Vicks and Home

When I was little, I often suffered from upper respiratory infections. My ingenious mom had the perfect remedy which she called the "Chest Cloth." It was a cotton kitchen towel that was thoroughly coated with Vicks Vapor Rub then heated in the oven. She would pin it on my pajama top, so I could go to sleep with the warm, soothing aroma of Vicks. I was convinced then, as I am today, that there was/is mysterious healing power in that cloth, even though it was like cardboard when I awoke the next morning.

Even as an adult, during allergy season, I rubbed Vicks under my nose each night before bed. I readily admit some may think this strange, but not as strange as doing it all the time, as I've done the last few years regardless of whether it's allergy season or not. You might try out the mystical healing powers, but don't expect it to work unless you BELIEVE. I've often wondered whether in some countries it might be an effective female aphrodisiac, but sadly I have never been to nor heard of any such country.

One can imagine my excitement when I learned that Vicks was sold here in the Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp commissary. So even here in a federal prison, I can rub Vicks under my nose, pull the covers over my head and be home.

Home. Where is that? I'm honestly not sure just where that is for me right now. White collar crime can destroy your home. Certainly the place I called home and hoped would be home for a long time is gone. Certainly that house is gone, or at least sold and unrecognizably remodeled. But it's not unlike all the other 20 or so houses I've lived in. Everyone knows that a house is not necessarily a home.

Home can certainly be where your family is. It can be within a small group at church or sitting on a familiar couch with the right people and your dog. It can be with friends who stand by you when you really screw up big time. Most importantly, home can be any place where you put down roots.

While there is a wealth of wisdom to be found in every place and circumstance, roots are important. My roots are deep in the Mississippi River delta of Franklin and Richland Parish in the heart of the Deep South. No matter what happens to me, good or bad, I will always be the kid who learned about faith, hope, and love at First Baptist Church, Winnsboro, Louisiana. I'm still the kid with the chest cloth pinned to my pajamas.

But I also have roots in Central Texas which has been home to me longer than anywhere. My kids were born there. I've memorialized a son there. It's a place where a thousand memories bring tears and laughter that remind me of growth and defeat, success and failure. But at that place too, when all is said and done, I'm still the dork with Vicks under my nose.

One of the benefits of writing this blog is that I get to ask myself over and over again, "Do I REALLY believe that enough to put that in print?" I do believe it, but in 62 years I've barely scratched the surface of understanding anything of importance.

So until I figure out where home is or will be for me when I'm released, I know that any place mixed with love, the right people, and Vicks is a good start.