Tea and Coughing

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

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Tea and Coughing

Ever since I was a little girl, when I got sick, I coughed. I coughed deeply, richly, commandingly, and aggressively . . . so hard that I felt its vibrations, from my throat up to my temples and from my throat radiating down my upper arms all the way to my elbows, and often reaching my solar plexus. Sometimes I even felt it marathon all the way down my legs.

I coughed profoundly and harshly, often producing, well, you know, colored spit. Phlegm it was called. Not sure which word is more gross, phlegm or spit. Other times, I just hacked away without any product, sounding like a saw. This coughing played havoc with the skin on my throat, so that it soon became raw and tender.

After each coughing "stanza," I would sigh deeply and moan a little, weakened from the experience but wanting to verbalize it in some way. Cough syrups' effect was short-lived and I swigged it right from the bottle instead of bothering with the tablespoon's meager measure; I used it as needed, rather than by schedule.

One time, according to my personal diagnosis, I dislodged an early pregnancy with the gargantuan strength and herculean power of my coughing-- so far-reaching and powerful was its influence. Coughing, like other symptoms of illness, is usually worse at night. When I was a child, held captive in the clutches of an unfriendly cold or frequently visiting bronchitis, I would awake in the nocturnal dark: coughing, wheezing, sighing, and moaning. Always in that order.

On those occasions, my mother would get up out of her warm bed, go downstairs to the kitchen, and perform the nurturing act of making me some tea. Now my mother was not a tea drinker and didn't like the taste; thus, we did not keep tea leaves or tea bags in the house. So what she did was pour boiling water into a waiting cup, where a generous teaspoon or two of grape jelly sat waiting. That gave the hot liquid brew some color as well as sweetness. She brought it upstairs to me and sat on the side of my bed as we waited together for it to cool. My coughing abated for awhile after a cup of "tea," and I could go back to sleep.

Even now, when I think of "tea," especially when I am sick, my first vision is purple liquid in a white, bone china teacup on a matching saucer, steaming sweetly: the symbol of treatment and of my mother's devotion to me.

Any of your kid memories come to mind ? How about a childhood illness, serious or not so serious? A parental influence that lasted from childhood into adulthood?

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