Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .

Monday, March 19, 2018

Last Cigarette

My parents weren’t the smoking sort,
They told my sibs and me,
That in a world of healthy choice,
Not smoking was a key.

They two went on a buying trip,
And left me at my friend’s.
(And incidentally, this is where,
My smoking story ends.)

For just one week, they’d be away,
I found myself, aged ten,
The happy week-long dweller
With the best of my best friends.

For several days, all went as planned,
Just her and me and fun,
But then her cousin came, to whom
We small-town girls were dumb.

She took control. My friend and me,
We simply watched in awe.
We learned the gentle art of theft,
 And life outside the law.

My best friend’s cousin stole some change,
And bought a pack of smokes,
I weakly tried to protest,
Yep. Was thinking of my folks.

“Let’s go somewhere we won’t get caught,”
The Cousin said to us,
“We don’t want parents hanging round,
To make a silly fuss!”

She looked at me, “Your folks are gone!
And your house sits there bare.
I sighed. I wanted so to please.
Like a deer in headlights. Snared.

My parent’s townhouse, empty sat,
‘Twas summer—time to farm,
But I knew where the keys were hid
And what would be the harm?

So silent and obedient,
We trailed her to my place,
Crept inside the silent loo,
Put on our bravest face.

She showed us how to ‘light them up’,
 And how to make them glow,
I must admit, I thought ‘twas neat,
I felt mature and old.

Now, I knew that both my folks,
Weren’t due till sometime ‘hence’.
Turns out that phrase means just the same,
S’the one for ‘Present tense’.

My best friend’s sister, posted there,
On bright-eyed watch, was she,
Came running in, “You’re folks are here!”
Not one of us believed.

And then behind her came my mom,
We both were quite surprised.
And I put down my cigarette,
Then paused to be chastised.

“I’m disappointed, dear,” said she,
“I thought we taught you well,
Now you go out and join your dad,
While I dispense this smell.”

With lagging feet, I dragged myself,
To the car, where Daddy sat,
He took one look at my set face,
Was silenced, just like that.

Mom told my dad what I had done,
While they two were away,
And then he spoke. I’ll not forget
The words he used that day.

“I’m disappointed, Hon,” said he,
“I thought you, better, knew,
“We trusted you to live your life,
The way that we would do.”

And with each word, I knew for sure,
I’d smoked my last, because,
I discovered that I wished to be
All my daddy was.

And incidentally, it’s not nice,
When Daddy’s blue eyes turned to ice.

Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin,
With gentle thoughts--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Now post our poems for you to see.

And when you’ve read what we have brought,
Did we help? Or did we not . . .

Next week, we'll share ('Tis just for you),
Our favourite thing to see. Or do!


  1. Lesson learned! I was quite a bit harder to convince that smoking wasn't good. However, I managed to throw them away and never looked back. In fact I got rid of (4) bad habits in one year; I threw two of them out of the house, their mother moved out, and I quite smoking.....

    1. Hard to pick which one was the hardest on your health . . .

  2. Nothing worse than Daddy being disappointed in you...been there, done thakt...waaaaaaay too often.

  3. How is it that our parents show up exactly at the wrong time? Or perhaps it's always just the right time . . . for a lesson. We're lucky to have had parents who cared, eh?

    Wonderfully written. And next week's topic is duly noted! Your topics are always fun!

    1. Parents just have the knack. I always walked in during the worst part of a movie. I'd look at my kids with that "what the heck are you watching?!" look and they'd scramble to tell me that was the only bad scene in the movie. Sometimes, I even believed them! :) I'm so happy you're enjoying the themes!

  4. Familiar ground. Why oh why are so many of life lessons accompanied by feelings of shame.

  5. My husband's smoking career (I think he was seven) ended when he asked his grandfather for a light - everyone still laughs about it (his grandfather lit the cigarette hoping my husband would get sick from smoking it) but yes, we really do internalize our elders teaching at an early age - and yes, my husband was caught and never smoked again.

  6. Oh gosh---that first time......all the guilt. I totally felt the same when I got caught!

  7. My siblings and I grew up surrounded by smokers, parents, neighbours, yet none of us ever smoked. my husband did and now both my sons, but not my daughters although one did begin, but a boyfriend stopped her by saying if you want to marry me you'll have to give that up and she did right then.


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