Wednesday, February 15, 2012

[Amazing & Pure] Grace Byrd

*Current Fragrance: Liaisons Dangereuses by Kilian
*Currently Listening: Waltzes, Op. 34, No. 1, "Valse Brillante" by Chopin - performed by Arthur Rubinstein   

Reading the definition above, I don't think my Grandma could have been named anymore perfectly; my Great Grandmother was one super intuitive lady! I woke up this morning knowing I was had plans to write this entry; and because I was going to write it, there would be crying involved. (I just got done with a horrible stomach bug. Stomach bug + crying = a not good combination) This blog is going to get pretty personal (more personal that most), but as I've said before: "Perfume...It's Personal."

Grandma & I in her kitchen. I look to be about 5.
 You see, my Grandma Byrd (maternal grandmother) is pretty much my hero. I've talked a little about her in this post when she quietly gifted me some jewelry that had belonged to her mother (my Great Grandmother, who I supposedly just like) the last Christmas she was alive. Grandma has made an another appearance early on in No Disassemble Charlie No. 5, when I spoke of my deep love of Christian Dior. (For the sake of clarity: I was lucky enough know all four of my grandparents very well, and have all of them in my lives until my freshman year of college. When I say "Grandma", that's Grandma Byrd. "Granny" is Grandma LeBlanc, who was my last living Grandparent - who passed away close to a year and a half ago.)

I don't feel like I can really talk about her without first sharing my clearest memory. It's actually not a singular memory, but a constant thread in my life every Saturday from my absolute earliest memories until I was about twelve years old.....

It was a thirty minute drive from where Mom, Dad (and 8 years into my life), Allison lived to my Grandparent's house. Every Saturday my Mom would put myself (and later my sister) into the car or suburban and head to Grandma and Grandpa's, always getting there between 11 and 11:30am. As soon as the car door opened, you could hear my grandmother practicing the piano. (She is the only other trained musician in the family. All I know is she went to music school in Arkansas; and taught piano for years in her house...the things I wished I would have asked, but I thought I had all the time in the world...) What we heard he playing depended completely upon what time we got there: if we got there on the earlier side it was something out of the Methodist Hymnal that she needed for Church the next day; but if it was later and her work was "done", she would be playing something by Chopin (normally a waltz) for "fun". Chopin was her absolute favorite.

Once out of the vehicle, we'd walk through the garage, and you'd be hit by the smell of pot roast cooking. It didn't matter if that's what was on the menu that day. Pot roast was cooked on Saturday' was just the rule of Grandma-land. Upon the click of the doorknob of the door from the garage to the kitchen, the piano would stop and you could hear my Grandma, "There are my Grand babies! Oh, I LOVE my Grand babies!" (They say you loose the sound of people's voices once the die. I suppose I'm one of the really lucky ones.... This memory never seams to fade. I attribute it to the fact that happened so consistently for so long.)

She would greet my sister and I first and then my Mom. My Grandpa, Uncle Gene & Great Aunt Lou would all most likely be sitting at the kitchen table, but it was some sort of unwritten code that Grandma got us first. By that point in her life she would be wearing some sort of patterned silky stop and coordinating colored pants that she made herself. My Aunt Lou, mysteriously enough would be dressed similarly, but not too similarly - nor clashing for that matter. I'm convinced they called one another every morning and coordinated outfits. Grandma had intimate knowledge of my Aunt's wardrobe as, Aunt Lou paid her to sew all her clothes for her.

