A year of sadly losing a loved one, and gladly losing a bad habit
With the start of the new year firmly under way, I decided to bravely take stock of both the negative and positive things that have happened in my life during the previous 12 months and what plans I had for the future.”Ummm, why are you peering out of the covers with only your eyes showing?” husband-head wanted to know as he got out of bed the other morning. “You kind of look like Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining.'”Considering the year that I’d had, I could have been a ringer for that role.”Heeeerrrrreeee’s HEIDI!”For the most part, the year went well. But it was towards the end that it got a little rough. Two things happened – one very good and one very bad.The bad thing was that I’d lost my stepfather of more than 30 years to Parkinson’s disease. And even though a person has been sick for many years, you’re never really prepared for their passing.Granted, as one reaches middle age and beyond, it’s only natural that some of our friends and loved ones will, shall we say, “kick the bucket” and move on to a better place where everyone sits on clouds and wears white wings while doing cream cheese commercials.But most of us aren’t really ready when it happens and dealing with the grief of other dysfunctional family members is usually not a walk in the park, either.As the writer in the family, I was naturally designated to write the obituary for my stepfather, which was fine with me.However, in a blended family situation, everyone had a different take on what should be said in an obituary.”He loved hot sauce!” one of his daughters e-mailed me. “You have to put in there that he loved spicy food!””He used to sing in a barbershop quartet!” his other daughter reminded.”Don’t forget that he was a good sport and verified our forged signatures for absences at school!” my sister reminded me.I tried to include all that information while maintaining some semblance of dignity for the people who were required to say they were our parents.On the other hand, the good thing about the year was that after nearly 30 years and to the delight of my mother and those who have to stand near me, I finally quit smoking. I don’t know why I suddenly decided to quit smoking – and I didn’t really think about it much before I did – but I guess I just figured it was time.Quitting smoking was probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life. I had some help from some medicine that is now available to make it a lot easier, but it’s still difficult in the initial stages.I chose to do it on a weekend and I think I was just as scary as Jack Nicholson.”I’m just going to hang out in the garage this weekend,” husband-head whispered fearfully, the first day that I bagged the butts. “I’ll just leave you and all the nicotine demons in your head alone, OK?”Which was a good thing, because I wanted to gnaw off not only my own arm during the first three days, but husband-head’s as well. Things got better after the first 72 hours, which they say is the time it takes to flush the nicotine out of your body. I looked around and saw that husband-head, the two dogs and the cat were all still alive and no charges had been filed against us, which gave me a glimmer of hope.Husband-head was so instrumental in my success in stopping the smokes.”You do it if you can,” he encouraged me. “I’m right here with you and if you can’t, I’m still here.”The funny part to me was after a few weeks of not smoking when we had another couple – both of whom are smokers – over for dinner. Asking them if they could please smoke outside and not in my house sounded so hypocritical to me, having been a smoker for so long.If one of your resolutions this year was to quit smoking, let me tell you that if I can do it, anyone can. It ain’t easy, but it’s definitely not impossible. Yeah, every now and then I crave a cigarette, but I just don’t do it.And besides … husband-head says I smell a hell of a lot better …Heidi Rice is a staff reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her website at http://www.heidirice.com.
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