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.