Garlic and Grief
Can one put too much faith in alternative medicine?
Young John struggled up the path with his father’s shopping. For a man who always said his needs were few, they didn’t half weigh a lot. Four Tesco bags brimming, and this wasn’t even his weekly shop.
Wearily Young John plonked the bags in the porch and stood blowing, trying to catch his breath. I’m getting too darn old for this he thought. With a sigh, he opened the kitchen door.
His father was bent over the sink with his back to him, pyjama pants around his ankles, his skinny buttocks resembling two bleached prunes. Old John’s finger was shoved up his backside to the second knuckle.
‘Good God! What the hell…?’
The old man yelped in surprise and rapidly bent to snatch his pants up. A small white object of indeterminate shape shot out of him and landed on young John’s shoe.
‘Father, what in the name of God are you up to now?’
Ninety-two years old ‘Old John’ turned sheep-faced to his son ‘garlic’ he said defensively ‘a peeled clove used as a suppository every day. Good for the prostate and the piles. They say it helps the heart, too.’
Young John, a mere lad of seventy-one, shook his head in disbelief ‘good grief father what have you been reading now? Quackery for The Elderly Weekly?’
‘It’s not quackery John I’ve been doing it for years why do you think I still live independently at my age? ’You should try it, lad, you’re no spring chicken yourself now.’
Ignoring his father’s advice, as he always did, John said ‘You live independently, father, ‘cos I run myself ragged looking after you, you old goat. Now, for god’s sake go and get dressed while I put away your shopping make your lunch.’
Old John creakily retrieved the garlic clove and tottered to his bedroom muttering.
‘And make sure you wash your hands’ John called after him.
The end came suddenly. The funeral was a sad affair with many mourners. I, a mere friend of the family, sat at the back whilst the relatives clustered at the front speculating as to who’d inherit his house and money.
At the reception afterwards, I was approached by John ‘Hi Thomas’ he said, a sad smile on his face ‘thanks for coming.’
I offered my condolences ‘It was quite a shock’ I said ‘so sudden. We were sat in the bar enjoying a quiet pint and he just clutched his chest and fell over.’
‘Yes, it was a shock for me, too. He seemed so healthy. If only he’d used a daily garlic suppository like I advised.’