Grandpa Morris puffs away the night
Grandpa Morris was a calm and quiet man, but he could entertain his grandchildren even as he slept.
After plowing the fields of his farm in Southwest Morgan County by day, he cooled off on the front-porch swing in the evenings and puffed his pipe. He rarely said a word as Grandma fixed supper inside, her voice charged with high drama.
When Grandpa retired to the bedroom, tired and dragging, he didn't amuse the grandchildren by snoring up a windstorm. Instead he pursed his lips and puffed, puffed, puffed. Somewhere deep in Dreamland, he smoked an imaginary pipe until the sun rose again over Cedar Plains.
I thought of him and chuckled last week as Dear Abby promoted the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.
Enclosed by a blue haze of sweet-smelling smoke, Grandpa ignored my grandmother's constant warning that tobacco would someday mean his end. Likewise, he would never consider surrendering his pipe for a day to some henpecking outfit headquartered way off in a big city like Atlanta.
Grandpa would tell me to mind my own business, but I hope you smokers put down your tobacco for a day. If you made it, try to stretch it to two days and then three. Then give it up for good.
If you quit by age 35 you will avoid 90 percent of the risks from tobacco, according to the Cancer Society. If you quit before age 50, you have one-half the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared to those who keep puffing.
To a non-smoker like me, using tobacco to feel its effects makes about as much sense as shooting yourself in the foot to hear the sound of gunfire. Of course I can't understand the addictive effect of nicotine and the powerful hold it has — or had — over people like my grandfather.
From my front porch, situated in the middle of his former cotton field, I can see the places where he puffed away the days and nights.
For sentimental reasons I keep two of his pipes on a shelf along with a stash of his tobacco.
The display is not exactly a monument to the quit-smoking campaign, but Grandpa is not exactly the man you would use to show that tobacco is a killer.
He lived to be 90.
Some might say he was lucky. Folks in these parts might argue he had a strong constitution.
I believe he just wanted to prove Grandma wrong.