“Good Medicine,” July 5, 2022

Once upon a time, generations of families lived close enough to gather for Sunday dinner, help raise the little ones, look after the old ones, bear each other’s burdens and, despite their differences, try to get along.

Or so it was with the family that raised me. My mother and her eight sisters loved each other dearly. They sang in harmony on the porch with the voices of angels, and always had each other’s backs. But, at times, they fought like badgers.

I think of them often, always with a smile, especially when I hear Paul Thorn sing, “I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love.”

My parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and dozens of cousins were not just my family. They were my world. And I was sure they always would be.

But as my generation grew up, jobs and marriage and life in general pulled us in different directions. Many of my cousins stayed in the South. But some of us moved far away _ too far to show up for Sunday dinner.

I married and raised my children in California of All Places. Money was tight. Travel was costly. Family get-togethers were replaced with once-a-week phone calls and face-to-face visits every few years.

My mother longed to know my children the same way she knew her other grandchildren. She wanted to look in their eyes, hear their laughter and nuzzle the backs of their sweaty necks.

The best I could do was to send photos. It wasn’t easy. I had to (1) find the camera; (2) clean up the kids; (3) make them pose; (4) take the film to the drug store to be developed; (5) go back to pick up the prints; (6) pick out the least fuzzy pics and (7) put them in the mail.

My mother never cared about the quality of the photos I sent. It was good medicine, she said, just to see those fuzzy faces.

I often hear from readers and other friends who long to live closer to their families, and try their best to stay in touch.

My husband and I share five children, their partners and nine grandchildren. His two boys and their families live a few hours from us. My daughter and younger son and their families are only minutes away.

But my oldest and his family live near Los Angeles, a long five-hour drive. So our visits are often limited to FaceTime calls. Their son Jonah is 3 years old. A year ago, when his baby sister was born, I spent a month at their house pretending to help, but mostly playing with Jonah.

We got to be good buddies, Jonah and I. And we still are, thanks to our FaceTime talks. Recently he called to tell me about what he calls their new “castle house.” It’s really nice, he said, and it has a big room for me.

“Will you come see us, Nana?”

“Yes,” I said, “soon as I can.”

We talked about other things, birds and monsters and such. But Jonah kept asking, “When will you come see us, Nana?”

Finally, I said, “I can’t come right now. I have a bad cold and I don’t want to give it to you.”

His face lit up, the way it does when he gets a bright idea.

“Come now!” he said. “We’ll take you to a doctor! Doctors are really good at fixing people!”

I tried not to laugh. “Yes,” I said, “doctors are good at fixing people. But so are you. Just to see your face is good medicine for me. Are you a doctor?”

He thought about it. Then his face lit up again. “Yes!” he said, laughing, “I’m Dr. Jonah!”

We heard a deep voice in the background and Jonah shouted, “Daddy’s home! I’ve got to go see him! Love you, Nana! Bye!”

And with that, Dr. Jonah ran off to fix his next patient. And I went to the kitchen where my husband was fixing dinner.

“How’s your cold?” he asked.

“Better,” I said, grinning.

Face-to-face medicine is good for any ailment. But I hope to visit Jonah in person soon. Our FaceTime calls let me look in his eyes and hear his laugh. But I still long to nuzzle his neck.



    Well done Dr. Sharon

  2. Kate Sciacca says

    I was blessed to spend four days nuzzling necks and getting powerful hugs. Nothing better than having all your grandkids asking if you can “stay a bit longer?” No doctors in my gang, but two ballerinas who performed several Nutcracker dances for me. Clara (4) and Abby (9) are, I am certain, the finest ballerinas in the county. I pray you will soon head down the state for that appointment…. Screens just don’t quite do it 😉

  3. Kay Smith says

    Love reading your stories! My grandchildren live 3 hours for three of them and 12 -13 for the other one. I was so good about writing a letter once a week until we started a kitchen remodel and I couldn’t get to my computer and when I could, it wasn’t working right. Luckily we sat by an IT guy at a Lion’s Club installation and I am back in business! You have a Jonah and I have a Noah! Noah’s dad is a doctor! Thanks for sharing with us!

  4. Your articles always make me smile and touch my heart. Thank you

  5. Wonderful! Love this piece. Yes, my Skylight gift allows me instant pics from over the internet from my kids & Grandkids! Love seeing those precious faces & getting surprised with new pics arriving. Family is different now than when I grew up. But, couldn’t Love them anymore than I do…near or far! ThankS, Sharon

  6. Brenda W McAbee says

    I have an actual Dr 👨🏻‍⚕️ Jonah. And that’s what patients call him. Lol
    Always enjoy reading your column, Sharon.
    Brenda Weaver McAbee
    Classmate. (elementary and high school)

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