By Kenneth Braswell
Remember this scene? You are somewhere between five and 12 years old, and you’ve missed a few days of school because you have a cold you just can’t shake.
Your mother has rubbed Vicks all over your body, and you’ve been eating homemade chicken soup all week. It’s been a few days now, but you’re still not feeling any better.
A phone call comes from grandma, and it goes a little sumthin’ like this. “How is he feeling? Have you given him some of that stuff in ‘the jar’ I mixed for you last year? I don’t know why you playing with that boy’s health That stuff works. It was given to my grandmother by her grandmother.”
From your bedroom you can hear your mother hang up the phone and open the cabinet door. The next sound you hear is banging. Your mother is banging on the jar because she can’t get the top off. Why? Because it’s been five years, not one year, since it’s been opened.
It seems like an eternity before you hear your mom walking towards your room. You can hear her every step. The door opens, and there your mom stands with that “jar,” the one you’ve only seen when you and your brothers and sisters were playing in cabinets in the kitchen. It goes next to that other brown jar with the man holding the big fish.
In one hand, your mother holds “the jar” and in her other hand, a big towel. She sits on the bed next to you, placed “the jar” on the night stand and touches your head to see if you got a fever.
You don’t take your eyes off “the jar.” For a minute, you think you see something moving in it. You’re too scared to talk. You know you can’t object. You hope that your mother knows what she’s doing. Although you don’t know it, she, too, has gone through this ritual many times herself. She actually knows everything that going on in your mind. That’s why she’s moving so slowly.
She takes off your clothes, and the next thing you know, you’re greased up like a country pig, down South on Thanksgiving. To add insult to injury, she goes back to the kitchen, returns with a spoon, puts some of the stuff from “the jar” on the spoon and sticks it in your mouth.
The next morning, you’re back in school, your mom is back at work and your grandmother is saying, “I told you.”
This is the season for cold and flu. What has made this season even worse is the craziness of the weather pattern. One day it’s 60 the next day it’s six, forcing us to keep changing our clothes with the changes of the weather. Everybody at the office is sick. Everybody at the daycare is sick. You can’t go anywhere where there isn’t somebody sick.
The cold section in the pharmacy is a virtual maze of choice. There are some 10 companies and each of them has 15 products for the same thing. You stand there blowing your nose, wondering if you should get the sneezing, coughing, soar throat, can’t sleep at night medicine or the can’t sleep at night, soar throat, coughing, sneezing medicine.
Finally, last month when I had my cold and now this week again, I think I’ve figured out what these companies are trying to do. They’re all on a quest to emulate the contents of the stuff in “the jar.” But the contents have never been revealed. If so, the shelves would have only one product, “The Jar.” It wouldn’t have a label, but everybody would know what it was and what it’s for.
For now, we suffer with modern medicine.
With the exception of those of you who may be in procession of “the jar.” I don’t know how you get it; somehow it just shows up in the cabinet. The only time you hear about it is when your grandmother makes the call. It’s like it doesn’t appear until she gives the OK.
Each time I get sick, I pray for the appearance of “the jar.” I know it’s out there.
For those of you who are still fortunate to have a grandmother in your life, please share her with a friend. Share her with a neighbor; share her with a coworker. Share her with the schools and daycares.
I don’t know if this is against the rules or not. However, we have to try something to get rid of all these viruses and colds this season.
The “jar” may be our only hope.