Quit smoking for someone you love

By H.W. Stormy Cloud, Special to the Herald

PASCO -- So you can't stop smoking?

Don't feed me that hogwash! I don't know of anyone who was/is more addicted to Lady Nicotine than I was.

I started smoking at the tender age of 6. I thought I was big and smart. My father had the biggest store in town and it was easy to steal cigarettes and tobacco. My mother put stripes on my bare legs with a limber peach tree switch many times to no avail. I thought smoking was healthy. After all, one of the Camel cigarettes slogan's was "Camels aid digestion," so I puffed away.

Once when I was about 9 or 10, I watched a one-armed man roll a cigarette and light it with a book of matches with his one hand. I was fascinated, so I practiced. In a short time I could roll a cigarette as well if not better than he could.

Time began to pass too rapidly. I was emancipated at the age of 17. I could legally buy alcohol from the state liquor store and drink in the bars and taverns. I owned two businesses and followed construction all over the country. Then I met my one and only and got married.

I was smoking more and more all the time. I was so hooked on the bait that at night I had my cigarettes and matches by the bed and would wake and smoke three to five times before morning. I set the bed on fire several times. My wife begged me to quit smoking, but I laughed it off.

After a while, I decided to "try" to quit, so I tried chewing the special gum but all I got was a sore jaw from chewing. I tried the patch, but it peeled my skin. I tried hypnosis and left the meeting craving a smoke.

I gave up on trying to quit and considered it a lost cause.

Twenty-odd years went by. I had switched to a pipe, then back to cigarettes. Then Valentine's Day 2000 rolled around. I had been too busy to get my wife a card, present or a box of candy.

It was late and I remembered how much she wanted me to quit smoking, so in desperation I decided to give her a smoke-free husband for Valentine's Day. I had a new package of cigarettes, so I opened it and smoked one. Then I pulled one cigarette out just far enough to expose part of the filter and laid them and my lighter in a place where I would see them from time to time. I never looked back.

The first two days were the hardest, but I felt I had won.

From age 6 to age 80 -- yes, 74 years of addiction, and I had beat all odds. If you can't quit for yourself, it is much easier if you are quitting for someone you love. And better still, if you are doing it for someone who loves you.

I have been smoke-free for 11 years. This month will be our 66th anniversary. I pray that this will help some of you die-hard smokers quit.

* H.W. Stormy Cloud, 91, of Pasco, is a longtime contributor to the Herald's letters column.