He called it, "my medicine." Hot burning liquid in a wide flat bottle, slightly concave on one side; it was easy to grip, then pour, and drink. Often, it sat on the kitchen countertop beside the small shot glass, accessible for scheduled times of day. Sometimes I'd see him. I remember the sound of the top being unscrewed and the plop while pouring. He'd stand with one arm akimbo, bring the glass to his mouth with the other hand, throw back his head, swallow, and exhale through his mouth with a simultaneous, "Ahhhh."
Years later, Mom laughed as she told my brother how he
imitated Dad's ritual, proclaiming, "This is how you drink liquor."
My brother was a young boy then. I thought it was funny, too.
Dad also drank coffee, though I can't remember seeing him
make or drink it during those early childhood days. How I know is because of
the small, metal percolator that was on top of the stove. There was a basket inside and a glass knob on the
top; a contraption hardly used nowadays. Mom said she never drank coffee, so
Dad had to be the one using it.
What would Dad have been like without his coffee and his medicine? A World War II veteran born in
1921, he married at 31, later than most of his peers. As a husband and father,
he fit in with all the other dads in the neighborhood; working hard during the
weekdays to take care of his family, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and going to
church on Sunday – a typical family
Was the shot of whiskey typical, too? The Kent cigarettes? When did it begin? As a
poor teenaged boy in Norfolk, Virginia? As a young soldier in the Philippines?
Re-entering segregated civilian life in the United States? When did it become
My thoughts about "feel good" substances didn't
start with Dad. Instead, I began with the grateful feeling I had on a dark,
rainy day as I held a cup of English Tea in my hand; drinking and relishing the
heat that traveled from my mouth to my stomach, warming my body as I
anticipated the effects of the caffeine – a mind cleared of cobwebs and a boost
of energy. Ahhh Yes… love that late morning cup of tea – my medicine.
When did it begin, my love of tea? I don't remember;
probably like most people who don't remember when their love and dependence on
coffee began - America's favorite morning beverage. If coffee didn't give me jitters,
I'd be drinking it, too. My teenaged kids drink it. Starbucks, the drive-thru at McDonald's,
the Keurig brewer – all have
contributed to the inception of coffee in their lives, along with the influence
of their parents. If my husband treats himself to a coffee, he'll ask the girls
if they want one, too, which is usually a foo foo type. I, on the other
hand, have contributed to the normalcy
of other substances.
"You're still working on that project? Drink a cup of
tea; that might help you to stay awake."
"Here's a Benadryl.
It'll help with your allergies and stuffy nose. You'll sleep all night."
"You're feeling tense? Drink some hot Chamomile tea."
They are the next
generation of medicine takers.
Everyone seems to have their medicines that range from mild to destructive. We have our coffee
and tea to get us going; our 4 diet Cokes
during the day, our beer after work, our
wine for dinner. We eat our sweets, fats, and chips. According to recent news
reports, a handful of moms are swiping the kids' ADD medicine that they claim
aids in getting through the long list of things to do.
On the other side of the same coin, we take 15 vitamins and
herb supplements a day, we run until we run it
out, hit the gyms, and do other exercises or sports to the point of obsession.
Many say that these are better choices.
The illegal stuff – I don't know much about it and it speaks
While surfing the NET, I came across a woman who refuted
everyone's need for stimuli and/or sedatives. She recalled the life of her
grandmother; how she worked hard, ate well, and loved her family and friends,
and that that's all she needed. She suggested that we do the same.
"medicine;" if you care or dare to share?