When I was little and got sick, no matter what the doctor prescribed, it was my mother's antidote that made me feel better: a Pepsi with crushed ice.
When I was sooo sick I couldn't do anything but lie on our sofa and watch TV, I listened while Mama fixed it for me. Back in the day before ice makers were a standard refrigerator feature, we had the old countertop version. Clumsy and loud, it sounded more like a kitchen demolition than a beverage under construction. The crunch and clatter were a happy kitchen commotion and I knew the end result was my sweet and syrupy drink over slivers of ice.
Usually my drink was accompanied by a cool washcloth; if I was sick enough for a Coke then I was probably running a fever. Sometimes, it even had a bendy-straw; and always, always, TLC was administered: soothing words, a gentle back rub, and that furrowed brow of concern that told me Mama would trade places with me in a skinny minute if she could.
Mothers are born with healing…sometimes in their touch, but sometimes just in the way they look at you.
When I was seven months pregnant with my youngest, I had pneumonia. Coughing up a lung when a baby has taken up residence is not pleasant. Vivid is the memory that wet, cold February evening of sitting on the FLOOR of CVS BECAUSE NO ONE WOULD GIVE UP A CHAIR TO THE PREGNANT LADY WHO WAS MISERABLE AND PHLEGMY AND HAD TEARS BRIMMING HER EYES but my husband knew what to do. When he had to go to work the next day, he called one of my best friends and asked her to bring me a Pepsi.
Isabel came quickly and knew to serve it over crushed ice.
I think I felt better, but I know I felt loved.
When my own babies had an upset tummy or the Dreaded EpizudICKs, I'd offer them this chilled remedy in a glass. I learned first by observation a lifetime ago, and then by doing, that a mother's Proper Bedside Manor is magic!
Was it ever about the Pepsi or cool washcloth or softly-spoken words? Or was it mostly about administering an invisible love-balm that transcends traditional medicine and does a body the most good of all?
Something kinda wonderful happened over the past week: I got sick. Though eventually testing negative for Swine Flu and Strep (I had been exposed to both), I felt AWFUL–fever, chills, relentless headache, nasty cough, achy and plain tired. For a few days, I was One with my bed. My family kept checking on me, because it's universal to want to DO something when someone you love is sick, and the second-best thing that happened was my husband brought me breakfast in bed one morning.
But the best thing?
My daughter brought me a Coke. With crushed ice. And a bendy straw. And I felt better.
Proving two things:
- Pavlov was right.
- Children learn by example.
And though I wasn't instantly healed, I felt much better following the gesture. I smiled at the thought of my daughter doing for me what my mother once had…and knowing one day she would do the same for her children and think of me.
Maybe not medicine for the body, but definitely elixir for the soul.
Note: Though I'm sure it wouldn't please the manufacturers, Pepsi and Coke work pretty much the same in this equation…or even Sprite for that matter. It's all about a carbonated beverage full of sugar. Which is hardly good for anybody, but absolutely works wonders for me!!