The Warmth Of My Grandmother’s Mink

December 11, 2015

The scent of my grandmother’s mink came warmly back to me …when I viewed the movie “Carol” today…
As a child I would kiss her and nestle my nose into the  warmth of her coat….the scent of her perfume lingered… was a Christmas smell…
that brings back warm  Christmas memories of the Ridder’s  (the columnist for the Washington Post) annual party at which she played their Grand piano….as everyone sang in that bemistletoed, garlanded, candlelit house….perched high above the Potomac River…next to Hugh Auchincloss’s house…(Jackie Kennedy’s stepfather)…..back then I went to Shippens Dancing School …where Jackie’s step sister Janet and stepbrother Jamie (and man was he a pompous ass)…. went….
and I will never forget how I looked forward to that one lady on crutches….a beautiful woman…jet dark black hair in a chignon….she was the ONLY person who could hit that high G or was it C …in “Oh Holy Night”…..(the song ranges an octave and a half)…
it would send shivers down my back literally…as everyone else struggles to reach THAT note….
this was in the 70’s….a wonderful Christmas time….
I think her name was Marie…Ridder (?) …she was just stunning…the reason she was crippled was that she was thrown from the deck of the Andrea Doria to the deck of the  MS Stockholm…. when it was hit by the MS Stockholm in 1956….causing the Andrea Doria to eventually sink…46 people died….it remains  the worst “recent” maritime disaster in US history….
I was glad that the first movie about Gay women I have seen…was handled so elegantly….so beautifully warm…..such taste and well it was just quite moving 
but it brought back the scent of my grandmother’s mink…
as I have begun to nestle into the beautiful warmth of Palm Springs…
just in the last two days…seems like a month apart
last night was spent with a (relatively new) dear friend..Brad…we went on the “Inn Walk” that is held the second Thursday of every an Annual Toy Drive…..
16 of these small inns that you would not normally experience open their doors from 4-8…well there was “Colony 29” that Brad said we had to hit first as his girlfriend Carol said one had to experience it while it was still light out….which I TOTALLY understood after we spent some time there…hiking up the hill it is built on….
the property was first bought by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, Jr…whose own  father (Daniel Burnham Sr)….was one of the top architects in the US back in the late 1800’s….he died in 1912…and helped in the rebuilding of Chicago after their Great Fire of 1871…at an early age he was ingrained to believe that man should Always Strive to be of service to others……..
Burnham Jr…who was an architect also, bought the property in the 20’s for his son John… an artist…he established an artist colony…but what is sooo soo wonderful for me about the property…and something I know all of my siblings would love….it is full of nooks and crannies…nothing is laid out in any conventional way…there are tubs or “spa”s everywhere…in all different shapes and sizes and materials….from old tin horse drinking troughs to ones made out of the natural rock….the lighting is soo romantic…the desert planting is unbelieveable…there are 6 houses..13 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms…6 kitchens..etc etc….
the property was divided after John I gather sold it….into separate plots and it was only 13 years ago David Johnston…had the foresight to buy up all the properties and unite  them to their original whimsical glory….it is now available for private affairs….
it is like a step back in time……
and then tonight was our usual Fraternal gathering of the “Boozey Bunch”…that dear Marv and Jeff sponsored….
well I am fairly new…but you know Barbra WaWa…I just get so intrigued by people….there are two people I have wanted to know more about…the Extremely talented James (Jim) Lapidus ..his last big design project was all of the costumes for the “24” series with Keifer Sutherland….
and his husband Anthony Mendez…whom I am afraid I cornered…. taking too much of his time….
 he deals with people with Alzheimer….dementia…..
it is just devastating what one goes through…and for the person who has it…well we all know WE do NOT want anyone we love to have to go through it..with the fear WE might end up this way… Mother use to say…just drop the dry cleaning bags on top of me and go about your business…then you can’t be blamed for anything……as she said IF I ever get that way I DO NOT want to go on….a feeling I TOTALLY echo
but the compassion…the walls one hits in dealing with this incurable disease is just just sooo challenging 
and I am in Total Awe of those who have such a heart to assist this dark path some have to follow before ….the light appears at the end….
it was the Warmth of the movie Carol and the Warmth of the compassion Anthony has….
that at this Christmastime reminds me of the warmth and  the ethereal scent of my Grandmother’s mink
it will stay comforting with  me forever

4 Responses to “The Warmth Of My Grandmother’s Mink”

  1. Zach said

    Beautiful thoughts, Uncle Rob…

  2. Beautiful remembrance of past Christmas times like visiting with Truman Capote’s aunt in “A Christmas Memory”. The smell of Gabby’s mink in which her perfume was captured so exquisitely. Those evenings of Christmas carols at the home of Walter Ridder high above the Potomac, his ectomorphic frame shuddering as he strained to reach the high notes.The snow always falling in large silent flakes blanketing the nation’s capitol by early morning.

  3. Richard said

    Another wonderful essay, always so very enjoyable to read. I can almost smell my Grandmother’s coat as well–there are some things that never leave your mind. Thanks and have a great Christmas Season–Thanks for the Weight Watchers Candy!!!! Ha Ha Hugs R&R

  4. Jeff Slater said

    Thank-you, Rob. I remember the smell of my great-grandmother’s perfume when we would visit her on holidays and she would she would hug us to her ample breasts. And now my mom, who no longer remembers my name, and who is obviously struggling with dementia/alzheimers and is fading away from me as I sit helplessly by; unable to reach her.

    Which is why we have to treasure every moment, every hug, every kiss and to appreciate the incredible group of friends we have while we are here.

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