Cigarettes, Brooms and the Red Dirt Road

Cigarettes, Brooms and the Red Dirt Road

Habits?  Easy and hard.  I never thought of that till right now. Habits that are good for you, why do we have a hard time making them stick. Habits that are not healthy seem to be easy to pick up and hard to break.  But when you finally lay that last cigarette down, it is a feeling of loss and accomplishment.  Where you must take the time to breath in and exhale.  Live in a minute at a time and know that the cravings last only 5 minutes.

The funny thing is I picked up smoking in nursing school! Studying about health and being a nurse, really? I have also been quitting, since I graduated nursing school too.  Coming back from a ski trip, telling everyone I am not smoking when I get my results.  Well 24 years later I am still fighting with this habit.  I don’t smoke anymore, but still think of smoking.  I still love the smell of it.  The crazy thing is I have tried every patch and medication.  My new job as a Health Coach RN I teach a tobacco cessation class. My first class I taught over a year ago, I left and got in my car and smoked.  Can you say hypocrite. Well by time the class got to the 5th lesson a light bulb came on. I had to treat this as an addiction. I never looked at smoking this way.  You wouldn’t give or tell an alcoholic “just one drink, it won’t hurt” would you? I would hope not.    I put the patch on for 5 days and started praying for strength. I gave this addiction to God.

I knew I could not do this on my own.  I had failed so many times over the years.  Day 5 – always got me, so I headed to the store.  30 days in smoke free, just one I can handle this. Two weeks later, I am buying a pack.  I have strung together months at a time for being smoke free.  I have quit about as many times as I have smoked.  The calm feeling that came with this day 5 was not my doing.  I took the patch off and realized I don’t have control of this addiction, God does.

I had for years listened to Insight for living with Charles R Swindoll when I was getting ready for my 8-5 job.  Now that I work from home this routine had been put aside for about the first 3 plus months. So, this meant I had to create a new routine.  This led to increasing my one on one time with God in the mornings with my coffee (no cigarette).  I began memorizing Isaiah 53:5 …by his stripes I am healed.  I am no longer addicted to cigarettes.  God took this from me, gave me the strength.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

I admitted I am weak and could not do this on my own. 2 Corinthians 12:9
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.

OK, there is my story of quitting.  It is hard.  It is rewarding, and I still struggle, but it is easier every day.  Removing the fear of failing, allowed me to step aside and let God be in control of my smoking. 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Sound mind is translated in some versions of the bible as self-control.


Sitting in Granny’s big green Ford LTD we had trouble seeing out the windows. The inside windows had the nicotine haze on them. It didn’t bother us a bit. We would lick our fingers and draw hearts and happy faces on the inside of the windows, until Granny started fussing at us.  We were heading home from church this beautiful sunny Sunday morning. Granny had her Winston lit and puffing away; holding it out the window a bit. We bounced around in the back seat, as Granny drove us home down the red dirt road.

We, being my sister and brother.  I am the oldest.  My sister is the middle child and brother is the baby.  At this point of our life we were 5, 7, and 9 years old.  We moved in with Granny when I was entering the 4th grade. Granny’s house became home to us for 5 years. The red dirt road and surrounding woods was our playground.

Our three-bedroom, white wooden house with red shutters, sat bout 50 yards off the red dirt road.  You could smell the iron ore in the air, from the dust that blew into the unsealed windows. This small house had wooden and laminate floors.  The wooden walls had peeling, cloth wall paper and paneling.   Our wooden home sat on cinder blocks.  The little wooden house was surrounded by towering cedar and oak trees, with one beautiful mimosa tree with a wisteria vine entwined in it.

Granny always talked about her car, saying it might not be clean, but it runs. It always got us to town, church, and took her to work.  We all piled out of the car and headed in side for lunch.  We sat around the kitchen table and ate our grilled cheeses and Cheetos, with sweet tea.  While we were eating brother opens the kitchen drawer behind him and finds several packs of juicy fruit and double mint gum, along with two cartons of cigarettes.  One carton was Winston’s and the other were Salem’s.  He grabbed two packs of gum and slid them into his pocket.  Granny got up and started clearing the table. She was humming Mansion Over the Hilltop,  as she was doing the dishes. Sister took the Cheetos with us and we headed outside to play with new kittens and work in our club house.

The mama cat had her babies right under the back porch.  To get under the back porch we had to crawl under the house and then crawl under the porch.  We all three crawled under the house to visit her and her babies. They were all sleeping, so we scooted farther underneath the house to our first club house.  Under our house we could crawl around in the red dirt and sit up straight.  It was just perfect for us.  We could look up through the cracks of the wooden floors.  We could see Granny leave the kitchen and we could hear where she went room to room.

