Author: Elle Wood
A beloved uncle of mine passed away from emphysema. Even though it's been many years since his passing, we still remember him frequently and with fondness. He was funny, kind, charming, and self-deprecating. About his only bad habit was his smoking. He simply could not give up his cigarettes.
Uncle Frank started smoking during his Navy days, back during World War II. From the sound of it, practically all those young sailors smoked, looking forward to a cigarette as one of their few luxuries. By the time that the addictiveness and health hazards of cigarettes were widely recognized, Frank had a habit he simply couldn't shake. When he married my aunt, putting up with the smoking was viewed as a concession she would have to make to live with him.
Not that she didn't try hard to help him break the habit. Both of them were very strong-willed, successful people, and if pure motivation could help someone quit, their combined efforts should have done it. Frank tried support groups, quitting gradually, quitting cold turkey, and chewing nicotine gum. About the only thing my aunt couldn't get him to attempt was the program for stop smoking hypnotherapy in Manchester, near their home. None of Frank's quitting attempts lasted long. Soon he would be back at his old, long-established habit again. The rest of us in the family, understanding how frustrated his efforts could become, made exception to our "no cigarettes in the house" rule for Frank alone.
After awhile, the smoking caught up with him, in the form of painful, drawn-out emphysema. One of the saddest stories indicates how very dependent Frank had become on the habit that was killing him. As he sat weakened on the sofa one day, utilizing an oxygen tank to enable him to breathe, he begged my aunt to go buy him more cigarettes. By this point he would have agreed to try the stop smoking hypnotherapy in Manchester, but it was too late. Though he knew they were the cause of all his pain, he absolutely, desperately, needed a cigarette. By the time my aunt returned from the store, to throw the pack at him in frustration and anger, they were both crying.
I try to share this story often with my children, to help them understand that it's so much easier never to start smoking than it is to stop. Being kids, they're only somewhat likely to pay any attention. However, being their mom, I won't stop trying, in the hope that they don't wind up finishing their lives in the sad state that Frank did.