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