notquiteold

Nancy Roman

I Hope There Are Windows In Heaven

My Father’s Day Post from a few years ago:

*

When I was young, my father loved cigars.

A while ago, I wrote about Dad smoking cigars in the car (“Riding In The Car with Daddy”). I sat up front between my father and my mother – basically because my sisters would not sit next to me. I was nauseated most of the time. And nobody ever attributed this to my dad’s cigars. They just figured I was a puker.

Well, okay, this was sort of true. I still can’t sit in a car going backwards (even the length of a driveway) without my stomach turning over. And until recently, I used to go to New York once a week on business. I’d take the train. God forbid I didn’t get a forward-facing seat. Of course, as I turned greenish, the gentleman opposite me would often generously volunteer to switch. Wasn’t that sweet?

And forget amusement parks. I am okay with skeeball – that’s about it.

But I think my motion sickness is a Pavlovian response to all those years in the car with Daddy. All I need is to feel vehicular momentum and my body reacts:  ‘Okay’, my autonomic nervous system says, ‘Vehicle in motion = Let’s get queasy.’

After all, the other stimuli elicits the same response. ‘Cigar smell = Let’s throw up’.

But the cigar response is more complex. Sure the waves of nausea are like the incoming tide. But there’s also another beachy reaction – Sheer delight.

To this day, the smell of a cigar fills the air with images of my father  (along with the stinky smoke).

My mother always hated cleaning ashtrays. Her solution was easy – she never put any out.  Dad would sit and watch TV in the evening, with his hand cupped under the cigar.

And there would often be a half-smoked cigar perched on the edge of the end-table near his chair, or on the lip of the sink. “Don’t throw that away,” he’d say. “I’m going to finish it later.” And so the unsightly (but not too unsightly – he didn’t chew the end) would sit, patiently waiting for the next evening.

(I think he got that habit of saving his stogie from his old relative – not an uncle – I’m not sure how exactly we were related – but this old guy would leave his cigar perched on the step at the door of our church. He’d pick it up after Mass.)

When I was a teenager, I remember my mother wanting to hang some new sconces on either side of the picture window in the living room. My father put up the first one by measuring the distance from the window with his cigar. He popped back into the den for a few minutes to check the game. Then he went about putting up the second sconce also by measuring with his cigar. “But your cigar is shorter now, ” complained my mother. “Don’t worry,” said my father, “I’m allowing for the ash.”

When I was in college – I took my first big trip. I flew down to Mexico. (my first plane trip, and I did it alone. To another country! And I didn’t throw up on the plane – I waited till 2:00 AM at the hotel. Pretty good, I still think.) Anyway, I had a high school friend at the University in Mexico, and we met up and went to Acapulco for the cheapest Christmas Break adventure ever experienced.

Cuban cigars, though contraband in the U.S., were available in Mexico. And I bought my dad one. One. It cost the equivalent of six dollars. Which was about 30% of what I spent that whole week. Given the exchange rate at the time, I think the price on the label was about $40.00… this was what I liked best about the cigar. When I gave it to my Dad, he was impressed. “I’m going to save this and smoke it at your wedding.”

I didn’t get married right after college.  I waited a few years. Like twenty.

And at my reception, my Dad took from his pocket the twenty-year-old Cuban cigar and lit up. We practically had to evacuate. But it was one of the highlights of my day.

As my father grew older, he cut down on his cigars, and eventually in his old age, he gave them up completely.

I’d like to say I miss them – but honestly…no.

But I do miss Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I hope there are lots of cigars in heaven.

But for God’s sake… (LITERALLY, Dad!):

Open a window.

My Dad and Me on my wedding day. Behind my head is the cigar-aligned sconce.

22 Comments

  1. This warms the cockles of my heart, Nancy. Wonderful tribute to your dad. I’m sure he’d be pleased.
    My dad didn’t smoke cigars, but cigarettes in the car. Made me sick but I didn’t puke. I hated cigarettes smoke but ended up taking up smoking. Nuts!

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  2. Oh how lovely the memory. ‘d buy my Dad a tin of Tom Thumb cigars for Father’s day, though he used to love the occasional half corona. Cigar smoke makes me nauseous too, but the smell of a pipe brings back memories of Dad and both grandfathers.

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    • You look lovely by the way. Proud Dad too.

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    • I think the sense of smell is underrated – it’s amazing to me how strong and immediate the memories come back with certain aromas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read something along these lines some time ago and found it fascinating.

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  3. My dad smoked too heavily for years, but when I envision him, he isn’t smoking.

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    • Funny, I am just the opposite. I don’t think my father actually smoked cigars that much – but that’s the way I picture him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is weird we have the opposite. Too funny. Thanks for writing!

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  4. Smiling ear to ear! Loved it.

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  5. Christine

    We were so lucky to have such wonderful parents. Even as a kid I think I knew it, although I hated the cigars.

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    • I honestly can’t think of a way our childhood could have been any happier.

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  6. My dad was a heavy smoker. When we were kids my mom would drive us to a store in the center or town (before convenience stores were on every corner) and buy him a carton of Tareyton 100s from us for Father’s Day and his birthday. Yikes! He ended up having a quintuple bypass and quit smoking, thank god. I need to face the way we’re traveling on the train too, by the way.

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  7. My dad, at 84, still smokes about a cigar a day. And his pipe fairly regularly. It’s kind of one of my favorite smells.

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  8. June

    My dad smoked unfiltered Camels all the time. If he woke up to use the bathroom at night, he’d sit in the den and smoke. And that smoking did catch up with him. He died of cancer at age 53. I still miss him every day. My husband also smoked and so did I. We both quite the year before he passed away from a heart attack. He said once he was going to start smoking cigars. I told him it was me or cigars…make his choice. I won.
    junek

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  9. Wow. This brought back memories of my own Smoking Dad. (Did ALL dads smoke back then?) Anyway. He smoked cigarettes, not cigars. But he smoked them everywhere: in the car, in the kitchen, at the dinner table. In fact, he would save a bite of something like, say, mashed potatoes, so he’d have some place to stub out his last dinnertime cigarette. But I miss him, anyway.

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  10. such a lovely blog for your Dad

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  11. Great post! And what a beautiful bride you were. Bill smokes cigars even now but thankfully, he goes outside. He prefers cheap cigars, and come to think of it, cheap wine, and hopefully not cheap wiomen, 🙂

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  12. What a sweet memory and tribute. I love good cigars!

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  13. Sally Habib

    Loved this … I only had to ride in a car
    with a cigar once … What an awful experience!
    Windows up just like you said … I love the part
    about him smoking THE cigar at your wedding…
    Glad we both have great memories of our
    Dads … Mine didn’t smoke which was a
    great blessing !!

    Like

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