A co-worker complimented me on my paperclip holder this morning.
It’s an ashtray.
My grandmother (father’s side) LOVED to smoke. She loved it like some people love their pets. It was her hobby.
When we were children, my brother and I would argue over who got to flick the Bic to light her Chesterfields, secondhand smoke be damned.
After her diagnosis of lung cancer/heart disease, she halfheartedly tried to quit. I remember looking outside one Thanksgiving and noticing smoke drifting up from the open driver-side door of her K-car. She may have sort of tried to take her doctor’s advice to quit, but she wasn’t taking any orders off of anybody.
After she died, I found secret stashes of Chesterfields all over her house, in handbags, dresser drawers and cabinets. They seemed like dirty secrets, and finding them made me wish that everybody had just shut up and let the woman smoke after her condition was diagnosed as terminal. Instead, she seems to have spent her last couple of years sneaking cigarettes only when she could get all the caretakers out of the house.
This is only one of the entirely awesome collection of ashtrays that I inherited from her. Most are very evocative of the ’60s and ’70s, and there’s not a plain one among them. Like her, they’re colorful and weird, and they don’t really go with anything.
She died in the fall when I was a college freshman. Every year about this time I realize that I’m becoming more like her as I get older (sans the smoking and multiple divorces), and we could have some great conversations if she was still around. We could have spent the last 20 years taking those crazy guided bus tours that she liked, smoking our way around the continent.
She would have been a blast on a cruise ship.
Instead, I’ve got the grooviest ashtrays you’ve ever seen. They may never see another cigarette, but they’re great reminders of a majestically weird lady that I wish had been around longer.