BRIDGE, DEVOTION & QUITTING
By Dan Miller
July 20, 2007
Thousands of the country's best bridge players are in Nashville this week.
They're here to compete in the North American Bridge Championship.
I purposely put an "early" photo because -- if she happens to be looking down from somewhere above -- that's probably one of the few photos she would actually approve of me using.
She was quite the bridge player, and would have been good, fun company for all these folks who love the game.
During all the years I was growing up, she and her group(s) would play every week, sometimes more often than that.
They were devoted friends, sisters and competitors.
They'd rotate houses.... and whenever they played at our house we kids knew to stay out of the living room and let the ladies enjoy their evening.
But we'd see and hear them in there, seated around the card table, laughing, sharing desserts, drinking coffee, playing bridge and smoking cigarettes.
In those days -- the 1950s and 1960s -- it seemed to me that almost every adult I knew smoked cigarettes, including my parents.
I don't have the official statistics, but I'd wager that -- back then -- a higher percentage of adults smoked.
It was not nearly as socially unacceptable and restricted as today.
When my Mother had some health problems, the doctor told her that she could not smoke anymore, at all.
Not only that, he told her she couldn't even be around smokers.
Here's where devotion comes in.
My father, who had been a heavy smoker for probably 40 years, stopped that very day.
Cold turkey.... he stopped.... and never mentioned it again.
He never complained, never indicated that he'd like to have a cigarette....
Never showed any signs of withdrawal.
He just never smoked again.
Anyone who's broken the cigarette habit -- and I'm one of them -- knows that's not always so easy.
And here's the other part of this story.
All those women who played bridge with my mother.... every one of them.... stopped smoking as well.
They simply gave it up.
Their priorities were right.
Giving up cigarettes was much easier than giving up my mother, and those games of bridge.
Yep, that's good old fashioned love and devotion.