Chicken and Stars

I love this Mom before Mom series. Thank you Carla at All of Me… Now!This week’s topic is interesting because I can only think of one thing… here we go!

This week’s prompt:
Who took care of you when you were sick? How did you spend sick days? From soup to ointments to old wives tales, how did your family teach you to heal?

To be honest, I can’t remember too much about being sick. I’m sure I had colds and the flu, but I have no real lucid memories of those times. I do know that for me to get a fever is rare and sort-of dangerous. I haven’t had one in 20 years. But, when I don’t feel well, just as when I was a child, I request Chicken and Stars.

Not chicken noodle.



An old plastic tray carried Saltines, Canada Dry, hot tea and Campbell’s Chicken and Stars to me (via Mom or Dad). The salt stayed on my lips, the carrots always gave me just a little flavor and the stars… well- they were just awesome. I don’t think I was ever out from school for more than 2 days. If I was sick before school but OK to be out of the house, I would go to work with my Mom and sleep on her couch. Her receptionist was one of the most memorable women of my childhood. Her name was Gisela, and she was German (I think). Her blond hair and big smile were so welcoming, and I felt like speaking with her was a challenge- one I wanted to accept. I have such wonderful memories of those days with my Mom. I even remember Gretchen- she was a college student with beautiful hair. I think I only met her once, but she was a long-time patient of my Mom’s. Lord knows Mom would never tell me why she was seeing her, but I suspect Gretchen needed a mom to talk to that wasn’t her own (my Mom is kind of everyone’s go-to for that- she’s an amazing psychologist). That one time we met, she brought me for ice cream after a session. I remember her piggybacking me. She was like my big sister for the day. I’m not sure if I felt sick after that; like I just needed some love, or sugar (see below), to feel better.

Usually my Dad would come to school when I didn’t feel well. He owned his business and was closer to Meadowbrook than Mom. Often times, I had a headache. This was solved by rubbing my temples, and later with some food* (especially when I passed out in 4th grade from low blood sugar). I remember one time feeling terrible. My Dad did skin-to-skin with me. I was maybe six. We were laying in my parents’ water bed and my Dad put me on his chest to keep me close to him and elevate my head so I could breathe. I fell asleep on him. When I woke up, Mom was home- she tried to help my Dad out from underneath the soaked sheets (we were both sweating and I had drooled terribly). Instead, my Dad smiled at my groggy gaze and patted my head back down. I don’t remember what happened after that, but I fell asleep there and my parents didn’t put me to bed that night. I loved snuggling with them. Other times, Dad would bring me to his office, where I would climb on the conference room table, all the way to the end, where I would open up the doors on the wall revealing a white board. These were brand new back then. State-of-the-art stuff where you could write and project your presentations. Me? I chose to write notes and my name with every marker color they had. If the ink ran out, I would raid the office supply cabinet near the fax machine (and sugar cubes).

My headaches still come and are generally stress or lack-of-food induced, although you wouldn’t believe it by my pant size! However, since I have been a quitter (smoke-free) for 3 years, my colds are incredibly rare. When I do feel under-the-weather, I call upon Chicken and Stars. Although one can never does it, there is no other solution to a cold for me.

Having such loving parents, I learned that “things” are not generally what heals us. Healing, both inside and out, are not something that can come from someone else- it comes from within (rest, nourishment, caring for oneself)… but I also learned that things can comfort us in times of need. That is what this soup does for me. As I wait for my body to heal and my spirit to return, I find comfort eating my soup from an over-sized mug. Instead of my Mom delivering a delicious tray of goodies to me in bed, Dave proudly carries a baby on one side and a mug ‘o stars on the other. He then runs down stairs for ginger ale and orange juice with lots of pulp (his solution to all ailments).

While I am glad that memories of illness, at least not my own, are not focal points of my childhood, I am so thankful that Chicken and Stars created such a blissful bond inside me. I hope to pass down the love of this comfort food to Addie, should she ever have a sick day.

* While I mention 4th grade, do any of my UMHS alums remember my sophomore year? On a hot day in June, I stood in my choir robe on the top riser. I was proudly preparing to sing the National Anthem for our graduating seniors, and got to “Oh say…” before I went straight back, knees never even buckling, from dehydration and low blood sugar. I was taken, by ambulance, off the field and to Abington Memorial. My fellow vocalists never stopped… in fact, I think they closed in to fill my space- carry on, Choir!

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  1. says

    I really enjoyed this post, how you took us on a life-like journey down your “sick days with mom and dad”. The way you describe “Chicken and Stars” soup is right on. Saltines are my favorite too by the way. You were a lucky girl to have such comforting parents. Thanks for sharing, Chelley!


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