Words from Dic(tionary)
Aloe Vera: (n) a gelatinous substance obtained from a kind of aloe, used especially in cosmetics as an emollient and for the treatment of burns.
My mother was obsessive.
I do not say that in a judgmental tone. Perhaps a certain amount of obsession is necessary to maintain maternal energy. I’m not sure.
But what she would often do was obsess over some idea, totally selling out her soul in that direction–until a new revelation made its way onto the horizon, which she embraced with equal fervor, although the past experience did not necessarily warrant such enthusiasm.
She went through an aloe phase.
She encountered someone who had an aloe plant and became so enthralled with the idea–that it was used in ancient times as a healing agent, and even appeared in the Bible, which gave it credibility and supernatural implications–that she decided to grow her own aloe plant.
It would be difficult to describe how much she fussed over the sprout. I thought she was going to expel a kidney in her anticipation of it completing its cycle and birthing the pods which contained the magic ointment.
Then–a problem. For you see, the aloe plant produces an ointment which is very helpful for treating burns or cuts. At least, that’s the promo. So once her plant had grown, she found herself in the uncomfortable position of hoping, at least secretly, that I would burn or cut myself, so she could try out her plant.
I’m sure she felt horrible to wish for such a difficulty to befall me. It may be my imagination, but I thought she left matches lying around more, and I can’t swear to it, but there seemed to be a few shards of glass near my toys.
But being a young boy, it wasn’t too long before I warranted treatment. Trying to mask her thrill over becoming an ancient physician of remedy, she expressed concern over my boo boo, and then broke off one of the pods from the plant and squeezed the gooey stuff onto my cut. Then, almost hourly, she checked the progress.
I cannot truthfully tell you that my finger healed any more quickly with the aloe vera than it did with some alcohol and a band-aid. But she was convinced.
Matter of fact, she brought me into the room in front of strangers, held out my wound for inspection and explained her mode of treatment. But like so many other things my mother pursued–and also due to the fact that it became difficult to plan enough injuries to maintain the enthusiasm about the aloe–she eventually dropped her care of the plant, and the poor little thing dried up and died.
We didn’t speak much about it after that. Matter of fact, she never used aloe vera again on any of my cuts. We were back to hydrogen peroxide and alcohol.
But I will never forget the first time my exuberant mother squeezed gooey-gooey from a plant onto my finger.
It brought her joy. So I offered an obligatory smile.