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Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013
Grandma's way was bestPosted Monday, January 7, 2013, at 4:21 PM
What is it about the good, old days of yesteryear that make you appreciate where you've been and cherish the memories of those loved ones who have passed on?
All this snowy stuff, cold temperatures and this flu bug that's going around has made me remember my time as a kid growing up in a small Perry County town in southern Indiana.
My Grandmother Fischer, who was my mother's Mom, lived with us for about dozen years or so.
She was a strict, German Catholic woman who was big on discipline and doing things her way or no way.
During my formative, growing-up years she was my primary caretaker, because my mother, who was widow, worked to support the family ---- sometime she toiled at two jobs to make ends meet.
My grandmother, who was twice widowed, was no nonsense.
She had raised five kids of her own on a farm and was intent on molding myself, a young mischievous only child, city slicker of a kid the only way she knew how.
She was tough, but loving.
At the time, I probably didn't understand all she was trying to do, but as I grew, I've learned to appreciate and adhere to her methods and she had some rather memorable ways of dealing with common illnesses -- like coughs and colds.
I, like many others around our county, have recently been battling this nasty, nagging bug that's going around for about three weeks now.
My symptoms have included a deep cough, chest congestion, headache, ear infection, aching body from head to toe and generally, I've felt like crap.
I ventured to the ER to get relief nine days ago, then strangely, I felt pretty good for day or two and then it hit me again -- with a little more strength and zap.
During this time of coughing, resting and sleeping as much as I could, I had some time to remember growing up as a kid and I remember my Grandmother Fisher.
My grandmother was a walking pharmacy of homespun, old-school methods of recuperation.
The most vivid memory was any time I fell ill or just wanted to miss a day of school -- like many young kids do ---- she had a sure-fire manner of making me re-evaluate that early morning choice.
When I announced I was sick and didn't want to go to school that day, she would calmly march to the bathroom medicine chest and pull out her trusty bottle of castor oil. It didn't matter if you had a cough, stomach ache, headache, whatever I told her my symptoms were, if I was going to miss school, the first battery of medical treatment was a big tablespoon full of this nasty rancid tasting stuff.
It didn't take long for me to decide, that missing school just wasn't worth it, if I had to deal with grandma. So my school attendance after about the second grade was pretty good.
Another thing grandma insisted on when you were hit by a cough and head congestion, like I am now, was something she called her onion wrap.
She would fry up a couple of big yellow onions in an old iron skillet until they were soft and smelly. Then she'd wrap them in a cloth along with a few finger dabs of Vick's Vapor Rub and place this steamy hot wrapped concoction on my chest -- so the aroma of the onions and chest rub would quickly permeate my nose and mouth.
I've got to say, it usually worked pretty well at opening up your nostrils and breathing passages so the road to recovery was usually quick.
Looking back, I have to laugh because as a kid I probably had the strangest body odor around because this onion stuff just hung on and hung on, no matter how much you tried to wash it off.
Anyway, as I type this between numerous bouts of this annoying hacking cough and sneezing, grandma's method of attacking what we call the flu or a cold are looking better all of the time.
I already got some medication at the ER and tried most of the "over the counter" cold stuff in the past couple of weeks.
It's probably time to fry up some onions like grandma did.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow Nick on Twitter @GCDWSchneider .
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