and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation


Barbara's Column
December  2003 #1

Holiday in sick bay isn't all bad
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, December 11, 2003

When an activist is actin',
she just has to be didactin,'
So if I have a choice;
Let the scarecrow, tinman, lion
Have the brain, the heart, and courage.
If I only have a voice....

In a way it's relaxing. The phone rings and my caller ID tells me to whom I cannot respond. 

I'm invited to be a talking head or talk show guest, but my head can't talk, so I lie in bed and observe other people's brains in action.

Chip courageously braves the storm with his new snowthrower, which I bought us as my share of the division of labor. Once I pay the credit card bill, I never have to do anything again, while he muscles the new toy around the yard every winter for the rest of our lives.

Not that he would trust me with this dangerous piece of equipment. But I know that he won't stick his hand in to unclog it. Thank you, Mr. Wizard, for giving Chip a brain. What is it with these people in the emergency rooms with their fingers missing?

It is also Chip's job to organize the cars, trucks, vans and boats in our vacant side yard, which isn't easy considering we really don't know where many of them came from; they just arrive and go on a seasonal basis. One of the vans, though, belongs to our neighbor, Betty Brown, Marblehead's former town clerk; and when she learns that I am sick, she brings not chicken soup but an entire chicken dinner, with stuffing and squash! Now there's a woman with a heart.

Even when you have a sore throat from coughing, you need something more substantial than frozen yogurt and ice cream. I've lost 15 pounds this month eating just chicken and frozen things. Is this what they call the Atkins diet? For the first time in my life I don't want pasta.

As they say, be careful what you wish for. I was in Nevada, visiting my son and twin grandchildren, with nothing to complain about but the extra weight I'd put on lately and, next thing you know, I'm sneezing, coughing, and unable to eat.

For some reason I assumed that my son's family would have the same "sick care" traditions that I'd received from my parents and thought I'd passed on - milk toast, gingerale, and chicken soup. But now my son tells me that the sight of butter floating in milk makes him sicker, and his vegetarian/low-sugar family doesn't keep chicken soup or gingerale in the pantry.

Does your family do milk toast? (Recipe: Toast white bread, butter, put in special "sick-folks-only" bowl and add warm milk). I find it's one of those things people either love or hate. 

Many years ago, I was walking down the street in Rockport when I ran into Baird Waring and his daughter. They were on their way to visit his father, Lloyd Waring, a wealthy donor to Republican and taxpayer causes whom Baird thought I should meet. 

When we arrived at the elegant home on the ocean, Mr. Waring was about to make himself his traditional Sunday lunch of milk toast, which his family never shared because they couldn't look at the butter floating in the warm milk. He was delighted to have someone to eat with, and we sat at the counter in a gorgeous big kitchen mushing the toast and talking politics while the kids amused themselves in the pool room.

This was back when I could talk, of course.

Anyhow, my son and daughter-in-law took good care of me: they went out and got canned chicken soup, those wonderful Minutemaid fruit juice triangles that don't make you chew on a wooden Popsicle stick to get your coldzies, and a ginger beer with a bit of a kick.

But as Dorothy says, there's no place like home, so I declined their kind offer to keep me until I was well. We went to a local clinic that gave me antibiotics and an inhaler - just enough relief to get me on a plane to Boston.

I probably caught the bronchitis on the flight out and hoped the antibiotics meant I wouldn't now pass it on to the rest of the eastbound passengers. Because it was past the Thanksgiving period, I had a whole row to myself, which was good because I cried through most of the in-flight movie. Guess I have a heart after all. 

This review is my holiday gift to you: Go to a theater, get the video or DVD, take an eastbound flight on Delta during December, but do not miss "Seabiscuit" - a movie overflowing with brain, heart, and courage.

Guess a voice isn't the most important attribute after all.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.

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