|Dedicated to the Memory of
My great-grandfather, Manlis Randle, lived to
be ninety-four years old; my grandfather, Tom Randall,(2)
the youngest child of slaves, lived to be ninety-seven years old. My father,
an educated black man of the twentieth century, lived only to seventy-nine.
He died of cancer after smoking cigarettes for over sixty years. He tried
to quit smoking many times. He tried to quit smoking after developing throat
cancer at sixty-two years old; he tried to quit after his brother, Arthur
Randall, died of lung cancer; he tried the patches; he tried cold turkey;
he tried hypnosis; he tried every smoking cessation known to man (or woman);
he wanted to quit; he wanted a long life; but no matter how hard he tried,
he always returned to his mentholated cigarettes. The first thing in the
morning, (a smoke), the last thing at night (a smoke). My father smoked
himself into an early grave. Cigarettes deprived me of a father and deprived
my children of a grandfather. Who knows--with the longevity in my family,
they probably deprived my grandchildren of a great-grandparent.