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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
Panic Was on the House


A severe battle with asthma may have been what caused Zona to have an appreciation for life. It was like she was racing with herself trying to get as much out of living as she could. At times her breathing was so difficult it could be heard throughout the house. Even when there was no attack a slight wheezing made a person aware of her asthma if they happened to be standing close to her. Now, her son, Lee was developing the same malady and it was with sadness that Zona watched her youngest son struggling with it.

Panic was on the house now and it was if everything was frozen in a state of dread and fear for the person suffering from an attack. Would they be able to continue with their struggle to simply breathe life-giving air? One rasping breath followed another. There was that anxiety upon the person’s face who was desperately wishing to survive, too. This was what the person’s loved one had to suffer while they knew there was no way they could help.

“John! John! Please hurry! Please?” Zona shook her husband. She had already been awakened by her son’s sobbing while he gasped for air. “I’ve got to have some mullein.” Zona begged John while waking him.

Quickly, John was up and fumbling around in the cabinets, looking for the herbs she had dried and stored in Mason jars. He peered sleepily at the jars. The soft, furry leaves of the mullein plants were easy to identify because even after they were dried their appearance was different from others. John reached up and pulled the container off its shelf. The weed-herb he put into the palm of one hand and used his thumb to grind the brittle leaves much as someone would use a mortar and pestle. He ground them to the consistency of tobacco. Out of his Prince Albert can he took the thin papers used for rolling cowboy cigarettes. John smoked a pipe and Zona did not smoke so these were always available. The ground up mullein leaves he scattered across one of the papers, rolled it into a cylinder and twisted one end of it to hold the small particles in the cigarette. After he lit it, the mullein cigarette was handed to Zona. She drew on it and then blew the smoke into the face and mouth of her son. Almost immediately the gasping and sobbing began to subside and he breathed easily. Zona then massaged an oil in which herbs had been infused on the boy’s chest, legs and arms. It was an oil given to her by the Osage women.

“The doc says it is the dust, ragweed and maybe even the dampness of the creek that is causing it.”

John made no comment but he knew there were decisions he had to make if they wanted their little son to live.

Authors comment:
‘In those days when the doctor had to use his wits to help his patients he often would learn a remedy. The healer often had to refine the herb, bottle it in a respectable presentation and have it on hand. How well the people survived and endured could be because of a doctor who was an individual with rare intelligence. Many of the healing practices we now enjoy came from one of these early day, inventions. Some of the stories of these practices are interesting and should be recorded by that doctor’s family who knew about his methods and treatments.’


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