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How Natalie Wood’s Daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner Came to Love Mother’s Day Again Years After Actress' Tragic Death

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Natasha Gregson Wagner

For many years after the death of her mother in 1981, Natalie Wood’s daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner says Mother’s Day “was a sad and difficult day.”

“For the first 20 years, Mother’s Day was really hard,” says Gregson Wagner, who was 11 when her mom died in a boating accident off California’s Catalina Island. “And then they got easier after my daughter Clover was born.”

For Gregson Wagner, who launched the fragrance line Natalie last year in honor of her mother, it wasn’t until she became a mom herself to her daughter, now 4, that the day became joyful again.

“Now that I have become a mother, so much of me has healed,” Gregson Wagner — the daughter of Wood and her second husband, Richard Gregson — tells PEOPLE. “It’s almost like the that empty space inside of you gets filled up — maybe it’s the love you have for your child.”

VIDEO: Natasha Gregson Wagner’s Memories Of Her Mother Natalie Wood

This Mother’s Day, she’s adding to the Natalie fragrance line with the launch of a refillable eau de parfum purse spray, in the star’s signature gardenia scent, which comes in a pink box featuring her signature, “With Love, Natalie.” (The line is also available at select boutiques including www.ronrobinson.com and www.macys.com.)

“Back in the day, my mom only had the big bottle, which is why I think she wore so much of it!” Gregson Wagner, 46, says with a laugh. “So it would stay on the whole day.”

“This version is based on essential oils, so a purse spray is a good way to give yourself a boost — a gardenia boost halfway through the day.”

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Gregson Wagner, who is married to actor Barry Watson (together they have three kids, including two sons from Watson’s first marriage), has poignant memories of her early Mothers’ Day celebrations as a child.

“I would write my mom these cards and draw pictures,” she recalls. “I was recently going through some storage and I found one of her journals, and tucked away in the back were all the drawings that my sister Courtney and I had made for her.” (Courtney, now 43, was born three years after Natasha.)

Everett

“I mostly remember us having a casual celebration at our house on N. Canon Drive. Cold cuts from Nate ’n Al’s, and my dad” — Wood’s first husband Robert Wagner, whom she calls “Daddy Wagner” — “would invite friends over. My dad will still say, ‘You want to come over, we’re having Nate ‘n Al’s.’ He’s a creature of habit!” 

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Now, she says, “Mother’s Day feels like a real day of completion and contentment, a day of gratitude. I wonder sometimes if it felt like that for her, too.”

And Gregson Wagner is happy to be creating a beautiful fragrance line (which also includes a candle, along with some new products in the works) as a way to remember her iconic mother.

“I feel like I’m doing good by doing it,” she says. “I didn’t know it was something that was missing, but I think it was.”