• I never really got to know my Grandfather. He died when I was quite young. I do remember a quiet, sweet kindly old man, one whom I loved very much. One of my few and fondest memories of him are of me sitting on his lap and slyly accepting a sip from his pint of beer. I find it hard to picture him without a cigarette between his fingers. He was always smoking, and then it caught up to him in the worst possible manner.

    It took a while for him to mention to anyone that there was something wrong with his legs. When we finally got around to taking him to a doctor, it turned out that smoking had affected his blood circulation so much that he had contracted gangrene in his legs. My last memories of my grandpa were of him tied down to a chair because he was under such heavy medication and painkillers that his mind didn't know where it was. He didn't even recognize my father, his only son. His fingernails were long and stained yellow with nicotine. The painkillers were to help him cope with the recent loss of a leg, as it had to be amputated to prevent the spread of the gangrene.

    I never saw him again after that... My father did. When my dad went to see him, my grandfather had had his second leg amputated. Somehow all of the pores in his skin had closed. Consequently his body had swelled up to nearly twice the size because of water retention. I guess all of this was just too much, since he then later died of heart failure. The last words he spoke were to my father, and they were to ask for cigarette.

    My grandmother followed him not too long afterwards. She had acquired emphysema. Not only did it turn her into a wheezing cripple but it also affected the oxygen getting to her brain. The last memories I have of her are of a bitter, spiteful woman who really used to be quite pleasant.

    This is my horror story and I do not particularly enjoy telling it but I do so in the hope that it will help at least one person to quit, if not for fear of your own health, then for the love of those close to you. It's just not worth it.

    My father used to be a smoker himself, although I have never seen him with a cigarette in my lifetime. I can't tell how relieved I am that he no longer poisons himself daily. One day he decided to quit, and never had another. Proof that with enough determination and will power it can be done. So a smoker might get withdrawal symptoms. Anger, agitation... basically 2 weeks of living hell. But what's that compared to so many YEARS of not only putting yourself through hell, but those that care for you, and then having your light extinguished in the most undignified way imaginable. My girlfriend smokes. She knows I don't like it but doesn't quite know just how much it bothers me. I don't want to push her because at the end of the day it's her choice and she's big enough to make her own decisions. I just want to show her that those decisions have consequences. Maybe if she reads this it will help. Leanne means a lot to me, I don't want to see her slowly kill herself.


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