Tuesday, May 17, 2011

RemembeRED: Smoking

Note: Write about the first (or second) memory that comes to mind when you see this ashtray full of cigarettes. Keep it under 700 words, please. And remember...Memoir means memory. It's all about you and your life. First person. NO fiction.

My grandfather smoked. Two or more packs a day, I remember hearing someone say. He also drank more beer in a day than most people can tolerate. This was back when cans of beer had pull tabs, and my grandfather had a beer tab chain that he hung as a garland all over the first floor of his house. My grandfather died in 1976, and to this day I wonder what happened to that beer tab chain. No one in my dad's family has ever admitted to having it or taking it to be recycled.

I can remember that my parents smoked, especially my dad. (No beer tab chain, though.) He smoked until we moved to Washington D.C. My mother had quit, and she didn't want any smoking in the house, so my dad had to go outside to smoke. Once the weather hit below forty degrees, my dad decided that he needed to quit smoking. And he did.

But he needed something to do instead, and he asked me to teach him how to crochet.

At the time, my father was working two jobs and going to school to get his masters. He rarely had time for much else. In addition, I was in the Surly Teenager phase of my development, ready to take offense at the slightest raise of a parental eyebrow.

Never mind that I had just learned how to do a granny square a couple of months ago and didn't know much else. My dad was actually asking ME for something!

We sat on the couch in the family room, each of us with our crochet hooks and our yarn. It was slow going, because I didn't really know what I was doing well enough to actually teach anyone. It was very frustrating for me, trying to show him and tell him and direct him to make the chain, loop it, and 'post'. Fortunately for him, my dad had already learned how to crochet from his mother many years ago, and just needed a refresher.

He didn't tell me that at the time, however. Instead, he let me feel a small measure of pride that I had "taught" him something, and for that my self-esteem is eternally grateful.


  1. Thank you for sharing that wonderful memory. I really like how you transition from the beginning about your grandfather's smoking and drinking to your father quitting smoking and ending with the positive memory of you and your father sitting on the couch, teaching him to crochet. It's amazing how something so ugly, like the ashtray of cigarettes, can trigger something so beautiful.

  2. That's a good, touching memory of teenage days with your dad. I also find it cute that, in order to take his mind off smoking, he decided to learn how to crochet! :)

  3. I absolutely love that the son of "Beer Chain Man" took up crocheting. Your father must have been very secure in his manhood :)

  4. What a great story! I was imagining this rough, smoking daddy - then he wanted to crochet! And you got to teach him. I loved it.

  5. love it- a great dad wanting to spend time with his daughter. reminds me just how easy it is to make child feel like they are the only person in the universe!

  6. I think it's great he had a pull tab chain. What a personality! And the fact your dad crochets .. priceless LOL!

  7. What an amazing Dad. I can just picture you guys hanging out in your living room, concentrating over your hooks. Beautiful.


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