An Aromatic Goodbye to My Mom; Lillian (11/15/1927– 8/1/2011)

The dissipating essence of volatile oils escape from their liquid state; captured within the nasal cavity and settling in to mingle among the olfactory nerves. The physical properties and molecular structure are now gone, the electrons free to recreate as they transfer their message, channeled through the olfactory bulb to communicate their song. The information conveyed becomes a temporary shift in body and attitude. The imprinted memory and associated emotions are forever.

My mother, whose essence is no longer stored in the biology of her physical body, continues to permeate and resonate within my memory, my life. If I were to reverse the path, taking the memory and transforming it into an essential oil formula, it would go something like this:

Vetiver, the viscous base oil with its dense, soft, yet smoky, aroma, grounds the whole, holding in place each fragrant compound, allowing them freedom to reach out and release at a time of most efficacious impact. She was a solid and firmly dedicated parent, raising 6 children alone after abandonment from a husband who left while pregnant with the 6th child. I never felt the instability that must have been present and constantly gnawing at her daily existence. Like the grass sprouting from the vetiver roots, from which the oil is obtained, I felt securely in place, fluttering about with the wind, and bending from my impulses, but never in fear of being released prematurely.

In the mid-note of the blend is Lavender, the healer without fanfare, just getting the job done. Its identity entwined within the complexities that surrounds it, while sharing and providing its own complex curative potential; whether it be a scratch to the knee, other physical pains and illness, a wounded ego or insecurities. She was there for whatever was needed, providing nursing and comfort to every aspect of childhood and survival.

There was a fire, and what I always sensed as burning unfulfilled desires, within my mother. An attitude and longing that can only be expressed by Cinnamon. At times it energizes, stimulating mind and body into action, and at times it burns, irritating and uncomfortable, but would pass to leave the inspiration that life was always worth living and your dreams were always worth fighting for.

Ylang Ylang – florally euphoric, sensual and bold – are attributes I had, only a few times, recognized in the woman that was my mother. A life burdened by what most would call hardship would certainly compress any sensuality wanting expression. This perfume holds ylang ylang’s sweet feminine spirit deep, with a presence that is only periodically identifiable, but with an impact that still speaks, even if only to the unconscious. Who would this woman have been had her true zeal and sensuality been fully expressed in relationship and life?

The resin of mysticism, magic, meditation and soul is Frankincense. Lillian Ruocco grew up infiltrated by Italian Catholic ideals, tradition, morals and beliefs. Like frankincense, she sensed a bigger purpose, a more expansive reality and a “truth” that could not be expressed by the words of conformity dictated by the stubborn reality she was taught existed. She stated a belief in God, though her expression and questioning of this belief demonstrated she felt this higher power to be more than the God within books scripted by humans. Frankincense, the oil of choice in religious ceremony since antiquity, allows us to peak beyond religious dogma, opening the third eye to “see” a Universal connection and intelligence and something that exists that can not be known burdened by the physical world and illusion of our senses.

Rose, the dominant beauty and dynamic heart of all flowers, is at the center of who my mother was and the memory that she is. There is extreme complexity and depth of character that defines rose, but at its core, it is the scent of love – being loved and giving love. Like the rosebush, my mother was not without her thorns; thorns that can be forgiven due to the magnificence of the rose itself, and the magnitude of my mother’s love.

This is the blend of essential oils that encapsulates the fragrance of a life and now an implanted memory of my mother.



  1. Chere Mccoy says:

    Jimm please accept my sympathy at the passing of you mom – obviously a fine fine woman, lady and mother..

  2. Jimm –

    I was a student at your Spring Bastyr Foundations course. I want to extend my thanks to you for sharing your knowledge and especially your beautiful tribute to your mother. How wonderful to find your connection with her and with what you share with others.

    As a mom of boys, I find this particularly touching.

    Be well and know she is always with and within you. A woman so strong is not easily extinguished.

    Hugs from a mom – respect from a student;

    Julia Elliott

  3. What a beautiful, profound and elegant elegy! I was just introduced to your products this evening, while receiving a facial at Exhale Spa in Santa Monica, CA. When the aesthetician began the facial massage, I asked her that the exquisite product was that she was using – its scent was an outlier, uncommon in the family of ‘spa-like’ aromas. I came home to look up your products and found your wonderful blog, and this touching article. I can’t wait to look more into what you do, and recommend your products to my clients. Sincerely, Catherine Tingey