Old dog’s healthy new trick

On The Way

By Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

My brother, Matt, who has smoked since he was 16 years old quit smoking! He called and told me he hasn’t had a Marlboro cigarette in four weeks. This is the best news in the world to our family.

We grew up with tobacco as the big money crop. There was still cotton, soybeans and, lespedeza, but tobacco, unless something went wrong during the drying process, was where the money could be counted on.

Even back then we all had heard rumblings about lung damage. We had a science teacher, Charlie Parker, who referred to cigarettes as coffin nails, and said we’d all die early if we smoked.

Almost everybody in the family smoked, except for Grandmama and Uncle Walter. Grandmama never had taken up the habit, and Uncle Walter quit after he dozed off, smoking, on the couch and set fire to it.

They all started in their teens and supported the tobacco industry, as the tobacco industry was part of our livelihood.

My brother was a tennis and basketball standout. His coach was Charlie Parker, who served in this capacity as well as teaching biology, chemistry and science.

So Matt was doubly informed about the evils of tobacco.

And this was all well and good until he started dating Sally Roach, a beautiful girl from Laurinburg. Sally was vivacious, bright and a lot of fun. But Sally smoked, and throughout  the summer I watched my brother learn how to smoke on the front porch of Grandmama’s house.

He worked and could buy his own cigarettes.

Although I never was interested in smoking, tobacco smoke was always part of life. The house smelled like smoke, the car smelled like smoke, our clothes smelled like smoke, my hair smelled like smoke. Even the dogs smelled like smoke, since they rode in the car and truck.

My brother tried many times over the years to quit. He once made it for two entire days after being hypnotized.

He was able to really quit because he decided to try again with the help of an e-cigarette.

It contains nicotine, but no tar or other additives. He is no longer hoarse. He says he has more energy and hasn’t had a sinus problem or a head cold in a month. He doesn’t get breathless.

He is planning to get a bike. This is thrilling to all of us. This is the first thing he ever tried that worked for him. I consider it a miracle — just another proof that there are many truly wonderful surprises in life and they come along at unexpected times. Of course, that’s why they’re called surprises.

We’re told that the human body is capable of repairing damage if given half a chance. We just have to give it a little help. This has probably tacked an extra decade onto my brother’s life, and I’m thankful for it. Charlie Parker would be proud of him. We all are.