By Elizabeth Van Liere
When I was a child and a sore throat hit, my mom always knew what to do: “Get me one of your dad’s white cotton socks,” she would say. She would soak it in salt water, wring it out, wind it around my neck, and pin a woolen sock over it. As an added plus, she rubbed yucky, strong-smelling Vicks on my chest.
The next morning my throat would no longer hurt. Whenever my throat said, “Ouch,” I knew what was coming: Mom’s special remedy.
Mom had lots of remedies—both for physical and emotional wounds.
Learning to Spell
She had a great cure-all whenever I faced an upcoming spelling test. With a list in hand, I’d moan, “Mom, look at these words. I’ll never remember how to spell them all.”
Mom just smiled. “I’ll say the words. You spell them.” Her middle name must have been Patience because she stretched the list out, word by word. If I misspelled one, she would repeat it until I spelled the word correctly.
Finally she would say, “Now put the list under your pillow. You’ll do fine tomorrow.”
As I slept my worries faded away, and the next day I would invariably pass the test with an A. With her help and her confidence in me, I gained the needed assurance to pass the test.
A different need came along. Sore legs, “growing pains” she called them, became my specialty. I’d wake up during the night and stagger to my parents’ bedroom. Mom would yawn, pull back the blankets, and let me in. A quick leg rub and a warm spot put me back to sleep.
When my Dad woke up in the morning, there I’d be, curled up between him and Mom. “You again?” he’d say with a grin.
More Growing Pains
Ah, Mom. Such a healer—like the times a cheerful youngster turned into a moody teen. I’d sit and groan and hold an elaborate pity party. She would ignore my misery and say, “Why don’t you get your bike and ride to the library.” (I wonder now if this was Mom’s way to get me and my griping out of the house.)
One or two hours later, with two or three books in my bike basket, I’d return—refreshed, renewed, and normal once again. Peace and quiet would rule in the house while I dug into one of the books.
Still More Growing to Do
During that same period the awful “I hate the way I look” days arrived. My friends had bouncy curly hair. Mine fell straight down. Their complexions drew admiration. Mine needed help for the dreaded pimples that popped out at the wrong times. Their profiles were angelic. Mine showed a nose with a bump in the middle.
“I hate the way I look,” I told my mother.
In Dutch—her language—she would say, “You have a dear, sweet face.”
Nothing changed. I still had straight hair, a complexion that needed help, and the nasty nose bump. I didn’t really believe her, but her words made me smile.
The Best Remedy
As I look back on Mom’s home remedies, I think the best one of all was a plain, old, everyday one. You can’t get it out of a garden like an herb or slip it under your pillow. Healing warmth is found in acceptance and the need to be alone at times. It comes through mutual understanding. And through the years, the importance of outer looks fade because you want the inside beauty your mother had.
Hers was a simple remedy—spelled L-O-V-E.
Elizabeth Van Liere, age 90, loves God more each day.
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