A Cure For What Ails Us

Leave the Band-Aid on for a little longer, the woman said to me. Excuse me? Again, adamant, she instructed me to leave the Band-Aid on the small cut on my finger. I didn’t know this woman, but we were in the first-aid aisle of the drug store when she heard me asking a clerk for a specific liquid bandage that I prefer to use over the regular plastic Band-Aids.

I did not solicit this stranger’s advice but she insisted a good, old Band-Aid was best. We struck up a conversation while she perused the shelves for poison ivy rash cream. She was older than me and her eyes said there was more sadness to her life than just an irritating skin complaint.

While we chatted about the various ointments and even some homemade remedies to ease our various first-aid issues, we both laughed at how, when we were kids, our mothers told us to blow on a cut finger – while they applied that orangish-red merthiolate – because it stung like the dickens. She said it was just a ploy to distract us from our pain. I agreed.

That awful smelling stuff turned the skin orange and hurt more than it helped but it made you believe you were doing the right thing. Now merthiolate is no longer available in its old form because health officials said it contained mercury and that’s not good for us.

Forgetting our minor cuts and rashes, we talked, too, about Vicks Vaporub – many a mother’s cure-all for coughs and colds. We lamented the medicinal smell that stayed with you for days even after you were “cured.”

But, back to the Band-Aid. I asked the woman why she insisted that I leave the Band-Aid on my finger. She said most people want instant cures and do not take the time to properly care for their bumps and bruises or a little cut on a finger. She was quite vocal about it.

And then she let the other shoe drop. Her brother had been in Vietnam and a “little infection” took his life before he could come home. She said he was a wonderful young man, strong and proud to serve his country.

We’re lucky to live in a country today where we don’t have to worry so much about the little things killing us. We have clean water, decent food supplies and good people ready to patch us up when we fall down.

It’s a good weekend – Memorial Day Weekend – to remind ourselves of all that we have and remember those who gave their lives so that we can live the way we do. Even through the struggles of life today, no one can take away our ability to walk out our front doors and hoist an American flag as a way of saying thank you to those who bear arms for us.

It might just be the cure we need right now.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at ziegler@theintelligencer.net.