Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...


Monday, April 16, 2012

I want to be here.


Daffodils are a symbol of Spring.

April is the month in which we use the daffodil as a symbol of those we have loved, and lost to cancer.















"There is a cigarette for the two of you."











These are all ads I scanned from a popular 1969 magazine.


This is hard.



My mother smoked.  She smoked like crazy.  She smoked all the time.  She was almost never without a cigarette.  A long time ago, I made a terrible joke that if Mom could find a way to smoke in her sleep, she would.

Ha ha, very funny.


If you were to look through our family photo albums, you would see so many pictures of my mother with a cigarette in her hand, or with that ashtray nearby.  My brother and I wished so much that she would quit.

But then, everyone's parents smoked, it seemed.  Most of my friends' parents smoked.  I think, in the 1970's,  most of us kids rolled into school smelling like cigarettes.  I remember getting a ride home from a friend's house, in the winter, and his dad was puffing away as he drove us home, and he didn't even crack the window a millimeter.  I wanted to die from the unbreathable, toxic fumes.

We tried to hide Mom's cigarettes a few times, my brother and I.  Boy, did she ever get mad.  Scary mad.  We gave those cigarettes back in a hurry. It was weird because our Mother was the most frugal, sensible person with money ever, and yet she forked out a ton of money each week for those cigarettes.

When I was a much younger woman, getting ready to head out for a night of dancing, my Mom would sometimes stand in the doorway of the bathroom and chat with me.  And smoke.  I hated that.  I wanted to ask her not to smoke while I was getting ready.  Sometimes I did, but it would hurt her feelings.  I hated going out smelling like smoke.  I wanted to go out smelling fantastic; like soap, perfume, and squeaky clean hair.

My Mom had terrible, destructive rheumatoid arthritis.  Her feet were ruined.  She could never wear beautiful shoes.  Ever.  She could barely wear the matronly, frumpy "dressy" shoes she so hated to special events.  Her hands became twisted, gnarled versions of their former, long, sleek beautiful ones.  As the disease progressed, Mom was forced to move on to more heavy-hitting meds.  One of the last drugs she took meant that she wasn't able to drink alcohol anymore.  This was very hard.  It seemed like smoking was her last pleasure.

This drug came with a high risk of cancer.  More so if you were a smoker.  Mom became sick.  Very sick.  She went into the hospital on Easter weekend, two years ago, and she never came home.  Stage 4 lung cancer.  We were all shocked.  I don't know why we were shocked, but we were.  Maybe it was because my mother never, ever stopped moving, or stopped doing things.  Even though her every day life was painful, she still vacuumed the house every other day.  She did all her laundry every Monday.  She went for groceries every Thursday.  Even as the cancer was advancing, she still made Sunday dinners.

You know, I've heard smokers say all the same things:

"I LIKE smoking." 
"I enjoy smoking." "
"I love to have a smoke with my coffee."
"I like to join the other guys for a smoke."
"The most sociable people are the smokers. "

and my very favourite:

"I'm only hurting myself."

My Mom was in a lot of pain at the very end.  The pain was so great that the morphine couldn't touch it.

After she died, when I'd see other people smoking outside grocery stores, department stores...anywhere..I'd be so angry.  I'd feel like marching right up to them and telling them how selfish and stupid they are.  Especially if I saw parents sucking away on those stupid cigarettes before they went into Walmart, as their little kids stood their waiting for them, I felt myself fill with rage.

I'm not as angry now--just sad, mostly.  But, I do want to say that I am extremely passionate about NOT smoking.  Because in two days, it will be two years since I lost my beautiful mother.  She was not there for my 40th birthday.  She will not be there the next time my kids lose a tooth.  She will not be there the next time one of the kids gets some weird illness and I want to call her for advice.


If you think that smoking only hurts you, you are wrong.


When Mom died, I made a promise with my brother.  We said that we are going to be here for a LONG time.  We made a pact outside of that stupid hospital.  Nuh-uh.  No way.  I am NOT going to leave my kids until I am good and old.  I'm going to eat right.  I'm going to exercise. I'm going to be strong and in shape.

