had to go to a nursing home where he died at age 102, I missed my father very much, it was 5 years ago but it feels so vivid that I think it was just yesterday.
    And going back to what we love to read and write about, please enter me in the draw. Thank you for sharing your comments about hospice and God bless you.
    Roberto.

    • Patty says:

      Isn’t it strange how time slows down after you lose important people. Every time I think that I’ve lived 13 years without my dad, it surprises me. It does seem like it was just a year or two ago. But I talk to him all the time, so he never really feels that gone to me. Just not arguing with me in the normal way he used to, he’s finding all sorts of ninja fighting to get me to do things he wants me to do.

  • Shelley says:

    Have watched all four grandparents exit this world, at home or not, with help from hospice or not. Four very different experiences. Hospice made all the difference, and I can’t recommend it strongly enough for helping both the person exiting and all the family helping/watching. Knew right away you were very much in it when you referred to “active dying.”

    There’s a poignancy to combining a post about hospice and a perfume series called The Hours, no?

    From sacred to mundane…I’ve got to say, I’m all over those Laurent “Hours.” You bring my attention to midnight, but I have to admit, it was the thirteenth hour that held my focus until you posted. Will certainly be looking for an opportunity to experience any and all.

    • Patty says:

      Agree on hospice, the level of commitment they have was inspiring to me. The way they listen to the patient, never push an agenda, even the chaplains, just are there and wanting to help people set their lives at rest in every way and help them exist with dignity and peace is grace-filled to see.

      Nothing is an accident. I did in my head tie the two together. 🙂 I’m loving the hours just in their construction. Not always perfums I’m personally in love with and want to wear, though some fall in that category, but they really fit the hour they were made for, which is seriously cool work.

  • hyenas says:

    A perfume blog is almost the last place I expected to encounter such a treatise on hospice care. My grandmother is currently in care while I am thousands of miles away and my mother is ailing as well. I just hope that my grandmother has someone beside her when the time comes, and I hope. Well. I hope.

    Thanks.

    • hongkongmom says:

      hi..i think perfume people are sensitive/caring people and i love that hospice care is on a perfume blog..

    • Patty says:

      Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing? Is your grandmother in hospice? If she is, there will be someone there. The commitment of hospice to having volunteers to be there for anyone who doesn’t have someone at the end is breath-taking.

      Hospice also has palliative care, too. That’s for people who do have an illness that will eventually be terminal, but it’s not imminent, less than six months.

      I do hesitate to write things sometimes because I do know this is a perfume blog, but we all have these lives we are living alongside our obsessions, and the emotion, memory and sensitivity to smell bleeds over into all of my life the more in tune I get with that sense. It’s a very strange journey some days.

      • hyenas says:

        Oh no! It’s totally a good thing! I love it when blogs blend with personal lives. It makes it all so much more interesting. 🙂

  • carter says:

    Oh, Patty, good for you. I am so moved by your decision and your story about your father, and I want to tell you that the single best decision my family made during my mother’s final days was to take her out of the hospital and place her in a hospice setting.

    It was not care at home, but it was a beautiful, peaceful place where an amazingly compassionate staff did everything in their power to surround the individuals in their care with as much comfort and kindness as possible. They were truly a breed apart. One of the volunteers actually made a trip to the local mall to purchase a CD of Gregorian chants because she had heard a conversation between my siblings and myself about my mother’s love for that particular type of music.

    I will never forget them as long as I live, and there are no words to express how much it meant to all of us to know that we had done the best thing for our mother in her final days and that she passed away free of pain and surrounded by her loved ones. You are doing a wonderful, invaluable thing, Patty. I am so proud of you, and grateful on behalf of those who will need you so much.

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, I heard those stories about what volunteers and staff do, they go and check out books, finds music, hunt down whatever they can that a patient might want, if it’s within their power to find.

      They also brought in a thanatologist. I had no idea I was going to need one of those when I die, but now I’m absolutely certain I do. This woman played harp, and I don’t really even like harp that much, but the way she played was so ethereal, it was like a bridge to the other side. It was pretty amazing. I had no idea it was a study that people took on and deliberately write music geared for the dying.

      I am so glad your mom was able to go out so gently. I’m going to start out in the Care Center, which is a hospice facility with like 22 beds. I just want that little bit of supervision to start.

      But thanks, I think I’ll get so much more out of it than I’ll ever give.

      • carter says:

        That thing about the thanatologist (I type that as if I knew what it was prior to your comment, which I absolutely did not) is amazing. In my mother’s case, the sound of those monks chanting echoed throughout the place in her final days.

        My mother was a devout Catholic, and her priest was a man who flew every Sunday from Long Island to Florida to say mass in Latin at the tiny chapel where she worshiped. He would perform the service and then immediately travel to another parish, and then another, until at the end of the day he flew home to NY. Anyway, when she was dying she asked for Father Collins to be there to give her the last rites, and we arranged for him come but we had to wait a few days before he was able to leave his weekday duties and travel to Florida. My mother was drifting in and out of consciousness — she had chosen to not take any nourishment, thereby choosing to die in hospice care — but she held on long enough for him to arrive and perform the ritual. This was absolutely what she wanted most at the end, and she literally floated away from us within a matter of hours once it had come to pass.

