Coughing better he’d say jovially having cleared his bronchioles once again. (Coughing was both necessary and also had become part of who we knew and loved). Then, spitting in the rose bed, he’d light up again. Sometimes, to be playful, he’d waft Balkan Sobranie in my direction. Ah! Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette, or in his case pipe. Ah! How the tide has turned now.
This was my boss from aged seventeen through to late twenties. On and off. A man, and his family, I owe a great deal to. A love for photograph for one. He had however a healthy disregard for health matters in general, as so many did of his generation. In particular a disregard for noxious fumes. My daily lung diet was, for years, a tobacco and chemical fume fug. All much intensified by being within an unventilated darkroom.
Last time I saw my old boss alive I was already a monk and he was severely disabled with Parkinson’s Disease. Would he recognize me? Know who I was? It was so sad. Then, suddenly he pointed at me all bright eyed and laughed and laughed. My bald head perhaps? I don’t know. I went over to him and held his hand, patting it and silently reciting the three Homages of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in blessing. It was all I could think to do. It was the last time I saw him.
Now I’m wondering if his dear wife is still alive…
We watched a film called Thank You for Smoking a satire on the tobacco industry. It’s well worth watching. Funny too.