My Mother’s Pills

The following things have been known to give my mother a headache: rain, cold, heat, hunger, arguments, stress, breathing. So, I knew when we were out the other night and I needed something for a headache, she would have it.

My mother took out a small pill box. “I need to be careful, some of these have codeine and others don’t, and they’re about the same size.” My mother has not been able to read a billboard without glasses for about 10 years, but she proceeded to sort through these pills without her glasses and hand me two. They didn’t match.

“Marcia, these don’t match, how do you know which one has codeine?”

I should explain that from an early age my mother taught me to call her by her first name in public. It’s not that she’s embarrassed to be my mother (normally). It’s that there are lots of kids running around yelling “Mom” and how is she supposed to know which one means her? It’s not really relevant to the story, but it’s taken me a long time to appreciate my mother’s logical and unsentimental approach to parenting, so I thought I’d mention it.

“Oh, those are the same, just from different batches, see, here’s the one with codeine,” she said handing me a third pill.
“Mom, two of these are exactly the same, which one is the codeine?”
“Hmm, I guess you can’t tell them apart after all.”

All though by this point I really wanted the codeine I thought that since I needed to drive my children, husband and parents home, I should probably ask my dad for one of his heart attack preventing asprins instead. This is one of the good thing about parents aging, they always have drugs on hand. Feeling better, I return to my mother’s issue.

“Marcia, why are you carrying around codeine in your purse? If you need codeine shouldn’t you be home?”
“Well, I had this day where I had a horrible headache and lots of meetings in different places, and I knew I would need the codeine. So I just added it to the pill box with my tylenol.”
“Mom, you know you’re not supposed to drive when you take codeine, right? Doesn’t the prescription say that?”
“Oh, it’s not prescription, it’s over-the-counter from Canada.”

Because you know what your mother always taught you, “As long as its black market not a prescription, it isn’t a problem.”



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