How I Quit Smoking…

May 31, 2019

“What???”, you say! “You smoked???”

I know that it’s hard to believe, right? I mean, hard for anybody who knows me. But, yes, it’s true.

And here is my story in its entirety. Nothing left to the imagination. Every sordid detail of my previous life as a smoker. Puff by puff. 

How I started smoking…

In 1969, I joined the United States Navy. (Interestingly, I was actually drafted after I joined, drafted again when I was in boot camp and drafted a third time while I was in Vietnam. But that is another story for another time…)

In November and December (and January and February the next year – yes 13 weeks of boot camp because I got there the day after the cutoff for Christmas leave, and they didn’t count three weeks as “time served”) while in boot camp, The early mornings – 0500 to be exact – were a bit chilly. Even in San Diego. 

Many (most) of my shipmates were smokers. I wasn’t. But I did have cold hands and I took note of the fact that many of my friends kept their hands cupped around their cigarettes. 

Having observed what they were doing I enquired as to the reason for this practice and was informed that it was done in an effort to add a little heat to their freezing phalanges.

This, in turn, caused me to consider the temperature of my own manual extremities, and I decided to give it a shot.

I requested a cigarette and a light from one of my comrades, and was, happily, granted one of each.

How I got hooked…

I lit up. I puffed. I encircled my hands around the lit end of the thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper (stogie). I immediately noticed the pleasant increase in warmth which now enveloped the inside of, not only my fingers but the palms of my hands as well.

As small improvement as this may seem to those of you who have never been in the situation, this was a vast improvement in comfort for a guy who was still in the middle of the “tear down the boy” stage which precedes the “build a new man” stage of military basic training. In short, it was GRAWESOME.

For the following two days, I repeated the same tactic of bumming a cigarette and a light from a willing contributor to my new bad habit. It was most enjoyable. (Interestingly, I didn’t actually inhale, so I never had the cough-cough-hack-hack symptoms associated with new, first time smokers.)

How I quit…

On the third day, after my new found “usual” warm up in the early morning hours, we had an inspection. As usual, I was impeccably prepared and standing at attention as the company commander approached from my right (his left). He finally arrived directly in front of me, face to face.  He looked me in the eyes. He investigated my face for any trace of unwanted facial hairs. He checked my mouth for any indication that I might be enjoying the moment (wayward smile). 

And then he lowered his gaze a bit, At which point his face suddenly snapped back up even with, and moved to within a micron of my own, and began screaming at never before naturally achieved decibel levels:

“SEAMAN RECRUIT KRAMER-KAMENER-KEMANAR – WHATEVER THE _ _ _ _ YOUR NAME IS!!! DID YOUR MOTHER EVER TEACH YOU HOW TO PROPERLY DRESS???

“Yes Sir!”

“WELL DID SHE TEACH YOU HOW TO _ _ _ _ _ _ _  FASTEN A _ _ _ _ _ _ _ BUTTON???”

“Yes Sir!”

“WELL WERE YOU PAYING ATTENTION, OR WAS YOUR MIND SOMEWHERE OF IN THE _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ WILD BLUE  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ YONDER DURING THAT _ _ _ _ _ _ _ LESSON???”

“I must have been thinking of something else, Sir.”

“WELL, YOU MUST HAVE BEEN! AND DO YOU KNOW HOW I KNOW THAT YOU MUST HAVE BEEN _ _ _ _ _ _ _ THINKING OF SOME _ _ _ _ _ _ _ THING _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ELSE, SEAMAN RECRUIT KRAPER-KRUMPRE-KMREAMENAR?”

“Uh… Did you ask my mother, Sir?”

After breaking the previous sound-volume record, his decibel level, somehow, got even higher. 

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO_ _ _ _ _ _ _ OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, YOU STUPID _ _ _ _ _ _ _  SMART_ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ SON _ _  _  _ _ _ _ _!!! I DID NOT ASK YOUR MOTHER! I LOOKED AT YOUR _ _ _ _ _ _ _ SHIRT POCKET!!!”

