My grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer at 83, 40 years after she stopped smoking. She lived a vibrant life, tap-dancing well into her 70's, sewing costumes for themed teas with her friends, and always making time for a visit with me and my son -- her only great-grandchild -- when we were able to visit. My grandmother gave birth to my father when she was twenty and unmarried. She had to give him up for adoption, only to marry my dad's father and have a family with two more boys. I consider myself lucky to have met her when I was five, when my dad re-connected with his birth parents. I was lucky to grow up with her in my life, to learn from her, and to have my 9-month-old son meet her in her last months. I want more people to understand the devastating effects of smoking, even--or especially--in one's early years. My grandma died before she was ready to leave this world, before I was ready to say goodbye.
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