Life is hard, and mostly not fun, but I want to be here.

I want to be here.

42 comments:

  1. ouch. smoking certainly hurts more than just the smoker.

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  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Flannery, and thank YOU for reading :)

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  3. You know, I could say so many things about this great post. But I'll just state that you're a wonderful writer and story teller. I always leave you wanting more.
    Take care.
    Your Friend, m.

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  4. Beautifully written. You are preaching to the choir on this one... I will gladly stand behind you and sign back-up to you.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Tim H

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    Replies
    1. thanks Tim. I am a MILITANT anti smoker, to say the least!!!

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  5. I am very thankful that one of the only things my horrible destructive parents did NOT do was smoke.
    I remember riding in cars with people who did not crack open the window. I remember going to friends houses and gagging at the aroma of stale cigarette smoke embedded into the walls and furniture. I also remember watching the swirl of the smoke rising out of the ashtrays of the momentarily unused cigarette.

    I also remember drinking leftover beers with ashes and butt ends floating in them, in the wee hours of the morn, while my parents nursed their after party hang-overs.

    I remember getting a perm whilst pregnant and having to smell for over two hours the hairdressers constant lit cigarette. When I left, I could not talk, barely breathe, and suffered with a huge allergic reaction to the smoke that left me horribly ill for 3 months.

    Good post, smoking hurts everyone within a whiff.

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    1. Melissa, you always paint a really good picture, complete with so many vivid, poignant details I can really relate to; like the cigarette waiting in the ashtray, and the party beers with the butts floating in the bottom.

      I just hate it!

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  6. stupid smoking, sometimes when I imagine I've said something cool it's with a cigarette in hand. And I've never smoked. I know what illnesses it attracts. I wish my boyfriend would stop. You are a fantastic writer! xx

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    1. thanks Miss Simmonds. Funny how it can evoke a certain image of glamour though...even though it's HORRIBLE.

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    2. hideous hideous! I see the repercussions in medical notes I read through at work

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  7. Well crap, I miss two of your posts and I'm so sorry. Honey, you look fabulous in that red dress and the big 4-0, that's a hard hump to get over. It really is. I will tell you though, once you get some distance you will find this is the time you feel more sure of yourself, more who you are and more you just don't care so much about what others think---if that makes any sense at all. And I am so sorry about your mom. I really am. I don't have very many words when we get on the topic of death as it brings back my son in to focus all too clearly. I'd like to think though, that your mom is up there with my son and they are happy to know we are friends taking care of each other. Hugs, sweetie, hugs.

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    1. Lizbeth, your comment made me cry! What lovely, touching things you said. Thank you. I am so sorry about your son. I can't imagine anything worse.

      As for 40: luckily I'm well on the way to not giving a shit what others think anymore, and DAMN IT, IT'S LIBERATING :)
      Hugs to you too.

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  8. Karen, This is a very touching post, I know how you feel, my mother died 7 years ago from lung and brain cancer. I can't think of any pictures we have that she does not have one in her hand. I am sorry that you don't have your mom, I am glad you don't want to follow in her footsteps.

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    1. Alaina, after my mom died, I did some reading on the net, and discovered that one of the common locations lung cancer metastasizes to is the brain. My mother also had a tumor on her brain. Her best friend just died recently from LUNG CANCER, and she also had tumors on her brain.

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    2. I'm sorry about your mother too. I forgot to put that in there!!!

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  9. Oh Karen, thank you for writing this. An in-law of mine died less than a year ago from lung cancer. He quit smoking the year before, and he too was in terrible pain in his last weeks. I have one grandmother that died form lung caner, and another with emphysema.

    You are right, smoking doesn't just hurt the smoker.

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    1. Vesta, when we're young and foolish, it's hard to imagine, or care about how we'll die (unless you're death-obsessed like I am), but people who smoke often say; "we're all gonna die anyway!" but they don't realise how brutal and painful it can be.

