We never went to the doctor when I was growing up. I do mean that literally, almost. I remember going to the doctor one whole time before I got married and needed their prenatal services. That was, I believe, for a kidney infection when I was probably 11 or 12. I don't really think we were such an extra healthy lot, I think our maladies just didn't stand a chance against the home remedies thrown at them!
From as far back as I can remember, you had a remedy for everything, Mom. Sore throat? Gargle with salt water and drink honey and lemon in hot water; spray your throat with chloraseptic, that old spray bottle with the green liquid that lived in the medicine cabinet. If it was severe enough, you might get a batch of vinegar candy made to sooth your throat. I can also remember, as a child, going to bed with a hot, wet rag, covered with a dry one, pinned around my neck. I'm not really sure what that was supposed to do, but it did it, as I recall. A cold? Mega doses of vitamin C and good old Vicks were the first weapons in line. Of course the best thing of all (although you could hardly ever persuade anyone else to do it) was salt water up your nose. Cleared your sinus issues right up, supposedly! An earache, of course, required vicks on a cotton ball tucked into the offending ear.
There were also the many 'cure alls' over the years. I can't remember them all, but Ozie Compound was the thing for a few of us delicate, sickly souls. I don't remember how to spell it, but I certainly remember the image of that black, oily stuff in the little cup beside my plate every morning. It tasted like motor oil. Don't ask how we knew that; some things you just know! Then, there was the period of time that we passed the bottle of Sulfur around every morning, and each person stuck the handle of his spoon in and downed his little pile of the dry, powdery stuff. Sawdust, that's what that tasted like. I think corn bags could be included in the list of 'cure alls'. Just warm one in the microwave, and you were ready to cure anything!
It was for good reason we children would whisper our maladies to each other and add, "But don't tell Mom!!" We knew what the first question out of her mouth would be, "Did you take anything??" Our invariable answer was cause for much exasperation, "Weeelll, no." Although, on occasion we might state our affliction and add triumphantly, "And yes, I took something!" Why we wanted so badly to prove her remedies wrong, I'm not quite sure.
So it was, that I woke up at 3 a.m. with an earache and thought of you, Mom. I made my trek to the bathroom and crawled back in the cozy bed and couldn't sleep. I laid there for a while and fought the urge to get up and do what should be done. Finally, I gave in. I climbed back out from under the warm covers, dug around for the Vicks and a cottonball, and stuck the slathered thing in my ear. Then, I did one better. I groped in the dark for my rice sock, opened the microwave as quietly as I could and stuck it inside. While I waited for it to warm, I was tempted to check for a flannel night gown and house slippers!
Just wanted to tell you, all your home remedies were not in vain, Mom. Aren't you proud of me?