This really should not be one of my favorite photos of my dad. If he didn’t smoke he might still be here, but strangely enough I have some good memories of him smoking. I’ll always love the smell of tobacco, of a newly opened pack of cigarettes. When I think about him, think about talking to him, I think of him pausing to take a drag off his cigarette, thinking for a moment, exhaling and then continuing to talk. Sometimes at night he’d write my brother’s and my name in the air, going so fast that we could almost see all the letters at once. We gave him fancy lighters for Father’s Day, cracked up when he pulled the No Smoking sign off the dashboard of a car he’d rented and lit up a smoke while he was driving. He had a trick where he’d hold a lit cigarette end to end between his thumb and first finger. It was cool.
It’s weird to me that I can have any fondness for an addiction that led to my dad’s early death, but there it is.
I’d never seen this photo until earlier this week when a box from my stepmom arrived in the mail. She found one last stash of my dad’s old photos, nearly all of them from before 1978 or so, and sent them to me. So many that I’d never seen before – the one above was taken in November of 1970 and was still in the envelope from the camera shop where it was developed. I’m not sure why I love it so much. Maybe just because it’s him and it’s a fantastic photo, the flame from his match lighting his face and jumping out of the shot.