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Dear Fools,

My mother began smoking by picking up my grandmother's discarded stubs at the age of 13. She smoked her entire life, and died of lung cancer a year ago, on October 15, 2008. We had many remarkable moments with her in the final ten weeks of her life. Among the saddest, though, came when I walked into her room -- she unaware I was there -- and heard her whispering to herself, "These damn cigarettes. These stupid cigarettes." We spent the 10 weeks with her, and what I saw day after day, was a 71-year-old woman whose body was strong (she worked outside most every day of her life) and whose mind was sharp....but her lungs were crowded with tumors. Her father lived to 98, her mother to age 90. I believe smoking took 15+ years off the end of my mother's life. And I've missed her every day this year (and will continue to). A beautiful story in the New York Times gave a few of the details of her life:

I continue to wish everyone here the very, very best in your efforts to quit smoking, which will reward you with more time, more money, and a healthier experience throughout life. I consider my mother's life a brilliant triumph, over far too soon.

So, keep at it, Fools.

Tom Gardner
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