‘It’s a powerful urge we parents have, to save our own kids from suffering the same things we did’
My parents are smokers. They smoked when I was a child, in the car, in the house and everywhere in between. I was used to having conversations with them through clouds of smoke, until I hit adulthood, at which point smoking, and its adverse health effects, began to disgust and worry me. Now I have children of my own and live in a different country. If I visit my parents, I refuse to let my children breathe in their smoke, so will not stay with them. This decision is met with irritation and the suggestion of ingratitude on my part. It makes me sad that they choose cigarettes over being with my children. Am I being selfish?
Smoking is disgusting. Full disclosure requires that I reveal my own hypocrisy here: I’m a former smoker. I started as a teenager, much to the horror of my own parents, who gave up the habit when they had children. When the public no-smoking laws finally took hold in New York City, I dragged my poor friends to the same four restaurants in Manhattan known for turning the other way when their patrons lit up. I regret that it took so long for me to be able to quit for good, and it seems unfathomable to me now that I put my friends, not to mention my lungs, through all that.
Speaking from experience, smoking is an addiction that is incredibly hard to kick, but by no means impossible. Fortunately for me, by the time I had my own children, my non-smoking habit was already well established. But then I married into a Greek family. Greece hovers near the top of the world’s biggest smokers list, just behind their Serbian and Bulgarian neighbours. We vacationed there in the summers, where I discovered the beautiful country through a hazy layer of cigarette smoke. Everyone seemed to smoke – with morning coffee, afternoon Nescafé frappés and evening ouzo. I was lucky that my mother-in-law no longer smoked in the house, as she had done when my husband was growing up.Read more →
Inspired by a piece on the science behind broken heart syndrome, where elderly couples die within days of each other, we’d like to hear your stories
In a piece last week, we took a look at the science behind broken heart syndrome, where elderly couples with decades-long relationships die within days of each other.
It’s the kind of human interest story which will often reach the newspapers. But, as Dean Burnett notes in his piece, it also has some science behind it.
In St Mary’s churchyard Whitby there is the grave of Francis and Mary Huntrodds, both born September 19, 1600, married on that day (I’m not sure which year), and died on that day, 1680, within 5 hours of each other. In the meantime they also had 12 children.
My parents deaths within weeks of each other nearly six years ago was particularly heartbreaking to experience; my father was diagnosed with leukemia a year earlier,and my mother,who had responded well to treat she had for overian cancer seven years before,began to deteriorate from that point onwards,to the extent that she passed away first with my father dying five weeks later;both were in their early 70’s.
It wasn’t necessarily the case that either died from broken hearts,but I in fact nearly did with my own health declining very badly to the point that I was close to death two years after with the constant chronic abdominal pains proving too much with me only just pulling through in the end.They were my last close family which made it extra hard to cope with,but I have recently made contact with my father’s long lost half-brother who I hope to meet this year,which was sadly part of a feud that lasted over 60 years which I hope can end on a happier note after the very tough times I have gone through emotionally and physically over this time.
When my husband died suddenly, after 30 years of marriage, I had very bad heart pain – as though someone were twisting a knife in my chest – for the first month. For the first two weeks I took it quite seriously, but had neither the time nor the inclination to go the doctor, After that, I just got used to it and decided that if I hadn’t died by that time, I was unlikely to do so later.
Now I know that it was indeed a stress-related reaction, and that indeed I could have died as a result. Nearly two years on, I’m still not sure whether that wouldn’t have been a better outcome.
My grandfather sat in his armchair and died hours after returning from my grandmother’s funeral.
My grandfather, Charles, and grand mother, Louise, 84 and 80, died of natural causes in their bed together, probably Charles first and Louise shortly after. The doctors couldn’t say precisely. They had been married for over 60 years, with a five years separation while Charles was prisoner of war in Germany, Poland and Russia. Charles was a beautiful gentle 6.4ft giant with a big voice who could still startle me and put me back in the right path even when I was a young adult. Louise was the beautiful, elegant, wise provider of endless delicious waffles (with cassonade) and conversation in her kitchen. Charles coffin was much bigger than Louise’s as they laid side by side in the church at the funeral. The priest so moved as he read the bible’s song of love instead of the usual funeral texts. I am an atheist but will always thank this man I had never met before for his words. Tomorrow in Paris, their great-granddaughter, her name is Clara Louise, she is 18 and a Law student, will march in Paris for freedom, democracy and solidarity, for Charlie Hebdo, and the victims of the past few days in France. Many others and I will march too.
My grandparents died within 12 hours of each other. In some way it was beautiful.Read more →
For 30 years, I moved homes as quickly as possible. Then I fell in love – and now I’m loving my lesson in staying put
I am a master at leaving.
The first time I left home, I was four years old. Without telling anyone or asking permission, I carted all my toys up the stairs to where my grandmother lived – on the second floor of our house in the suburbs of New York City – and declared that I lived with her. Over the following decade, I did – and that was 10 times longer than I would stay in any one place for the next 20 years.Read more →
The QPR footballer and former England player talks about his gutsy Supermum and how his relationship with his dad grew strong after his parents split
I was named after the Rio Grande, which means Great River. My mum, Janice, thought that sounded good. I Apparently, would have been called Giovanna if I’d been a girl. Gio instead of Rio! Mum was only 17 when she had me, but she was a strong girl. Her Irish mum walked out on the family home in Bermondsey when she was eight. She was one of six kids, but they all mucked in to help their father run the house. My dad, Julian, is from St Lucia. There were 10 in his family and one by one they came to England. Dad was 10 when he came.
Mum and Dad’s story would make a film. When they were dating, passers-by would spit on Mum because she was walking out with a black guy. Dad was also treated badly by the police and people on his estate for being with a white woman. It sounds like a story from apartheid South Africa, but this was London in the 1970s.Read more →
A 26-year-old woman is due to marry the 80-year-old killer – there are precedents, and the motivation is not always cynical
Woman, 26, is to marry mass murderer, Charles Manson, aged 80 and imprisoned for life. How to you react? Do you say, how lovely? Or yuk!
It is hard to imagine a less plausible argument for the restorative qualities of romance than Manson. In prison for the past 45 years for a bout of “hippie” killings, he remains unrepentant and, if last year’s Rolling Stone interview is any guide, deranged. Five years ago a young woman moved to be near his prison, carved his cult emblem into her forehead, and professed a deep love for him. He calls her Star. They have a licence to marry, which grants conjugal visiting rights.Read more →
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