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  10. Those daffodils are so pretty! =)

    http://pinkchampagnefashion.blogspot.com/

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  11. Both of my parents - lung cancer. Stupid me - smoked ten years, and then, when my wife left, I picked it back up.

    I'm chewing the nic gum though, and the quitting process has begun. The hard, heavy deadline is done and I know where I'm at with work.

    But yeah. I'm dumb. I smoke. I'm weak. People have been smoking around me all my life and I wasn't smart or strong enough to resist.

    If I quit smoking, I hope somebody gives me a hug.

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    Replies
    1. I'll hug you Al. NOW GO GET THE PATCH, or that inhaleable electronic cigarette thingy, or whatever!

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    2. Al, you don't know me, but I smoked for nearly 20 years. I am 35. I quit 11 months ago. I smoked almost 3 packs a day at certain times, but usually about a pack a day.

      For 20 freaking years.

      I got a book called "The easy way to quit smoking" by Alan Carr. It isn't exactly "easy", but it does help. A lot. Without those stupid patches and gums and things. I am not even tempted.

      And I am using the money I saved to go to Hawaii. Please try it.

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    3. And don't think you are weak. The "willpower" method is bull.

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    4. good for you, Leauxra. You are AWESOME. Seriously. You must be very proud of yourself!

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  12. This was very hard to read. Very hard, indeed.

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    1. Thanks for making it to the end then, Megan :)

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  13. Fine post. My mom was a 5 pack a day smoker. It makes me endlessly sad to think about it.

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  14. Karen, you write with such passion and power. I can really understand why you feel so strongly about smoking.
    I used to be a smoker, for many years. When I started, it was ALL about wanting to be/appear grown up and cool. Strange, to do something so ridiculously immature as a way to imitate being an adult. Anyway, then it becomes a habit, and I got stuck. But truthfully - I enjoyed it, I liked smoking, and it took a LONG time to stop missing it when I quit. But I don't miss it at all now, and am so glad I stopped. I don't feel particularly militant about smoking, though I completely understand why you are, and all your points about how it affects everyone around the smoker are true. Funnily enough, though neither I nor OH have smoked since having the kids, and very few people they know smoke, they are vehemently opposed to it. There's been a real shift in culture, and that shows in our kids. Maybe they will be a generation for whom smoking holds no glamour, no appeal, and is considered totally unacceptable. Let's hope. xxxx

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    1. I hope that too, Curtise, but I wonder--because it still holds that same allure of rebellion with the teenagers, as it always has. Ah well, we shall see!
      Thank you.

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  15. I am sorry that you had to lose your mom.
    This just makes me so sad.
    My dad smokes. He has emphysema and he is never gonna quit. He has smoked for over 50 years. He doesn't enjoy it, but it's his addiction. So, I get to watch him get worse. He would anyway, but not as fast.
    I know one day I will know how you feel.

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    Replies
    1. well, I hope you don't, Ruth--know how I feel that is. Does that sound weird? You know what I mean. I appreciate your comment. Thanks for sharing that.

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  16. This one is super hard for me to comment on. But I am sending you some massive MASSIVE hugs and love. It gets easier. I promise. Sarah xxx

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    Replies
    1. sigh. It does, Sarah. It does. But anniversaries mean we always have to go through it again, to a certain extent. Thank you though.

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  17. This post moved me. I am a former smoker (it will be 11 months in 2 days), and I know I will NEVER smoke again. It is a mind sent that is hard to understand from the ourside, and I have a hard time remembering now.

    I just remember the desperation to cling to it.

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    1. my grandmother smoked for YEARS and luckily she quit when she was much older..and it wasn't lung cancer that got her, but a different kind of cancer! Que sera, sera!

      Good for you though. It's good that you don't crave it any longer.

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  18. I tried commenting several times on this post yesterday! It was SO NOT WORKING. I wanted to just say that I'm really sorry.

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