Once we got to the spot of our club house we started setting up our boxes and crates.  We used these for our tables and cabinets to work on.  We have collected a couple of pots and pans, forks and spoons, bowls and glasses for our club house too.   Today I was making the cakes and sister was making the tea.  Brother was opening the juicy fruit gum for us.  He now had three pieces in his mouth.  We were going to have a bubble blowing contest.

While our cakes were cooking in the milk crate oven we started our contest.  Sister went first.  She blew and blew, almost as large as her head. POP! She was done.  I’m next.  I blew and blew, it popped sooner than Sisters. So, I was out.  It’s now Brother’s turn.  He blew and blew and blew.   Sister and I watched him in disbelief.  The bubble was now larger than his head. POP! It exploded all over his head.  Brother had gum in his hair, on his ears and all we could see was his two little eyeballs. Sister and Brother started cleaning the gum off his face.  I headed inside to get ice.  We all knew ice and peanut butter could get out the gum in your hair.  We did not want to waste our peanut butter. Ice it was.

I walked inside the kitchen to the ice box with the small freezer.  I grabbed another bowl for our club house and to carry the ice in.  I saw Granny sleeping in her recliner.  So, I casually or should I say sneakily,  walked over to the gum drawer and grabbed the double mint gum and a pack of cigarettes.  I should have only grabbed the gum, but no I grabbed those cancer sticks.  I raced out of the house, hitting the last step. Stopped dead in my tracks.  I had forgotten the bowl of ice.  I dashed back up the steps.  I grabbed the bowl of ice, dropped the double mint gum, bent over to pick up the gum and spilled the ice!  All these blunders you would think I would have put the cigarettes back or thought this was God telling me this was not a good idea.  No, they were still tucked in my back pocket.  Granny woke up and came to help me with my spilled ice.  We picked up the ice and Granny sent me on my way back to play.

Sister and I took the ice, placed it on Brother’s hair to freeze the gum and meticulously picked all the gum out of his hair.  I shared the double mint gum with Sister and Brother.  As we sat there smacking our gum and blowing bubbles,  I pulled out the pack of Winston’s.  Sister spoke first. She questioned me with apprehension, “Why do you have those? Granny’s gonna get ya!”.

Brother put his two cents in too, “You don’t even have a lighter!”

We sat there starring at them.  Brother blurts out, “I have lighter! I will be back.”

Brother returned, we did not question that our 5-year-old brother would even have a lighter.  He had a knife and a gun, why not a lighter.  I flipped the pack of cigarettes over and hit them against my hand.  I didn’t know what it did for the cigarettes, but Dad and Granny both did this before opening the new pack.  I opened the pack and passed each of us one.  We each took a turn and lit our cigarettes.  We are puffing, coughing, choking and laughing.  We thought we were so grown up.  Sister grabbed the tea (which was water that we brought under with us) and passed everyone a glass of tea.  I passed out the dirt cakes.

We were having the best tea, cake and smoke party ever.  We heard movement up in the house. We sat still and quit laughing.  Oh no, we could see Granny going into the kitchen.  Her footsteps were not her usual soft shuffle we were accustomed to hearing.   Her steps were loud and quick.  She was knocking dust on our heads with each forceful step.  We heard the screen door slam.  We quickly put out our cigarettes in the dirt, poured our water over them. We heard Granny hollering for us.  We didn’t say a word.  We sat there like little statues.  She hollered, “Ya’ll are smoking under there, get ya’lls butts out here!”  We still didn’t answer or move.  Then we saw it.

It hit Brother first.  Knocked him over into the ashy, mud puddle we had made trying to hide our cigarettes.  Sister got it next.  She scrambled away as it hit her backside.  I ducked but came up too quickly.  Granny’s broom caught me right in the back of the head.  We all scrambled out from under the house, with the broom swinging side to side like a pin ball machine flipper bar and we were the balls trying to defeat the person playing.

My first lie to Granny and my last. She questioned us about the cigarettes.  I lied.  Sister and Brother just went right along with me. I told her I took the cigarette butts from the ash tray; never told her I took the pack.  She gave us the lesson of where there’s smoke there’s fire, and smoke rises.  That smoke rose straight up between the cracks of those old wooden floors and told on us.  We had to pick a peach tree switch again.  We knew now not to get the small, wispy, thin ones.  Get a peach tree limb with less whip.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

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