Since this is a perfume blog, I guess I should talk about the way she smelled. I don't particularly remember her wearing a lot of perfume. I know she had lots of skin sensitivities. (I remember the sun, NOT being her friend...I can relate!) I do remember unearthing a bottle of both White Shoulders and the original Emeraude in her vanity. (Which my sister now uses in her room. I have the bedroom suite that she and her two sisters used growing up. She was the middle child, it went: Inez, Grace, Anna Lou.) What I DO remember my Grandma smelling like was Coty Airspun powder. :-D

I know I'm rambling, and I could go on and on and on and on and on.... So I'll try and reign it in. While we're talking about my Grandma - and tying her name to the post and in turn to perfume - I have to tell this story: She was born February 12, 1910 in Parker, LA to Cecile Domingue and John Alcee Wiltz. She was baptized Grace Wiltz. WHAT!?!?! No middle name!?!?!? It was February and cold, and my Great Grandmother had given my Great Grandfather a first middle and last name to their new daughter to tell the priest; but my Great Grandfather shall we say...was trying to both stave off thirst AND the cold. By the time he made it to the church all he could remember was "Grace Byrd". So, my Grandma had no middle name...until she was oh...about 77/78, which was when my baby sister was starting really communicate.

Grandma & Allison when SHE was about 5. (The more I look at this, the more I see myself in Grandma.)
When Allison was first starting to speak, she gave my Grandparents new names: Grandma became "Dow", and Grandpa became "Pow Pow". Where in Allison's mind this came from, we really don't know, but Grandma, excuse me...Dow got a big kick out of it. "I've never had a middle name before," she'd say, "and now I do! Grace Dow Byrd!"

I could write an entire entry on just the love my Grandma and Grandpa has for one another and how downright sweet it was (and I probably will once I find a way to link it to fragrance). They were the cutest couple ever! They weren't saccharin...they were just them. Grandma was dynamic. Grandpa was steady. Sounds a little like another couple I know....

Grandma and Grandpa on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, about a year before I was born.

Al & I.

Grandma was loving and kind and accepting, but at the same time fiercely protective. Those are the things I look up to her the most, and really, REALLY do try to emulate in my life.

In honor of my Grandma's birthday I'm doing a giveaway of a fragrance namesake for her. Up for grabs is a 2 fl. oz. (new in box) spay Eau de Toilette of Philosophy's Pure Grace. Philosophy's website describes the fragrance as "a soap and water scent, Pure Grace is an infinitely clear fragrance designed to make you feel like you just stepped out of the shower." I think this is an EXCELLENT description! Sephora lists the notes as: bergamot, water lily, lavender, jasmine, cool greens, musk. I really think the prose-like description of Philosophy is MUCH better. If you are really a "non-perfumey" type, this one could really be nice for you.

 To enter comment below, or like or comment on the Facebook link, or retweet the link about the post on Twitter. I'll keep the entry period open until noon EST on Wednesday, February 22; then I'll draw the winner at random.

*Currently Listening: Waltzes, Op. 64, No. 1 "Minute", in D-flat by Chopin - performed by Arthur Rubinstein   

**Photo credits: First photo;, final photo;, all other photos; my own

***Disclosure: The perfume available in the giveaway was part of a gift set I received from a family member for Christmas. It contained two different bottle of Pure Grace along with several body care products. With all the perfume I own, I simply won't make it through that much of any one fragrance. I just want to share the love!


  1. Aww.. how sweet! My grandma wore Sand and Sable- and I just looked it up real quick and it is by Coty! ha!

  2. What a lovely post, thank you for sharing your memories of your grandmother with us. My paternal grandmother, may her memory be a blessing, did not wear perfume, and my maternal grandmother wears Estee Lauder White Linen.

  3. I loved reading this post! I have fond memories of both my grandmothers....though my dad's mother died when I was 5..she used to keep me a lot and we had a lot of fun times. I am not sure what perfumes they wore, as I don't think either wore perfume too much, but I know they both always wore Coty Airspun powder and that is the one scent today that can take me back to them :)

  4. To all...Grandmother's are so special! I love that the Airspun powder is ending up being a theme for most of us! :-D

  5. I completely lost it at "There are my Grand babies! Oh, I LOVE my Grand babies!" I can't breath and Buddy if freaking out because he's worried about me. lol.

  6. HUGE congratulations to you! your blog is amazing. Brazilian
    Blowout Shampoo