"Someone's gonna die!"

I have been sitting here, working away at my desk, and all around me, for over a quarter of an hour, now, has been the smell of roses, even though there is not a rose in the house.

It is delightful! I am delighted.

Why does it happen, sometimes, that we smell flowers out of nowhere?

Or is this something that only my mother and I have experienced?

Of course, I find it a lovely gift and let it go.

My mother, when she smelled flowers, would declare in a panicked voice: “I smell flowers! Someone is gonna die!”

Because I think, once, she smelled flowers and then later learned of a death, and so that association was forever with her, although in the 37 years I knew her, no one ever died after one of her pronouncements.

Then again, my mother was a brilliant but very morbid type. She never let green into the house because green was “the color of death.”

I think she knew someone, once, who had a green car. And then died.

Of course…she sent us to a Catholic school where we wore hunter green jumpers, beanies and tights; she even bought those horrid green shoes. She sent me to school in green, from head-to-toe, so……there’s an uncomfortable mixed message, there, don’t you think?

“Doctor, I think my troubles began when my mother referred to me in company as ‘the afterbirth’ and then sent me to school in green, to invite death!”

So, now it all makes sense!

No wonder my siblings hate me. Who wants a little sister dressed like a pedophile’s green dream and publicly associated with placenta?

Every word is true. And yet, I sit here laughing. I must watch too much 30 Rock.

Related: Is Kanye West Tracy Jordan?

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://www.notstrictlyspiritual.blogspot.com Mary DeTurris Poust

    Thank you so much for this. I SO needed a laugh, and this certainly got me going. :-)

  • saveliberty

    Mom is a gardener. If she had smelled roses, we would have been in big trouble for picking them without authorization. ;)

    Not what you were looking for, but… :D

  • jixa

    Was your mom of Italian descent? If so, I’ll bet you were never allowed to whistle indoors.

    [Irish, baby; also English, Scots and German. Worst. Cook. Ever. -admin]

  • Maureen

    Re: green as death color

    This is actually an Irish thing. Back in the old country (at least in certain areas, late in time), green was the color of the Sidhe. You could paint your door any color but green. You could wear any color but green. It was just asking for trouble, because the Sidhe would do bad things to you for your presumption. It was deeply unlucky.

    But most places, especially in America, this meme seems to have been clubbed into submission by St. Patrick’s Day, Irish nationalism, et al. Which is not a bad thing. The idea does show up in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, though without the Sidhe. (That’s why I went looking for all this. It was just one of those sf details where you know there’s something the author knows, behind it.)

  • http://amba12.wordpress.com amba (Annie Gottlieb)


    This reminds me that for years I thought of something my mother had offhandly said to me as “the fairy’s curse.”

    [Oh, boy, if only my mother had heard that phrase; she'd have used it on me! :-) -admin]

  • GloriaH

    She was sending you daily to a Catholic school, where someone’s death (and resurrection) was observed daily. A man being tortured to death in every room. Yeah, it carries a different meaning in context.

  • GloriaH

    “the fairy’s curse.”

    I’m going to get two beers and popcorn and try to watch “Tooth Fairy” with an entirely different story line.

  • Paul Burnell

    MAybe the smell of roses was the Little Flower limbering up for Friday. Loved the video

  • http://www.insidecatholic.com Brian Saint-Paul


    I’d always heard the pious superstition that when a member of the faithful inexplicably smelled flowers (roses, usually), the Blessed Mother was nearby. A variation replaces Mary with St. Therese.

  • http://www.simchafisher.wordpress.com Simcha

    Oh, I love 30 Rock. And I have a special fondness in my heart for nutty, morbid mothers, too.

  • Kort

    I know my mom used to refer to my brother’s freckles as angel kisses. I didn’t freckle, so I didn’t get kisses :-(. Always seemed to be that way.

    I will occasionally smell lilacs, which is always strange since I have constant sinus problems. I’ve usually found that it’s followed by my mom wanting to talk to me. That’s the scent I’ve always associated with her. My dad is roses and my grandmother was honeysuckle. Since she died when I was 8, it’s just a comforting smell. Still kinda strange, though.

  • Warren Jewell

    My late wife, Sharon, experienced smelling roses where they were not about. After she died, much too early and to our deep grief, my daughter in her adolescent and teen years, and I, would smell roses about us where there were none; though that gift dissipated away eventually. Sharon attributed the roses to Saint Teresa. My daughter and I attribute the roses to Sharon’s continued love of us, and that we would have the memory of that love which, and which is of Who, never dies.

    Funny as contrasted to your Mom – when I smell roses at any time I think of life, abundant and grand, and meant to own forever. Did not our Savior, passionate Shepherd-King, Perfect Master, bring into the olive garden His garden of Himself, full of every grace and flower of virtue?

  • http://dinsdale@mts.net George D.

    Sister, I have heard of this phenomenon occurring and it has nothing to do with death, but rather is a marker of the Divine Presence of sweet Jesus Himself. The true Rose of Sharon is giving you a kiss and manifesting the fragrance of a rose. His love for you is beyond measure and He is letting you know that He is with you. Be blessed in His eternal love.

