Friday, May 16, 2014

The Medicine

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 life.

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 his medicine?

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 for itself.

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.

What's your "medicine;" if you care or dare to share?

Other thoughts?


joeh said...


Abby said...

I've heard that we would be surprised at the number of people on prescription antidepressants. Mom's sneaking their kids' ADD meds??

In my opinion, our mindset has a major effect on our health and moods, but that doesn't mean I've mastered mine!

I admit to drinking both coffee and tea on a daily basis and have done so since high school. I try to drink a glass of red win everyday, but sometimes I fall onto the wagon. Since I live in the land of legal pot, I might be wasting some of my residency perks.

Abby said...

I'm not drunk or high, I swear.

Margie said...

Hi Anita
You should come to my house, I have a large assortment of many kinds of teas and very often I have the tea in my English bone china cups.(I have a lovely collection )
I guess tea is my medicine like it's yours.
Once in a while I'll have coffee but much prefer my tea.

Barb said...

Anita, We are a nation that loves the quick feel-good fix: sometimes self administered and often pharmaceutically prescribed by doctors. I am alert to that tendency in myself, but definitely have not given up my tea, wine (my heart after all!), occasional coffee, and supplements which I tell myself will keep me healthy so I don't need stronger meds. Even the internet can be like a drug - if you let it. We all have our favorite "medicines" to help us through the day (or night)!

Linda said...

A good, old fashioned, homemade chicken soup! A cup of tea is a great comfort for me, too. Great post, dear Anita, thank you so much for sharing.

Tabor said...

It used to be coffee in the morning...but I switched to decaf a few months ago since my blood pressure seemed to be a little I still get the pleasure of the flavor but no jolt. I do have a glass (sometimes two) of wine most evenings before and during dinner. Then there is almost ALWAYS that piece of chocolate in the evening!

Hilary said...

I have a few, it would seem. I do love my coffee or tea - at least once a day, though almost never more than two cups. I enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer most days. An occasional toke (nope, not legal here.. yet... shhh!). Benedryl when my mind is racing and I must be up early the next day.. a few times a year. And I think that Barb hit on another one for sure.. the online medicine which can alleviate many ails for some. Loneliness comes to mind most readily.

I know those that do refer to alcohol as medicine.. and it's not in single shot doses either. We all have our crutches/aids/medicines. If we're lucky, they don't control us or do us harm.

As always, Anita.. you give much food for thought.. addictive or otherwise. :)

ShadowRun300 said...

Coffee is my medicine of choice in the morning. Just hearing the beep of the coffee maker when it's done percolating is enough to bring me to life.
But probably more addicting is my "ice cream" medicine. At the end of every day, especially stressful days, a bowl of ice cream helps me to relax. Maybe not as healthy as red wine, but the effects are eerily similar.

Rob-bear said...

These are very interesting questions, Anita.

My medicines include duloxetine and wellbutrin for both depression and chronic pain management. I have a specialist who helps me with these problems, and those are the things she prescribes.

I've lived with chronic depression since my teens, and suffered a number of injuries (particularly back in the days I was a firefighter). Some of those "misadventures" have come back to haunt me in my more senior years. I have tried using rum for pain management, but find it is not effective. So I quit that.

We live in a world of "future shock" (as Alvin Toffler described it). There are so many changes happening that we don't have time to adjust to one change before another one hits us. So many develop Chronic Adjustment Disorder. Not fun.

Not much of a coffee drinker, but I enjoy a cup of tea during the day. But that's far from being a "medicine."

Rob-bear said...

P.S.: Blessings and Bear hugs!

Bryan Jones said...

Coffee, tea, beer, wine, port and watching football (the English variety). Guess I'm a multi-junkie!

Simone said...

Oh Anita how I've missed you! I have been away far too long from blogging and visiting blogs..especially yours. You and I are on the same wave length because recently, I was thinking about how we often search for the "all better" feeling. Most of the time, true life isn't feeling perfectly normal but we try to drown that "abnormal" feeling. Sometimes, it's okay not to feel 100% and in fact, I don't think there is such a thing any more. Since two years ago and having medical issues, I've learned that most of my "good" days are not days that I am pain free but that I enjoy the day in spite of it. I agree that not everything needs to be vanished. We are not in a perfect world so we'll never feel perfect. But, in the meantime, I have both coffee and tea to enjoy throughout the day! I've been taking a large thermos with me to work of Green Jasmine tea and I drink that throughout the day but start my day with a cup of coffee.