I just stared into his eyes. I believe that if eyes could foam, his would have been frothing heavily at this point.

“DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS INFRINGEMENT SHOULD GO UNPUNISHED, SEAMAN RECRUIT KRAMPMIRE?”

“No Sir.”

“WELL SEAMAN RECRUIT KEARMNRE, WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH YOU TO ENSURE THAT YOU _ _ _ _ _ _ _  CAN REMEMBER TO FASTEN ALL OF YOUR _ _ _ _ _ _ _  BUTTONS IN THE _ _ _ _ _ _ _  FUTURE??? DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS?”

“You could extinguish my smoking lamp, Sir.”

For the longest fifteen seconds of my life, he simply stared into my eyes. He then turned to the man standing next to him, taking notes, and said, “Yoeman, make it so. This man’s smoking lamp is out.”

And that is how I quit smoking. And never started again… 

I mean really, would you?

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Spring has most assuredly sprung at our house as evidenced by Judy’s photography. She LOVES creating photographic records of the wonders of nature found on our property! And who can blame her?

Here are a few of her quick shots from her phone…

While the photos above are nice, my personal favorite is the video below.  My favorite part is her heartfelt commentary… Absolutely heartwarming – to me, anyway…

Murphy Patrick Harrigan O’Kammerer – June 2004 – May 13, 2019 

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I have often pondered, over the past three years, one week and one day, the fact that “God” spelled in reverse is “dog”. If God is love, and I believe He is, then can it be said that “Love is dog”?  Today, you would have a hard time convincing me otherwise…From “The Max Factor – The Final Chapter

Today, you would still have a hard time convincing me otherwise…

I actually started this a week ago, the day Murphy died. The truth is that I had a hard time collecting my thoughts. I had and still have, a lot of them, seemingly scattered far and wide.

I spent hours collecting photos to include with this post. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of them.

I have started new paragraphs and new stories about Murphy, over and over.

Nothing seemed “enough” and at the same time, everything seemed “too much”.

So now I start over with a bit of a different perspective on what I want to say…

Over the past week, I have noticed a few things.

I have noticed that there is no dog prancing into the bedroom in the morning coming over to my side of the bed and standing with his front paws on the edge staring me in the face, letting me know it’s now day time and I am lazily lying under the warm covers.

I have noticed that his food bowl no longer seems to become empty before I finish filling it up with his favorite dog food. So I have stopped filling it.

I have noticed that there are no new clumps of hair on the furniture and carpet where he was just lying down.

I have noticed that his toys have not moved an inch.

I have noticed that he is not lying in wait at the sliding glass door in the dining room when I walk by on my way to the front door upon my arrival home.

I have noticed that he doesn’t follow along, keeping an eye on me through the windows to that door.

I have noticed that he isn’t there when I open the door.

I have noticed that I don’t wear him like an article of clothing when I go from one room to another, or from one side of the room to the other, inside the house.

I have noticed that he doesn’t excitedly follow me out the door when I leave the house.

I have noticed that he isn’t right there with me as I trim tree limbs, wack weeds, mow grass or feed the fish in the ponds.

I have noticed that his head isn’t resting on my thigh while I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner or in between meal snacks.

I have noticed that he isn’t sitting, staring up at Judy as she fixes dinner.

I have noticed that the trash can under my desk is not dumped over when I come into my office.

I have noticed that he isn’t nudging me in an effort to follow him to the “anywhere he wants to go”.

I have noticed that he’s not in the back seat of my truck as I drive down the road toward adventures unknown.

I have noticed that there is no dog poop on the back lawn, where it’s not supposed to be in the first place but somehow manages to move there from where it was originally deposited  – you know, where it’s supposed to be.

I have noticed that he is not there as I walk along our normal route around the neighborhood.

I have noticed that there is no doggy grin anywhere in the house car or yard.

I have noticed that he is not lying on the floor next to my chair keeping watch as I type this…

I have also noticed that my heart is somewhat schizophrenic – It hurts from the loss, but it smiles from the memories…

He would have been fifteen years old next month, and we really thought he would make it. Although he had certainly slowed down a bit over the past year and his hearing was suspect, he was still alert, happy and able to get around well. He had passed his last checkup with above average test results (for his age).