        The point of all of this is that hospice made this possible, with my mother having so much more control over how she would spend her final days, and with no painful medical procedures and every measure taken to ease the way.

        • Patty says:

          I totally get what you mom wanted. I love chant, it cuts through all the clutter and talks directly to my soul. And I will absolutely want a priest (won’t care which one) in every day to do last rites.

          Death is so hard on everyone, nothing will make it easy, but there is so much that can be done now for people to reach a peace with it and to confront their own mortality and temporariness, which is what all of us keep trying to avoid.

          Just being unhooked for all the tubes when you go out is a major thing for most people. It doesn’t feel right.

  • Natalie says:

    Huzzah for you for doing hospice training… My mother died 14 years ago, at home, and hospice care made it not only possible but as decent an experience as one could hope for.

    As for the Cartiers, you do know that the numerals are on the back, so you look at them through the glass, right? Eight would be VIII, not IIX. (Apologies for being pedantic — please swat me if you knew that.) I sniffed the XIIIeme at Saks yesterday, and man oh man did I have to restrain myself from plunking down $250 on the spot — I was so bowled over by it, in fact, that I forgot to sniff any of the others 8-|. And I couldn’t finagle any samples out of the snooty SAs, so I would LOVE to be entered in the draw — thank you!

    • Patty says:

      I’ve heard that over and over. The people that do hospice work will tell you, bar none, that they get more out of it than they give. They have to be really careful about self-care.

      Don’t apologize! I actually do pretty well with Roman numerals, and when I read your comment, I’m thinking, duh, of course there is no IIX. But I wasn’t doing that reading through the bottle thing, which is what threw me and got my brain all twisted up.

      It is a gorgeous scent. I was worried about the patchouli at first, but when that calmed down, it just completely captured my heart.

      • Natalie says:

        I just wanted to add that there was one weird moment with hospice: one of the hospice nurses — not even one of the regular ones, just one who substituted for a day — got weirdly attached to us, wrote us letters, etc. etc. It was obvious that she had been through something similar herself and was still working it out; she was really nice, but it made the situation more about her, which was sort of odd and inappropriate. Not saying that you’d do anything like that, just a reminder to keep anything you need to work out separate from your relationship with the patients.

        The Cartier I tried was the 13th hour, and my knees went so weak I didn’t even make it down to 12!

        • Patty says:

          Oh, yeah. They caution us about that strongly on both sides. That if we are feeling great about being needed and getting attached to that feeling, it’s time to back away, and that we have to be careful of getting too attached to people. That, yes, some people will just hit our hearts smack on, and you can’t get away from it, but when they are gone, that we can’t hold onto families, that they have to go on, leaving that time and people an experience is a part of working through their grief.

          Some families try to hang onto hospice people, too, and that’s not good either. It’s tough to go in, care on both sides, but then you have to make that separation so everyone can move on with their life.

          They do make allowances for patients that graduate from hospice and get better. If you want to continue a friendship, everyone just has to sign a release, and then you can.

  • Tara says:

    Thank you so much for your writing on Hospice. Please enter me in the drawing.

  • bursztyn says:

    I am a regular reader, but first time commenter. Thank you for writing so eloquently about this. My mother passed away 20 years ago Wednesday, and I cannot tell you how similar the experience of her dying was to that of your father. I wish you strength and courage–the families you come in contact with are indeed blessed.

    • Patty says:

      So glad you commented!

      And thanks. I’m incredibly nervous about the whole thing, but I feel completely drawn to do this. I guess the things we go through eventually pull us around to a place we need to be.

      • March says:

        Aw. You made me cry too. My mom died alone 20+ years ago in the cancer ward (even though she didn’t have cancer) because we didn’t know any better. I felt incredibly guilty for years; she should have been at home, we knew she was dying, but we couldn’t figure out how get her the pain meds she needed at home. It was so horrible.

        Anyway, things were very different with my in-laws recently, both of whom died at home the way they wanted, with the people who loved them. Hospice was awesome.

        • Patty says:

          Aw, sweetie, I didn’t mean to make anyone cry. You didn’t know, and things have changed SO much in the last 20 years. I have to tell myself that all the time or the guilt of us all doing the wrong things is crushing. But I know he understands, and it’s okay.

          They have a joke – why do they nail shut the coffins of cancer patients? So the doctors can’t keep giving them chemotherapy. Our society is geared to fixing people, and it can’t seem to stop and admit when it can’t fix anymore and just let people go. I didn’t really even know about hospice when my dad died, just as a word I’d heard. I just have this funny sense that it’s him still pushing me in directions I’m not entirely sure I want to go.

          • Masha says:

            Great joke, and spot on, really! As a nurse who was also a hospice volunteer for many years (back in the day when it was totally volunteer and a bit more anarchic than now), I’m so pleased to hear you’ve signed on, you’ll have amazing experiences, and you’ll learn so much, and find so much love waiting for you. You’re going to be terrific, and yes, be frightened, because it will open your heart like few things besides parenthood can do.