Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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From Marlboro Man to Electronic Cigarette Man

Elizabeth Santeramo's father puffs on an E-cigarette.Yes, my father has really stopped smoking.

I sometimes call him Carlos Contreras who is Charles Contrary with Contreras being a real Latin surname. I call him this because isn’t interesting that he has stopped smoking now that I blog about his COPD? Well, between you and me, I know why he’s really stopped – he is feeling the effects on his lungs. It is sad.

I’m still proud of him. It’s not easy going cold turkey or giving up the things you love. For instance, I eat ice cream or chocolate almost every night, year-round. I am moderate about it, but I know how lucky I am that for today, I don’t have to go without it.

So dad’s new thing to keep him going are electronic cigarettes. He’s now an official e-man.

It’s funny because in his smoking career and all through my childhood, he was a Kent 100s man. I remember when I turned “of age” to buy cigarettes at the local newsstand – remember those vintage storefronts? – I would march up to the counter and ask for “a carton of Kent 100s.” In those days, he didn’t like Marlboro because it was too strong for him.

Yet in the past 10 years, he went from Kent Man to Marlboro Man. It was more economical. My father learned all the carton-coupon-buying tricks like mom and I knew the clothing-and-shoe-bargain-hunting ways to shop and save.

In a way, my father embodies both Kent and Marlboro, from a brand marketing standpoint. Kent reminds me of Clark Kent, Superman. My dad has been my hero many a time. For one, he has been sober for 27 years this coming November and now, he is smoke-free at his ripe old age. I know he doesn’t want to be, but he is, for him first and for us, second. And as for Marlboro Man, well, my father did go through a period where all he listened to on his kitchen radio was country music. His favorite, sounding like Willie Nelson, humming in the car, in his Argentine-Italian accent, was “On the road again…” I usually rolled my eyes and sank in the back seat. I guess dad was an imaginary cowboy somewhere out west.

From Kent Man to Marlboro Man, my father is now E-Man.

He loves it. His lungs love it. And I love that he’s not smoking.

E-puff away and giddy-up, dad.




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About the Author

Elizabeth cares for her mother, a diabetic, and for her father, who suffers from COPD.