"Gargle with whiskey... keeps the germs away." A statement once offered to me while in conversation with my granny a few years ago when I had a sore throat. I'll never forget some of the witty things she shared with me through my life growing up on our family ranch in Southern Alberta. We would spend much time together at her house in Pincher Creek while I was little and even more time up at my family's little cabin in the hills near the Rocky Mountains. A place that she and my grandpa built together and fostered a great spirit of pioneerism. From chopping wood for the two wood stoves, walking to the well to haul water for drinking and washing, stocking the pond with rainbow trout that we would fish out every summer... and even maintaining the little outhouse that you had to walk over 100 yards through the trees to get to; but it was a biffy with a billion dollar view of the mountains beyond.
There was a time, when I was very young, and afternoon naps were mandatory for us little people. You may not take me as a person that would be a bit of a brat, but I was a bit obstinate when it came time to stop playing and hit the hay in the afternoon. My granny would come and gather me up, wash my face and hands and lead me to the spare room in her home. She'd pull back the top of the bedspread (very popular in those in those days) and read me a little story and then say it's time to sleep. I wasn't tired and wanted to play more, but she insisted that I just lay there and rest... even if I couldn't sleep. "Shut your eyes and rest." And true to being a playful little person, the tired little body soon drifted off to sleep. I was always amazing at her wisdom... how did she know that if I just rested, eventually I would sleep. Grannies... looking after kids wasn't their first time to the rodeo.
I remember a coming-of-age moment when I was about 16 years old and my granny and I were doing a spring cleaning of the cabin. After cleaning out the little cupboard under the sink where some of the liquor was stashed, she noted there wasn't enough left in a couple of bottles to warrant putting back, and if I'd prefer Peach Schnapps or vodka? I was taken aback for a moment hearing this question from her, and I promptly replied "Peach Schnapps please!" We sat after our work was done and sipped and chatted about the fresh and clean state of the cabin and that we might go fishing afterwards and catch some lunch. Remembering these moments of a time shared with a women, now as we enter 2017 she will be 101 years of age, brings me back to remembering simpler times, familiar times and times that impacted the rest of my life.
Today she is alive and kicking and still enjoys a sip of vodka now and then - maybe that's her secret to longevity - something that felt like a secret shared only between a wise woman and her grandson. I learned things about her life that one could only learn by taking the time to sit and visit and cast a line or two into the pond on warm summer days. I don't get home that much any more but the memories of those days visit me often and I feel a little homesick, but also a sense of accomplishment that I was inspired and learned so much from someone that offered me my first drink at a pivotal point in my growing up. Sharing with me that when you do gargle with whisky... "don't spit it out, let it do it's work all the way down." Learning that the simple things, the do less things, don't have to be a lot of effort. We only need to sit and connect with other fellow human beings and be open to learn a lifetime of knowledge and a few little secret gems along the way.
Love, gratitude and deep appreciation for you Granny Dorothy ...sip it slow and let the worries go.