Friday, February 8, 2013

For My Daddy

When I was growing up, my dad smoked. As concerned as I was about his health, my main concern was that I just plain hated the smell. Having to endure that in the house made me furious, so my goal was to make him quit. Rather self-serving of me, I admit, but I figured that getting him to quit would be good for both of us. Telling him that he smelled bad didn't work, so I went a step further: I told him that if he stunk, I wouldn't give him a hug or kiss, and that when he was in the hospital dying of lung cancer, I wouldn't visit him. (This was when I was a teenager, so cut me some slack.) It wasn't a fight between me and my dad, but rather a battle between me and a disgusting chemical addiction with my dad in the middle, so I had to encourage him to join the fight--on the right side, of course. Was that mean of me, or even harsh? Well, it was right around that time that he quit smoking, so as mean as I was, it worked. (See? I have lots of practice being mean.)

Today is the 13th anniversary of the day he died of complications from congestive heart disease, although smoking was not a primary cause of that condition--a minor victory for me, if you can call it that. While I'm sorry for all the nasty teenage behavior and attitude I gave my parents, I don't have any regrets about pushing and yes, bullying my dad to quit smoking. If anyone you love--parent, child, friend--engages in an unhealthy, harmful activity, use your voice and don't be afraid to be mean, as long as it is done with love. 

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