Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Seven Deadly Sins: Denial

My Aunt Beth was an important person for me.  She was my mother's older sister by 12 years, and was a twin.  She and her family lived in Colorado Springs, and some of my earliest memories are of waking up surrounded by looms in their strange and wonderful home.  A weaver by trade, Aunt Beth was a consummate crafts person.  She was feisty and energetic, and with her quick mind and strong sense of humor, she was fun to be with.   She bought an RV, and became a snowbird, driving from Colorado to Arizona every fall and returning in the spring.  She would stop to stay with us on her way and kept us updated on the ins and outs of her life.  But there was one problem:  she smoked. 

Her health began to deteriorate.  She had a terrible cough, and because of it, became incontinent.  She often smelled of urine.  When she would visit, I would make her go outside to smoke, and she would stand at the open door, inches from the screen, continuing her conversation with me, all the while puffing away.  Diagnosed with emphysema, she started using oxygen on a regular basis.  She could no longer make the trips to Arizona, and we stopped seeing her as much.  The last time I saw her she had two small, clear tubes coming from her nostrils attached to a tank of oxygen and she reeked of urine.  As we talked, she  carefully turned off her oxygen so she could light up, and then explained to me how all of this bad health had come about, not because of her smoking, but because of ozone depletion in the atmosphere.  She died a few years later from complications of the emphysema. 

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