Shelly said...

What a great post, and such terrific writing! My medicine is working out. Some people have told me I am addicted to it, but I say better to it than alcohol or something else harmful.

P.S.- I LOVED the post card!!! Thank you for such a wonderful surprise!

Karen said...

Coffee, is definitely my poison. Honestly, it's what gets me out of bed in the morning, just thinking of the aroma and the strong, sweet and creamy brew. I also enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, but I'm not nearly as faithful to that routine as my coffee.

We do seem to live in a society with a lot of dependencies. I suppose our grandparents were too busy doing and too tired at the end of the day.

Linda Hensley said...

Tea, sugar, chocolate, Pepsi... did I mention sugar? I have cut back my caffeine by making 1/2 decaf tea, 1/2 regular. Obviously I'm not very interested in depressants like pot or Benedryl. In a perfect world we'd all get the right amount of exercise and meditation, but that just doesn't seem to happen for anyone these days?

Mage said...

Oh, chocolate. Oh, guilt. Cheeses too. I used to drink. I used to be an old style speed freak. Now days I have one cup of coffee in the mornings, and on cold days a cup of tea around 4ish. I do so hope to keep life moving in a good direction these days. :)

Mage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TexWisGirl said...

i do need my coffee in the mornings. and i have 1-2 glasses of wine with my dinner - or a gin and tonic if the weather is hot. :)

my father was a 'weekend alcoholic' - if he had money, he was drinking. thankfully, i appreciate alcohol for flavor, relaxation, meal compliment, but do not like getting drunk. i don't do illegal (or legal) drugs. but have to have some sweets now and again. :)

yonca said...

Ohhh, i likes both..tea and coffee but for a start i love my coffee early 6 son's service bus arrives likes 7 am..i am a morning person. Starbucks-yes! :) Drivetrough- a great invention!! Makes life easier :) Have a wonderful Sunday,Anıta!

Hilary said...

I didn't start drinking coffee until after my first child was born. I didn't start drinking wine until after the second ;) I enjoy how coffee tastes and the ritual of socialization that goes along with it. I'm not really sure I believe that it gives me energy to make it through my day. There was a time that I used it as an appetite suppressant. Now, I'll fill up on water. As for wine, I have a glass with dinner, maybe a second glass later. It's my vice, along with chocolate, but I won't disintegrate if I don't have it. I exercise daily and would consider that the best medicine.

Rebecca S. said...

My 'medicine' as you put it is a cup of coffee in the morning, made in a French press from freshly ground Fair Trade organic beans (yes, I am one of those, but long ago I discovered that other types gave me the jitters) and caffeinated tea in the afternoon. Herbal tea in the evening to keep me from snacking, and I limit alcohol generally to the weekend when I treat myself with a Gin and Tonic or glass of wine or beer. These little lifts, treats, comforts are markers of time and routine for me.
My children are all into tea, except my eldest who inherited my love of coffee, which does have that amazing 'clearing of the cobwebs' capability!
I am very aware of the strain on the liver and kidneys that pain relief meds and prescription drugs and excessive alcohol cause and for that reason, among others, I keep a lid on my consumption of these things.
There is so much more I could say on this subject, especially when it comes to people like your Dad, managing life after combat. I truly sympathise. I have less patience for people who use presciption meds to mask the effects of avoidance in dealing with their lives and/or bad choices.

Jenny said...

Wow. This is powerfully written.

It definitely makes me think!

I don't drink, but I think my medicine is probably Grandkids and baked goods!

Not sure of the order, though!

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Linda said...

My medicine is usually any of the following: homemade chicken soup, ginger, garlic, herbal tea. I don't like over the counter remedies for colds and flu! I never use them. They can have side effects that can be harmful, especially if you are on prescription meds, so it is always safer to stick with food.

SuziCate said...

It depends on the time of day. Coffee in the morning, hot tea on cold days, and sometimes a glass of wine. My problem is they are not "comfort" unless served in proper glassware...ha, I know that sounds snooty, but try to serve it in a paper cup and the comfort disappears!