So, I am on Day 8 of suffering from a sinus infection and have resolved to go to the doctor in hope of getting some anti-biotics to combat the evil-biotics that presently hold power in the front of my head. Pondering this decision caused me to remember how my mother dealt with different cold symptoms for my siblings and I.
There was the Vick’s Vapor Rub; every kid’s first experience with menthol back in the 60’s. That stuff was the closest thing to magic with its combination of warmth, intrusive vapor, and exotic smell.
Then there was the combination of honey, lemon juice, and whiskey, mixed by the tablespoon, for coughs. Again, another mysterious combination, this time of something fabulously sweet, incredibly sour, and absolutely forbidden.
And for the most part, these worked, at least temporarily but the experience lingered in pleasant memory as we would lie in bed having been dosed by one or had the other rubbed shaman style on our chest.
Inherent in these rituals and connected to their efficaciousness was trust. Momma was taking care of us.
But not all of her remedies worked as well as she thought. Somewhere along the way our mother discovered another concoction for chronic coughing that involved boiled onions mixed with cane syrup. This mixture was then placed in the refrigerator where it stiffened into a sticky mass. The application was to take a spoon and cut a lozenge size dose and then slowly suck on it to relive throat irritation and thereby end the constant cough.
And you know what? It worked. In fact it worked so well that after that first and only time I ever put that ‘medicine’ in my mouth…my mom never heard me cough again.
So today when I go to the doctor if he happens to mix me a drink of lemon, honey, and whiskey, I’ll lift the glass. If he wants to apply some concoction on my chest, I will happily remove my shirt. But if I catch the aroma of sickeningly sweet onion…I’m outta there.