“I got bit by the booster,” I texted my boss the Mayor when I asked to be excused from her staff meeting. I had put off getting my Covid-19 booster vaccination (shot #3) because I missed two days of work each with the first two shots, with fever, aches, and chills. (My aged parents had no adverse reaction to any of their Covid shots!) Knowing I might get sick, I needed to plan around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Steven’s visit in early December, Laura’s visit in mid-December for Caleb’s wedding, and Jeanette’s post-Christmas visit, not to mention weekly City Council meetings. I thought I had escaped an adverse reaction this time, but that night I went to bed with chills and aches, and was too ill to work the next day. Mom brought me a cup of hot black tea when she realized I had not gone to work. Now, you have to understand why this surprised me. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we live by the “Word of Wisdom,” a God-inspired code of health, in which we abstain from all alcohol, coffee, black and green teas, tobacco, and illicit drugs, including marijuana. Living by this Word of Wisdom is a prerequisite to qualification for entering the sacred Church temples. “Is this black tea?” I asked her when she brought the glass to my bedside. “Tea is good for upset stomachs,” she answered. “And when you’re sick.” I sipped at the medicinal tea until the glass was empty. Dad told me that in his day black tea was a ubiquitous home remedy for illness, including the flu and stomach upsets. Mom recounted how as a young woman, before she married Dad in 1962, she worked as an elevator girl in the Medical Arts building downtown Salt Lake City. In her generation, employees operated the elevators. Persons entering the elevator indicated what floor they needed. Mom closed the telescoping door, which also closed the electrical circuit for elevator operation, then used a lever to raise or lower the elevator to the desired floors—there were no buttons for floor selection. She took care to stop the elevator at just the right spot to match the level of the floor. On occasion she had to say, “Please be careful as you step down,” or “Watch your step up,” when she overshot or undershot the floor. Her first day on the job, the repeated rising and falling motions nauseated her, and she vomited in the elevator. “Don’t worry about it,” reassured the kind janitor. “I’ll mop it up.” And he brought her a cup of hot black tea to calm her stomach, and her nerves. Thereafter, she drank tea every day she worked as an elevator girl. In my post-vaccination doldrums, I dutifully drank Mom’s tea, appreciating the kind gesture, and understanding that tea was the common home remedy of her era. And I felt grateful for it, the Word of Wisdom notwithstanding.
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