Years ago my brother and two of my sisters went to a hypnotist because they thought they wanted to quit smoking. It was one of those seminars where the hypnotist addressed the entire audience and then sold tapes to reinforce what he taught the would-be, hoping-to-be, future nonsmokers. (Some racket, eh?) They decided they could buy one set of tapes, then take them to Mom’s house. That way they could go visit their aging mother and listen to encouraging words on tape all at the same time. Great plan. A sort of “kill two birds with one stone” proposition. Taking care of Momma and easing off their addiction to nicotine. I always thought the whole scenario was funny. For one thing, Mom smoked like a smokestack. Weren’t they going to see and smell her smoking and want to smoke themselves? And the cheapskates–why didn’t they buy their own tapes?! I guess I would say that they didn’t seem particularly committed to the project. But what do I know? I’ve never smoked.
Well, my siblings swore at first that the hypnotic tapes slowed their smoking down a bit. I think they were fooling themselves. They wouldn’t smoke while the tape was playing but they wanted to, especially my youngest sister. I don’t really know, but if I were a betting woman, I would bet that all three of them lit up before they even got out of sight.
I was visiting with Mom after a week or so of the no-smoking pretense when she said to me, “You know, Pat, I have hardly smoked at all the past few days. I don’t know why, but I really haven’t much wanted a cigarette.” I laughed and told her it sounded as if the tapes were working for her, that she’d been hypnotized. I laugh gleefully now as I remember the unsettled look on her face as she said, “Well, they can just play their tapes somewhere else.”
I spent many years, starting when I was three or four years old, begging my mom to stop smoking. I so wanted to be near her and I hated smoke. I still do. When we took her from the hospital to the rehab/nursing facility, she wasn’t allowed to smoke. I remember driving up to the mountains to visit her one day and she informed me with a big smile on her face that she had quit smoking. I exclaimed how proud I was of her. God, how I miss my feisty, sweet momma.