I open up the drawer where I know the famous cigarettes are. The smell is dusty and they are nestled in next to my old wooden abacus with the tattered directions. On the back of the abacus are the words "LISA HERTZI (Property of) DO NOT DESTROY" in Papa Joes handwriting. Who he thought would destroy my abacus, I don’t know.
After a lifetime of smoking Lucky Strikes (LSMFT) he had stepped down to Camels in his 50’s but still eschewed anything with a filter. “That’s more poison than the tobacco” he’d say as I pulled out another filtered Benson Hedges and rolled my eyes. This pack of camels is famous because it was the last one – never opened - still in its crispy cellophane with the red “OHIO Taxes Paid 61267 20 CIGARETTES” stamp on the bottom.
Love is why they were the last, Love and a doctor great at instilling the fear of a grim afterlife if you didn’t follow his directions. That was the first time my mom got really sick. “Joe, if you continue smoking it will kill her.” The truth is that I never liked this doctor, despite the fact that he had a z in his name, my favorite letter as a kid. He mostly took my mother's advice and directions when it came to her health and she loved him for it. Her collection of ills, many real, many suspect, were a challenge to our family, but this one was so real that Papa put the last pack in the drawer and never smoked again.
Once he told me he had secretly named the pack “Bump” so he would never be tempted to break it open. Bump was his pet name for my mother.