Sometimes History Is Worth Repeating. The Ways Of The Past

This is a photo of my great-grandmother and my father prior to arriving in the United States.

This is a photo of my great-grandmother and my father prior to arriving in the United States.

I grew up in a very ethnic family. I am first generation in the U.S., on my father’s side. My father’s family arrived in New York City via ship in 1951, following World War II from eastern europe. Their final settling place was Cleveland. I was blessed and I mean blessed to live with my grandmother and great-grandmother until I was 8 years old. At which point my family build a house in Medina, Ohio. I didn’t realize until this morning how much I learned and remembered from my days of living with my great-grandmother.

This morning my youngest daughter woke up feeling ill, cold like symptoms. I quickly searched my mind to remember what I had in the house to make chicken soup. Everyone knows chicken soup cures everything, at least in my family. Ironically, yesterday, she opened the freezer and inquired about a container that look like it had “puke” in it. I calmly explained it was left over chicken broth I had from baking chicken breasts a few months ago. The broth had some chicken in it, veggies and garlic. Coming from an old world family, my natural instinct is to freeze that for soup. I threw a few aging carrots in it, added more both and two cups of rice. Like magic we have homemade chicken and rice soup for dinner.

Feeling pretty proud of a great mothering moment, I stopped to reflect on how I knew what to do. My mother and father always make chicken soup when we were sick. How did they know this? There is only one person to blame, my great grandma. We called her Grandma Jaklitsch, well, because that was her name. Actually, come to think of it, all the so-called, natural cures for disease and healthy living isn’t really new. It is new to us, living several generations in a world of processed foods and chemicals, we have no idea what can naturally help us. But to Gramdma Jaklitsch knew healthy living was just living. There was no other way. She must have known what she was doing too, because she lived to be 88 years old, in a time when medical advancements were not present.

Immigrating to this country when she was 51 years old, she brought with her all the knowledge of old world medicine. She was a wonderful cook. Not that you were going to stay lean eating, solid, homemade, meals of meat and potatoes, but you would stay healthy. She cooked with tons of fresh garlic, and onions. Every meal had four or five course. Most meals started with soup, salad, then vegetables, meat, a carb, fruit and them some kind of homemade, out of this world, dessert. The point is her meals included all the things you needed. But she used things like apple cider vinegar in her salad dressing, fresh garlic, and onions. If you felt sick she gave you chamomile tea, with honey. Food was never wasted. The scraps, like egg shells, coffee grounds, one would use in composting, she would literally throw out the back door into her garden. Her flower gardens were beautiful. My guess is because of great composting. Most healthy living tips I run across my grandmothers were doing. Mostly, because they grew up in a world that did not offer an alternative. The only difference today, is the healthy living suggests have explanation as to why natural healing works.

I find in raising a family I do intuitively what my Grandma Jaklitsch would do. My parents did those things and I do them as well. I do crazy things like freeze left over chicken broth for soup later. I make crazy hot tea medicines for sore throats. I toss egg shells and coffee grounds into my flower gardens. My husband doesn’t say much. He figures it is some kind of quirk of my family. Then later we learn that quirk actually had merit. I just did it, because grandma did.

Here’s to Grandma Jaklitsch. I was blessed to have her in my life for 20 years. I learned so much from her without even knowing it. There isn’t a day I don’t miss her or carry on her legacy of the old world ways. It is of great comfort that she is still with me. I look forward to the day I see her again.

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