Jonah 4: 6 And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

Not too long ago, my brother and I were talking about my mother and her involvement in the health care of our local community. One could say that it would have been truly unavailable if it had not been for our town’s doctor who was the only Family Practitioner and pharmacist. We remember the smell of the sweet nothingness of his breath and the familiar sounds of hymns he whistled ever so softly. That unmistakable and lingering essence of the cool wind of his whistle as he examined us was as much a part of him as his mirrored headgear that glared off the reflected gooseneck lamp. This wonderful soul of a man made house calls after work and I can remember his revered attendance to my mother one flu season. He was lithe of build and always seemed to have the whitest clothes and shoes. His wife was his nurse and he hired many of the serious aspiring medical professionals including my sister as a student nurse and much later a cousin who was a family practice physician. He was far more forward thinking than the age. If there was a very serious case, the patient was sent either to the county hospital 20 miles away or 70 miles away to the state hospital for indigents no matter of ones insurance status or ability to pay.

In spite of his availability, there was a class of under served that is hard to imagine in today’s all inclusive healthcare. They were the invisible. This is where my mother came in. My grandmother had taught this lady with all of the advantages of her small town, home remedies. Often when these desperate people literally came running to our home with their sick steaming children wrapped in bed clothes, they were bathed in our bathtub and wrapped in Palma Christi leaves. Within minutes it seems these little ones were revived back to life. There were always screams of joy and praise when their fever broke and they became playful.

This plant hero with its broad ivy-like leaves grew along our fence line. It is also called the castor oil plant and is thought by some Bible commentators to be the same plant that refreshed Jonah after his ordeal with the big fish…presumably the whale. It is endemic in the Middle East, India, South America and Spain and is said to be fast growing with large leaves and touted to grow up from nowhere. Studies have shown that it has anti-inflammatory properties…think aspirin or Advil. Then, it was found to have antimicrobial (antibiotic) characteristics. It is a natural insecticide. Because of the Ricin (poisonous) properties, its seeds are thought to produce one of the most poisonous toxins in the world. Commercially, it is used to produce castor oil.

I cannot attribute any of these medicinal properties to the healing of these precious children, but I know that the parents had faith in the work of my mother’s hands. She was about her spiritual work of duty. I do know that many of these children grew up beside me and have become professional men and women. Psalm 100:5 (NIV) For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Happy 96th Birthday Mrs. B (9/22/16-6/14/11)