Father’s Day 2013

When I was almost 5 years old, I told my dad something he did not want to hear. He was a chain smoker and had been for many, many years. On a day that will forever stand out in my memory, I learned that “second-hand smoke kills” – and I had to share the news.

When Dad got home that evening, I ran out into the front yard to greet him. I met him next to the oak tree that was so big and strong that its roots were starting to crumple up the gravel in the driveway where I hugged him. I was wearing my white snoopy sweatshirt and my favorite colorful pants, and I had no intention of letting him go inside before he pushed me around on our wagon (he let me do the fun version of standing up while he pushed me).

But first, I had to tell him what I learned about second-hand smoke. I looked up at him, kinda like he was the oak tree and I was the driveway, and I said, “Daddy, you’re killing me”. I do not recall what he said back, but I do know that he never, ever, picked up another cigarette. Not once.

I’ll never know if he immediately stopped this powerful addiction because he believed he was hurting me, or if he felt I believed it. Either way, he was a strong man whose roots continue to grow in my heart and mind.

Robert Liske: 1931-1999


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