I couldn’t remember how many times I’d visited in the morning- too many, I guess, but not enough. I brought over donuts, cinnamon rolls, cake, bagels, pizza. I could never tell if it was a pride thing, or if maybe he was counting his carbs, but he never ate, so we talked as he smoked, and drank coffee.
“Pop;” the pause was tangible, “you should quit.” He didn’t respond. He’d tried to once before, he’d been on the patch for a while, but problems at home- fights, really- brought him right back to it.
“I don’t want to watch you die of cancer. I’ve seen it before, with grampa, when I was too young to fully understand what was going on, but the next time will be different. It’s a shitty way to die; and it’s a shitty thing to do to your family.” He let the silence linger.
“You were smarter than your sister or your mom- just about anybody in your family- you quit for twenty years; you could probably get away with smoking the rest of your life and not have any consequences until those last few years. But-”
“You’ve got a couple of sons, the semi-invalid you live with,” he chuckled, “and now a grandson, and while none of us may be depending on you for life, we’d all like to keep you around as long as we can.” He didn’t say anything, and wouldn’t look me in the eye as he ground out his cigarette in the ashtray, and walked away.