In Remembrance of a Smoker
Seven years ago you left to go who knows where. The time of diagnosis and death was so very short. Sunday would have been your birthday, cut short by the 3 packs a day you smoked for 30 years. Diagnosed with lung cancer after quitting smoking for 34 years, it still got you in the end.
I remember the day when the diagnosis was made, and I remember you saying that if you knew smoking would still get you, you never would have stopped. You craved that cigarette for some 60 years, and often substituted Irish Whiskey (what else?) after dinner. What you really wanted was a smoke along with the Irish.
They have raised the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21. I know you would have said that it doesn’t make much of a difference. Cigarettes are easy to come by and even more easily addictive. And you probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that there is ANOTHER ballot measure to raise the taxes on cigarettes and, once again, it is being fought by Big Tobacco with very persuasive advertisements as to why to vote "No" on Proposition 56. They are using the same tactics they have used for years – Doesn’t solve problems; only treats 13% of the smokers; Insurance companies profit; cheats our kids and schools, etc.
On the other hand, even though “Yes” on Proposition 56 has statistics in its favor -- “Saves lives; protects kids; fights cancer; only affects those people that do smoke” -- there is not the money behind the campaign as there is on the opposition side.
I wish I could tell people how you suffered from lung cancer. I wish I could tell them how you fought for every breath. I wish I could tell them what it was like to fall asleep and have the oxygen tube slip out of your nostrils. I wish I could tell them what a struggle it was for you to talk -- to take your next breath. I wish I could tell them what the chemo did to you as the poison was dripped into your body. I wish…..
You are missing so much, Bob. We now have 13 grandchildren – four that are greats! Cody got married Thursday and he is the skipper of one of your favorite party boats! All of your grandsons are driving. The twins have earned Bachelor degrees. One has his Master’s and is working as a social worker while the other twin is in the Master’s program and will graduate next year. You have two grandsons that are seniors in high school. You have one granddaughter that is in her Sophomore year at Humboldt State. Buddy, your dog, has passed away. You probably know that because I hope he is with you, Ole Pal, and Shalom. But you have never met Shadow, my dog now. You have missed so much because of that dammed cigarette.
Do you remember the time you were driving down the freeway with your jacket flapping out the window to get rid of the cigarette smell so I wouldn’t know you were smoking? (As if I didn’t smell it in your hair!) Remember when I pulled up alongside you? Smoking even led you to having to tell lies to me – and yourself. And for what?
RIP, Bob. After the ordeal of dying from lung cancer, you deserve all the peace you can get. If only you had known. I hope it’s not too late for the others!