I had a spare grandma. She was a friend of my maternal grandmother because their families crisscrossed somehow. (I once knew the specifics but I forgot long ago). It so happened that Lola Gaines and her husband Henry lived in Liberty, MO the same time I attended college at William Jewell there. They were the best homesick remedy around. Sometimes they picked me up before church, sometimes after. Either way the visit didn’t end until I enjoyed a homecooked meal and a little bit of time at their mysterious, ornate antique pump organ tucked into a guest bedroom.
That spare bedroom became my personal infirmary. Mrs. Gaines and my Grandma Tom both had similar not-so-tasty treatments for all sorts of ailments. Taste is no matter when the remedies work. During a particularly lengthy battle with a head cold, I was whisked away midweek, covered with Vicks, persuaded to down some yucky concoctions and tucked tightly under warm quilts. In a couple of days I was good as new, anxious to play a few old hymns on the organ before heading back to the dorm. Sometimes Lola would sing along. What a gift!
Henry and Lola moved to Doniphan upon Henry’s retirement from trucking. Lola spent most of the years afterward as a widow. She became a special friend sharing remedies for the soul via Bible verses and songs when I no longer needed her healing hand. She came to mind in the middle of last night when I was downing some of my own medicinal potions almost as untasty as hers. Thank goodness they worked. I was about to dig out the Vicks.