A silk eye mask I found in her bedside drawer to combat the harsh hospital ceiling lights, a L’Occitane lip balm – who doesn’t feel better with moisturised lips? Her no nonsense Atrixo hand cream. Surely her hands would benefit from a little scented slathering. A La Roche Posay Toleriane Sensitive Moisturiser I discovered half used in the bathroom, so obviously a must-have. Not essential items, I admit, but items I thought would bring home that little bit closer to her.
During her final few days when we realised Covid had taken an alarming grip – the stroke was no longer the focus, to encourage her to stay strong and positive, I asked her to imagine herself back at home, in her bedroom looking at her dressing room table littered with perfume bottles. One thing I’d discovered, was my mum had kept every single fragrance, face, body, eye cream I’d given her over the past 20 odd years.
In a former life I was a health and beauty editor and blogger up until 10 years ago, and was quite frankly spoilt rotten with samples and gifts. There’s only so much one beauty cabinet can hold, so many of my surplus to requirements was re-gifted to my mum. She essentially had my beauty career in the bedroom.
Her voice seemingly brightened when I mentioned this soothing and relatable vision – her hamlet of fragrances and lotions settled across not only her dressing table, but her chest of drawers. There must have been over 60 bottles – from Chanel through to Lauder, Tiffany, Lanvin and the forgotten Soir de Paris from Bourjois in its half-moon midnight blue bottle. As house proud as she was, she would have dusted those bottles daily and carefully over those decades. I can’t bear discarding them, and nor do I want to.