Trail Offerings ~ Cigarette Pack, a Cigarette, and Some Thoughts on Family

August 27, 2010

Off the trail on an old boat launch above the waster I found a cigarette pack. I picked it up, and found that it still contained one cigarette. I was surprised. Cigarettes are expensive.

The pack was a tastefully designed white and gold package, with print carefully distributed on all sides of it.

My favorite: “Please Don’t Litter.”

Oh, and “Underage Sale Prohibited.” Indeed.

Along one side was a “SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight.” So, since I’m not a pregnant woman, I should be OK in smoking just one cigarette.

When I was a teenager I tried cigarettes a couple of times, and remember just about coughing my lung out of my chest cavity. I had also seen a film of a lung cancer operation. That film has remained vivid in my memory all of my life. Smoking wasn’t for me.

Still, I carried the pack with me as I walked down the trail. A young, pretty woman looked at me. Had she seen the cigarette pack in my hand? I placed the pack in my right front pants pocket and walked on.

I am the only member of my immediate family who never  smoked. Dad smoked for a significant part of his life. Mom smoked all of her life. My two sisters smoke.

In the 1960’s Dad’s doctor informed Dad that he (Dad) was addicted, but not to worry. He was addicted; enjoy his smokes. Was it reverse psychology? Possibly. Dad stopped smoking that day, cold turkey, with no patches or gum or 12 step programs. He stopped with nothing other than his will. He just stopped because he refused to be addicted to any substance. He died about 25 years later, and one lung was a mass of scar tissue. Smoking had taken a severe toll.

Now, to be fair, he also lived six miles from the summit of Kilauea, still the most active volcano in the world. He was a volcano geologist, and wouldn’t live anywhere else! Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. Volcanic gases are toxic, and depending on the prevailing winds, can cause severe respiratory problems. So, volcanic fumes damaged his lungs, too.

Mom died last year, and before she died she was having increasing trouble breathing. Smoking had taken a severe toll on her lungs.

Years ago, when all of our immediate family members were still alive, the younger of my two sisters told me “oh, you’ll start smoking one of these days.” Was it reverse psychology? Let me say “yes.” It worked.

It would be fabulous if my sisters stopped smoking.

At the next trash receptacle, I threw the cigarette pack with its freight of one cigarette away.

No, I can’t mention the brand of cigarettes. If I could, it would make the second of the linked cinquains even better!

at the / park I find a / cigarette pack with one / cigarette in it; I don’t smoke / and don’t

have a / lighter to light / it anyway; I am / a man with one cig and much of / my health

If you smoke, please stop – for your health and for the health of those around you.

Blessings, and love and light (but no lighter), Andy

About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
This entry was posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Likeke R. McBride, Samples, Trail Offerings. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Trail Offerings ~ Cigarette Pack, a Cigarette, and Some Thoughts on Family

  1. Amen!

    ps. I’d take Mt. Kilauea over a cig any day. Btw, is that the volcano’s real name? Is it pronounced “Kill-a-you-ea”? a proper name for an active volcano, I think.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Same here.

      Yes, it’s Hawaiian. Kilauea is pronounced “key – LAU – wea.”

      It’s actually very safe. When I was a kid (LONG, LONG time ago!) I had been to within feet of an active flow. It has been called a “drive in volcano” for many years.

      In historic times there have only been two violent eruptions of Kilauea: in 1790 and 1926. Contrary to public opinion, I wasn’t around for either of those!

      Blessings to you and yours, Andy

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