I've just e-mailed a tiny little cheese factory in Odessa Ontario (just outside of Kingston) to see if they'll ship me a couple of tubs of Humbugs.
You know it's bad when you're pleading with strangers to send you candy.
When My Beloved and I were coming home from our anniversary getaway in Montreal, we stopped at the Wilton Cheese Factory to browse for cheese (a mutual passion - both the browsing for and eating of). I don't have any idea what Humbugs were doing in a cheese store, but there they were; little amber and cream striped pillows of hard peppermint delight.
I haven't tasted Humbugs like these since I was a kid.
My Grandfather, who passed his frugality and his love of hard candy on to me, always had Humbugs in his pocket. As a kid I remember hugging him and smelling a mixture of wood smoke (from the ever-present fires he liked to burn, regardless of the season), Old Spice (when it was a Sunday, Christmas or Easter), and Humbugs. The three scents combined to form a unique and completely unmistakable "Grandpa Cologne" that, if I concentrate hard enough, I can almost conjure up in my mind's eye. Or my nose's eye, as it were.
Smoke and Old Spice are easy to find, but not so the humble Humbug. Until that day in the cheese factory they were lost to me.
Having found them, I refuse to let them go. I need my Humbugs now. I NEED them.
My Grandfather and I had a difficult relationship. I didn't understand him in many ways, and I struggled with his inability to show true love, affection and kindness to the people I thought he had to have loved the most.
I didn't think I liked him all that much until he died. And now I miss him, and his smokey, Humbug-y, Old Spice scent.
I miss the connection he was to my past. To my childhood. To my Grandmother, who I adored. I miss his stories, most of which I've heard a hundred times and could tell myself. I miss his hands, twisted and gnarled by arthritis but defiantly strong. I miss his whistling, which was the last sound I ever heard him make.
I'm sorry I didn't always feel the love I'm sure he had for me. I'm sorry he never told me. I'm sorry I never told him.
It's a mistake I'm determined I will never repeat.
The Humbugs make me think of him, and the simpler, happy times we spent together when I was a child and didn't know enough to think our relationship was anything other than perfect.
Long walks to the dam, bonfires on the beach, rowboat rides, porridge in the morning, stew at night, and a mayonnaise commercial that made him laugh so hard he'd almost cry.
I hope they'll ship me my Humbugs. It's a long drive to memory lane.