  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    I’m with Warren on the smell of flowers. I sometimes smells lilacs where there are none; they were my dad’s favorite flowers. He died in 1995. I still smell them every so often; those and cigarette smoke when no one is around (literally I’ll be alone in my car with no other cars in sight and I’ll smell it). My dad was a smoker; even though he quit about 12 years before he died, he still died of cancer.

  • milesperhour

    This was very funny. Thanks for the laugh. And I think the smell of roses means Mary is in the neighborhood; or you have a sinus infection.

  • Aimee

    This has never happened to me, and now I wish it would. Re: Green–Maureen’s right, it’s an Irish thing, actually a Celtic thing. One of the reasons why Gawain’s Green Knight is, indeed, green (there are other reasons, too; a wonderful poem).

    And I love 30Rock, always.

  • Pen&Paper

    Re 30 Rock: reference is to Martin Lawrence who did a version of that at an intersection in L.A. in 1996 (gun instead of lightsaber). Someone who worked with him said he went off his meds; media reported it was marijuana-induced.

  • Klaire

    I’ve know of serveral situations where people I know are given the “supernatural scent.” One was when my father died, and my SIL told me her entire kitchen filled up with the smell of roses (later to find out it was at the time of his death).

    On a similar note, after I came home from my mother’s funeral, I opened my shutters to a jaw dropping backyard flooded with roses (everything in full bloom; like “overnight”) Yes, I did have rosebushes, but they had never bloomed, not even one rose. FYI, my mom had a special devotion to the Little Flower and the BVM, as do I.

    I also have a nephew who had a major conversion from a scent he got while reading a Padre Pio book (left in his bedroom by his prayful aunt). He said it was the most beautiful scent, nothing comparable to anything on earth. We all know SOMETHING happend, because he went from drug addict/jail to a quiet prayful life, almost like a victim soul. It’s been over 5 years now and he only becomes deeper in his faith and prayer life. For anyone who knew him, there is no doubt he had a “miracle” of some sort, as even his siblings say there is no better witness to the Christ than to see that kind of conversion/transformation.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention The Anchoress | A First Things Blog -- Topsy.com

  • http://theornithophobe.blogspot.com/ Nmissi

    Roses, eh? The only phantom scents I ever get are food smells. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but occasionally I’ll come home and smell my Mamau’s slumgullion on the stove. Once, right after she died, I could have sworn the whole house smelled of bread pudding. Nutmeg and cinnamon. And every now and again, I’ll wake to the smell of nonexistent breakfast- bacon frying in the kitchen. I like to think it’s Mamau letting me know she’s checking up on me. That, or she’s reminding me to cook actual meals for the kids, instead of feeding them burgers and chicken nuggets.

  • http://searchingandpondering.blogspot.com gemma

    Loved this….went to the linked post about Mom and loved it…I sooo know from where you come (how’s that for honors English?). Love your mom story and love this too.

  • Teresa

    I am in agreement with some of the comments above that it was a visit from the “Little Flower.”

  • Lori

    Klaire, what lovely stories, thank you and everyone else for sharing!

    Kris, I think you may have been blessed with a visitation from Anoia, the Discworld’s Goddess of Things That Get Stuck in Drawers. The scent of cigarette smoke is said to herald her presence. How’s the pulling action in your kitchen?

  • Pingback: Catholic News Headlines September 28, 2010 « Catholic News

  • http://odsblog.blogspot.com/ Stephen Roney

    You sure got my attention with the bit about “phantom roses.” Me too. It started when I visited the shrine of Our Lady of Naju in Korea. There is an area of carpet in front of the statue of Our Lady there that bears, or bore when I was there, a strong, mysterious scent of roses. Ever since then, I have every now and again gotten an overwhelming rose smell, that will linger for perhaps an hour or so. As it happens, another pilgrim to the same shrine once confided in me exactly the same experience.

    I’m sad to report, though, that I have come to fear that smell. Because it always heralds some major shock in my life.

    I believe it is indeed from Mary; it is a reassurance that she is with us at such times. She is, as we call her back in Montreal, Notre Dame de Bonsecours.

    By the way, there is no way that your Irish mother can have been the worst cook ever. That would be my Irish grandmother.

    Can’t say how much I love her.

  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    Lori – I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take you seriously or not. Read the wiki link…still not sure. :-)

  • Lori

    Kris, it occurred to me later that it might sound like I was making fun of your smelling cigarette smoke, which certainly wasn’t my intention! It’s just that when I have a chance for a Terry Pratchett reference, I can’t resist. ;) So, no, don’t take me seriously!

  • http://zealforyourhouseconsumesme.com thereserita

    Mr. St Paul,
    I hope you were being facetious in naming smelling flowers that aren’t present as a ‘pious superstition’ because, if not, that’s an awfully arrogant statement. I’m sure you know that “nothing is impossible with God” so its best to be careful about assuming you know what He can/cannot do.
    For my part, I’ve experienced the scent of roses several times, sometimes during intense prayer & sometimes not. Since the Little Flower is my patron, I’m not at all surprised at anything she does bc she’s done much more amazing things than the smell of roses for me over the years, believe me!

  • pam

    At a prayer meeting last night the conversation turned to heaven and a cute little old nun said that she had heard that the first face you will see in heaven is that of your own mother. I think I meant to say under my breadth but wound up blurting out, “that may be a scary thing for some people.” Then I thought of this post.

  • David

    I have always heard that the scent of roses means your prayer has been answered.