Chewing gum may be hazardous to your health, but so is smoking

Something amazing happened last week. My mom quit smoking.

The months — let’s face it, years — I spent hounding her to stop before she hacked up a lung have finally paid off. Not that I’m taking credit for it. That’s a massive undertaking and it’s all her. I don’t claim to be the reason she quit or the cure for any addiction, least of all smoking.

Addictions are funny little things. You have to be willing to let go before you can be free of them. And others are always trying to convince you to quit. The more they push, the more you hold on to your addiction. I kept pushing and pushing, but after repeatedly harassing her, I realized I couldn’t convince her.

So I gave up trying to persuade her. I had to finally tell my mom I wasn’t just pestering her to be obnoxious. I want her to be around to be a grandma to my kids (and considering I’m hopelessly single, she needs to hang around quite a while). And the hacking cough she has developed over the last eight to ten years was really starting to scare me. And I left it at that.

In true addict fashion, she had excuses…lots of them. She tried to blame the cough on acid reflux. “Uh, mom…Ashlee Simpson tried that trick. It didn’t work for her either. So quit smoking.” In her defense (and Ms. Simpson’s too) acid reflux does cause some weird phenomena. But the cough was still quite frightening. Then there was the late night trip to the emergency room a few years back. And while it’s probably horrific that I hoped she’d finally get that excuse to quit, I was scared out of my mind when she started hacking up blood. That was when I really started hounding her about quitting. Thankfully, it turned out it was just a severe nose bleed.

Regardless of the outcome, I’m proud of my mom. I know she can stick it out and I have faith that she’ll be around for years to come. My step dad is another story altogether. He also quit smoking last week and that has proved to be interesting. He went from smoking almost two packs a day to chewing that nicotine gum like it’s going out of style and he is really on edge. Although, he managed to clean out his tool shed yesterday, which I know my mom had given up on him ever doing.

As I’m writing this, my mom will hit the one week mark. (Way to go mom!) But even more exciting — she hasn’t killed her husband yet. They’re both still alive and kicking and they certainly smell a lot better.

Now if only my step dad could master the gum chewing thing and quit biting his tongue.

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