Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Other Side Of Johnny

I rarely agree with Chicago Tribune writer John Kass when it comes to politics, but I read his work anyway. Today he surprised me with a great column about the late Johnny Carson. Most of us have focused on Carson's life, but Kass, a fellow smoker, pondered Carson's death and interviewed an esteemed doctor about emphysema. Upon hearing about and envisioning Carson's last days, Kass vowed to make another effort to quit smoking.

For decades, my grandmother was a militant smoker. If a restaurant didn't have a smoking section, we didn't go there. Her mother died of lung cancer in 1986, but grandma kept right on smoking. I don't think she ever even tried to quit. A few winters ago, she caught pneumonia. Grandpa, who quit smoking decades ago, made her go to the hospital (she hadn't seen a doctor in ages because "he'll just tell me to stop smoking"). The doctor did not disappoint, telling her exactly what she had expected to hear. Except this time there was more urgency to it: stop now or you won't live much longer. And so she quit. We never thought we'd see the day, but she did it. She's still alive and breathing today.

I wish Kass luck. If you'd like to join him, contact the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872).

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