And then, in the middle of the week before last, I noticed that he started not eating his breakfast until later in the morning. He was a bit more lethargic than usual. This became progressively worse into the weekend. He was drinking massive amounts of water. He stopped eating and started vomiting everything.

He stopped coming outside – he would come to the door with me and stop there.

We decided we would call the vet as soon as they opened on Monday morning.

I spent each night lying with him on the floor until the wee hours of the morning. Not letting him be alone, letting him know that I was there and that I love him.

Sunday night, he became disoriented, walking in circles. As he licked water from his bowl, he started licking the air.

We knew it was time…

Monday morning he could barely walk. I carried him to my truck, which I had prepared ahead of time with the blanket that he came to us with – his favorite blanket – spread across the back seat. I placed him there and put a bowl of water on the seat next to him.

I had to stop for gas on the way, and I took a picture of my best friend…

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We arrived at the vet… I took one final picture…

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I carried him into the office. The girls behind the desk asked “Murphy?”. I said “yes” and broke down, sobbing in front of several other pet owners. Fortunately, they had a room all ready for us and walked us to it.

I’m not going to get into all the play by play. Too hard.

The doctor diagnosed kidney failure. It struck me that I should have picked up on that because of my own kidney failure a few years ago.

He asked me if I wanted to be in the room. I said yes.

They took Murphy to another room to prepare him and brought him back. I held him, Stroking his head and back, talking with him, letting him know I love him…

The doctor proceeded as I held him. He checked him out and said, “he’s gone.” He said that he was glad that I stayed. Not a lot of people do that. I told him that I had made Murphy a promise that when the time came, I would not let him be alone, I would stay with him and be there making sure he knew he was loved…

I asked the doctor if it would be possible to go out the back door. I had already made the other pet owners uncomfortable enough for one day…

They led me out…

I think that the main trait of a dog is that of unconditional love. It certainly seemed to be true with Murphy and it was true for Max before him. Would that humans could all learn that…

I think that, maybe, there are two things that a person should aspire to in this life. The first is to be the man or woman that God made us to be. The second is to be the man or woman that your dog believes you to be.

And I have to wonder, are they both the same? Maybe not, but I think they may be pretty close…

I thought I would finish with some happy memories…

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 I just woke up with a start and realized it’s Tuesday morning at 2:57 AM. That’s not unusual because Tuesday at 2:57 AM happens almost every week at our house. 

I also just realized that that means that last night was Monday night. Monday night also occurs most weeks.

Sadly, I also just remembered is that I was supposed to go to choir rehearsal Monday night at 7:00 PM. 

I honestly don’t remember exactly what I was doing at 7:00 PM last night. I was either slipping into a hot bathtub with a load of Epsom salts or I was watching the season one (from 1961) finale of Supercar starring Mike Mercury, but I am quite certain that I was not at the Church singing.

I should probably send some sort of apology to our choir director for gelling on choir practice. I do, however, think I have a couple of pretty good excuses reasons for forgetting.
  1. I really needed the Epsom salts.  Really.                                                                                           
  2. I distinctly remember not seeing the season one finale of Supercar, starring Mike Mercury when I was ten years old. That has haunted me for the last fifty-eight years and I had a chance to get rid of my recurring nightmares about having not done so. 
Oh, I suppose it could be attributed to some sort of senior moment thing, but I like my reasons better.

At any rate, Now I’m up and awake. Normally, I would go back to bed and lay there in the dark for an hour or so and wonder why I am not asleep. However, these are not normal times and I’m not sure how that would work out.

Especially since I just remembered that I also missed the season two (from 1962)  premiere of Supercar, starring Mike Mercury.

Popcorn, anyone? Anyone? Anyone at all?

Today, Friday, May 3, 2019, I embark on a new weight loss program. This program will run until next Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at about 9:00 PM. 

When Judy gets home from Chicago.

That is all.

Some days I’m not the sharpest knife in the electrical outlet…

BK