By Patricia Paris
I slept late this January morning. I was able to awaken naturally, so much nicer than to an alarm clock or the neighbor’s barking dog. My throat hurts, I feel feverish and wretched, and I am so glad my neighbor’s dog was quiet. Most mornings she barks for an hour before my alarm sounds.
The weatherman says we could get a ‘wintry mix’ and I wonder why we no longer have rain mixed with snow? Did we really need all the new weather jargon? I hope they never come up with a ‘summery mix’. Personally, I always thought ‘blue skies and warm, sunny days’ had a nice ring to it.
Regardless of what it’s called, today’s weather won’t touch me. I plan to stay inside and flop around in oversized pajamas and big, fuzzy shoes and have a pity party all by myself. My party fare will be soup and plenty of orange juice. Some party!
I’ve been thinking about my grandmother this morning. I miss her on days like this. I guess Aunt Mildred isn’t the only one who likes to reminisce.
If Miss Kate was here, I know she would make chocolate oatmeal. When I was very young, she unfailingly gave me chocolate oatmeal when I didn’t feel well. Today, when I think of comfort food, that’s what I think of …a bowl of sweetened, hot oatmeal with a spoonful of cocoa powder stirred into it, and a pat of butter on top. I made it for my children too but they never mention it and I wonder if they remember. Suddenly it seems important to know, so I’ll have to ask about that.
Miss Kate believed in treating the sick and getting them well! When I was only slightly sick, ‘puny’ she called it, I was still sent to school no matter what the weather. Then when the weekend rolled around, the weather was beautiful, and I was feeling just fine, I was told, “You can’t go outside. You know you’ve been sick.” Her brand of logic kept me in the house on weekends for an entire winter!
January usually brought colds. Colds were dreaded the most because then I got the full treatment. This included greasing my chest and back with Vicks salve, then wrapping me ‘round and ‘round with warm flannel strips and giving me orange-flavored children’ aspirin before tucking me in bed with heavy quilts up to my ears. I was wrapped so tightly I couldn’t move and the fumes from the Vicks had nowhere to go but up my nose. I was left like that until morning, mummified and nearing asphyxiation.
If anyone complained of a sore throat, they were given the terrible-tasting, liquid medicine, prescribed by Dr. George Ed, and she watched the clock like a hawk, making sure no one missed a dose. My house was definitely not a good place to be when you caught a cold. I believe we all got well, not because of the treatment, but in self-defense. She was also a great believer in Fletcher’s Castoria and if you don’t know what that is, just trust me. It was not a good thing.
School days were missed only if you were sick enough to see the doctor. Dr. George Ed took care of everyone in town, the young and the old. He delivered me and many years later, as an aging physician, he cared for my grandfather in his final days, two old friends, one still helping the other. Ed was his middle name, by the way, not his last. I assume his middle name was Edward, but this being the South, you never know. It could have been one of those Joe Bob things.
This morning, I checked my medicine cabinet and, as always, with a flu bug, I’m never sure. Do I take one for fever and one for cough and another for throat pain? Or do I take the new over-the-counter wonder drug that fixes everything? I’m sure Miss Kate would know what to do. If she were here, I’d happily let her smear me with Vicks and feed me chocolate oatmeal. However, I’m older now and a lot smarter so I would put up a fight and plead for mercy about that Castoria.
I finally choose the wonder drug and hope it performs its miracles quickly. Maybe I’ll make some soup. I know Miss Kate would approve. Then I’ll try to read and rest, and maybe take a nap. I hope that darned dog doesn’t start barking again.
Patricia Paris shares her lifelong love of writing with readers everywhere as she delivers her unique, tongue-in-cheek style in her southern-style newspaper column, "Patricia's Porch Talk" in various newspapers across the United States. Managing Editor of JPS Features (2006-2007), a Chattanooga-based website for writers. Copyright 2009 Patricia Parispatriciaparis@gmail.comMember