My Dad Was A Smoker

Lew Goddard

© Copyright 2021 by Lew Goddard

Photo of a Lew's dad.
Photo of Lew's dad.  Owned by the author.                            
He sat in a high backed wooden chair that creaked with the slightest move after dinner. Tobacco, in those days was available in packed layers of leaves and fashioned much like a cigarette package and to keep it fresh it was wrapped in cellophane. After carefully cutting the plug into small portions that fit in his pipe, he reached into his front right pocket and extracted a brass colored bullet shaped lighter. The top was removed and with a flick of his calloused thumb it burst into flame. It had to be tipped at just the right angle so it caught the tobacco on fire but he didnít burn his thumb. The lighter was restored to his pocket.

With a look of contentment, he settled back in the chair and drew smoke from his pipe. The words are ďhe puffed.Ē Within fifteen seconds an immense cloud of smoke surrounded him and caught whatever draft there was available in an ancient house built with upright railway ties, asphalt siding and lathe and plaster interior walls.
But he said that he never inhaled.

I thought nothing of it as I drew in the scented smoke and I thought I could understand my Fatherís pleasure. My Mother never objected and if she approved then it certainly must be all right.

Nothing changed as years went by except that at the age of thirteen I started to smoke cigarettes. ďRoll your own,Ē they were called. I hid the tobacco and papers in the outhouse and no one else found it until one evening I neglected to leave it there and when I undressed, I placed it on my dresser. My sleeping area was accessible to my parents and early the next morning, my Dad spotted my makings. He didnít awaken me but later in the morning all he said was donít expect me to pay for your cigarettes.

I guess he felt that he couldnít condemn me because he smoked.

He never paid for my cigarettes but at times I helped him pay for his tobacco. I would lend him a dollar but I always received a dollar and a quarter in return.

In addition to smoking, my Dad chewed tobacco as well. He would bite a dime sized corner off a similarly shaped plug that appeared to have been soaked in oil. I tried it once and it convinced me that my assumption was correct.

He passed away at the age of seventy nine. Having retired at the age of sixty, he apparently thought he would have many years of happy leisure to do whatever he wished. For some seven or eight years, he languished and actually grew a little fat. Iím almost certain that he smoked more because it was not unusual for him to actually bite off the stem of his pipe.

Once when I returned home from work out of town, I noticed that he was not as quick witted as usual but didnít say anything. Each time I saw him, it was evident that something was wrong. My Mother and I discussed it and we persuaded my Dad to attend a physician. Several tests indicated miniscule strokes. Part of the Doctorís diagnosis related to arterial hardening and hence a disruption of blood flows. My Dad wasted away over the next years to virtually a living corpse.

Just after his death I quit smoking. Thatís forty years ago. I know in my heart that my Dadís smoking had a great deal to do with the terrible wasted final years.

But he didnít inhale.

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