The Medicine in Grandma’s Window


Long before I knew how to make herbal anti-biotics and pain relievers,  long before I could develop diabetes and thyroid medicines, and much longer before I knew that plants had any medicine at all, there was a plant that I knew could heal.  And it was in Grandma’s window.

Grandma’s house held such a fascination for me as a child.  It was the quintessential Grandma’s house (and still is) with coffee ever ready in little child sized white cups and cookies in the cookie jar.  The house smelled of cigarette smoke, soil, coffee, and perfume; an unforgettable combination that will forever remind me of sitting in her dining room looking at the bay window.  Her house was in Washington Park and was a tiny house when they moved in some fifty-seven years ago from this date shortly after my father was born.  They lived there for forty years before moving to their smaller house that my children now refer to as Grandma’s house.  Grandpa had added on rooms, and a loft, and the bay window, and a garage that was the hubbub of the men’s activity, full of every tool available and my Grandpa’s invention, the Brick Cleaning Machine.  The yard was full of roses and the back porch was perfect for listening to the overhead speakers playing Willie Nelson, drinking a cup of coffee, taking in the beauty of the roses, and pretending like I was grown up.  Grandma taught me to sew on a machine, how to crochet, how to cook an omelet, and how to be a fabulous Grandma that I will put to use this year.  I don’t want to leave Grandpa out, he is the perfect, most lovable Grandpa in the world.  Always ready to design us a house, or take us for a drive (the scenic route), or tell us stories of glory from his rodeo days.

Back to the window.  Her bay window was filled with plants of every sort (much like my indoor garden now, isn’t it?) and a terrarium that looked like a pig.  The cactus-like plant that was my first to know, for my mother kept one in the window as well, was the aloe vera plant.  Every time we would have a scrape or a burn a piece of the plant was broken off, its sticky interior dripping along, and placed on the wound.  Nearly immediately do wounds and burns heal up.  It is amazing.  The other night I misdirected my thumb into the grate in the oven at a rousing 450 degrees and promptly watched the skin bubble up in white fury.  I went to the aloe plant in my window and placed a piece on it.  It instantly cools and heals.

As an herbalist I understand the properties now: anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, specific to wounds and healing skin.  I hope that you have an Aloe Vera plant in your window too!