Just What the “Doctor” Ordered

I am in possession of a prescription bottle that was filled and labeled in the summer of 1990. I am not sure if even one pill was used from it, that is until I opened it up last week. This medicine really took its power from the bottle itself and it served its purposes over the years.

The bottle was part of a gift that a friend of my brothers gave him. Bob was battling brain cancer and his friend gave him this bottle.

Ruth had rolled up pieces of paper with words on them and put them into clear capsules. This looks like it was painstaking work.

She filled the bottle with these capsules and made a label for the outside. She referred to herself as “Dr. Ruth”, and prescribed that Bob take one capsule daily or as needed. She called the capsules “uppers.”

Last fall when I was in Saskatoon with my Mom I found this jar of uppers in my Mom’s pill cupboard. She had kept it for 30 years, but like Bob had never ventured to unravel what was within. As I worked with Mom to get a system for her pills figured out I put the bottle of Ruth’s uppers into the collection of bottles we were working with daily. I put a label on top to distinguish it from everything else, it was cheesy of me, probably touched me more than anyone else but I labeled the top “UPPERS Bob’s Love.” Then after Mom’s passing when we were dealing with unused medicines I ended up taking that bottle of uppers home. Back at the ranch I tucked it into our medicine drawer. A couple weeks ago when the drawer was not closing properly I decided it was time for a good sort, to get rid of the outdated and unused things. The bottle of uppers was moved to my desk and I have looked at it with curiosity since. Last week I opened it up and unrolled the first “gift”, the first “upper”. It struck me. I taped it it to my desk and have looked at it and read it and thought about it quite alot since.


Yesterday I opened another one, it touched me too. I wondered if this kind and creative effort that Ruth made 31 years ago might come into the light of day through the blog and be a blessing to me and others in this difficult season we are in. I hope to keep looking at these “uppers” one at a time over the next while and using them as a jumping off point to talk about life.

About this first unfolded capsule, I have several thoughts about it. Two things are top of my mind though. If I have a choice seat than that means that this is a very fortunate place to be. This bit of wisdom Ruth planted in that capsule is a reality check. The times are challenging, its still hot and it still has not rained, I just cancelled or had cancelled my third holiday in 12 months, but…………….in fact this is a choice seat. Yes it is. I can make a long list of blessings or ways that my life is easy. How challenging and important to hold the tension within this, on the one hand choice seat and blessings and at the same time and equally true, problems that make our hearts race, our brains scramble and our spirits weary. The other thing I like about this wisdom is that it normalizes drama. I don’t mean the stirred up kind of drama that people create for whatever reason they do…..maybe to feel more alive? I mean the kind of drama that is just part of being human and trying to make a living and a life amid the unknowns of our days. I don’t know why I need that to be normalized, maybe because it seems the ideal all around is to have life under control. But teenagers, weather, animals, health and other humans are not readily within my control, so things get dramatic, and its my job to be faithful in the midst of it all. I am not sure how this prayerful sentence Ruth tucked in that first capsule would have struck my brother, a man fighting for his life, it sure would have been interesting to have talked about this with him.

The Scripture reference that Ruth attached to this prayer sentence is Romans 12:12, that reads “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” I am thankful that affliction is normalized in this verse, it is not a curse, it is life, and in the midst of it we are challenged to be patient. I wonder what Russ thinks about that. I am going to ask him when he gets in tonight. What I want to tell you about this verse from Romans 12 is that I couldn’t help myself and I went ahead and read the next one, verse 13, it is, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Tears came to my eyes when I read those verses. Could it be more clear what life is supposed to look like when we are following as we should? In these confusing times we live in I am very grateful for all sources of clarity that I find in life. These verses, part of a larger section in my Bible titled “Love in Action”, offer me clarity.

There was a more modern prescription that came into play today. Like the prescription of 1990 it was meant to boost morale and made to look very official. Russ phoned me this afternoon so… ….what …..demoralized …dejected …dissapointed ….I am not sure exactly, but big feelings that were hard. He had just finished baling 80 acres that was especially bad for yield. He had taken 1 hour 4 minutes to drive around and scoop up enough hay to make one bale. It was very hard on his morale, he was grumpy, it takes alot to make him grumpy. He asked, “do you think todays batch of iced coffee could include some tippy cow?” I agreed that it could, it should and it would. Tippy cow is a chocolate rum cream.

The bottle in our fridge was part of a gift basket from our veterinarians at Christmas. I believe it was Megan the vet tech who got really creative and put into words what the intent of this gift was, on a prescription label. It gave us smiles many times.

We are all frazzled, so it was that when I made that iced coffee I forgot to put the instant coffee in. I realized it in time, but there was no more space in the blender mug. I had to take a few healthy sips of the creamy cold tippy cow part of the beverage before the 3 tsp of instant coffee that Russell likes could be added. This was my good fortune, I highly recommend this combination! To wrap up this post, in a way that is a 180 degree shift from the start, here is the final “prescription” of the day:

Kathy’s Iced Coffee

In a blender mug combine:

1 cup milk

2 Tbsp. cream (optional)

3 tbsp. chocolate syrup

Instant coffee to your liking

2 ice cubes

2+ tbsp Tippy Cow (Optional)

Blend well until ice is all mulched. Store in freezer for 5-30 minutes

Race to the hayfield for delivery.

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