Life-changing Milestone

Excerpts from The Shaklee Story by R. L. Shook

Life-changing Milestone for Dr. Forrest Shaklee – Tuberculosis

Forrest Shaklee was born in November 1894 in Carlisle, Iowa, the second son of indigent farmers.  The midwife attending the birth immediately diagnosed consumption (tuberculosis) and the doctors, called in later, concurred.  The baby could not be expected to live long.  Observing the child’s labored breathing, one doctor said that his short life would be a “living death.”

The only treatment at the time for tuberculosis was good food, fresh air, and lots of rest.  The family moved from the soot and smoke of the Carlisle coal mines to a farm near Moorland in northern Iowa.  Progress was slow, however, and all of Forrest’s childhood was that of a convalescent, with long afternoons of solitary bed rest.

On sunny days, the boy spent much of his time out of doors wandering around the fields.  He spent long hours alone, observing nature and thinking.  Lying quietly on an old haystack, he watched animals in their natural environment and he speculated about the unseen force that guided migrating birds, and about the instincts that led a sentinel crow to warn the wild ducks when a hunter approached.  Most of all, he was fascinated by the acute senses and instincts of farm animals.  Long before he could detect an impending storm, the sows in the barnyard would gather husks and straw to make warm beds in their pens.

“Animals listen to the voice of Nature,” he realized, “while men have forgotten how.”

As Forrest spent so much time out of doors, he was frequently asked to gather plants and herbs that his mother and her friends used in preparing folk remedies.  He gathered ground ivy, catnip, dandelion, chicory, curled dock, bergamot, joy-pye weed, wild cherry, goldenrod, and wild ginger.  These he helped brew into teas, mix in salads, or use in the creation of liniment or tonic.

The boy learned what the man would need to know: how to turn a setback into an advantage.  Forrest did not allow his illness to ruin his life.  The time he spent alone he used ~ developing disciplinary muscles, sharpening his sense of observation, and learning to think rationally and usefully.

Nature, he observed most, and he came to respect it greatly.  Not surprisingly, he was most fascinated with the healing powers of nature.  Nature has the ability to kill and to heal, he realized, but nature’s ways of death were far more understandable than its power to heal.  How did nature heal?  Was living in harmony with nature the key?  Is it possible to live in harmony with nature in the twentieth century?

By the time he was a teenager, Forrest was “attuned to the signs of Nature’s revelations.”  The solitary summers out-of-doors had laid the foundation for the philosophy he would develop as a mature man.  By this time, also, his health had improved remarkably.  He was able to ride his bicycle everywhere, to run with his dog, and to spend more time each day active and less time lying in the sun.  Finally the doctors were satisfied that his tuberculosis had been arrested.

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