A Cigar By The Sea


“If smoking is not allowed in heaven, I shall not go.”
-–Mark Twain

My Granddad was a cigar smoker. In fact, it defined him.

I have such a vivid image of him burned in my brain. Yesterday I thought I saw him!

We were at our favorite spot on the Island, searching for some of the elusive mink that scramble on the rocks, when a man appeared who was a dead ringer for my long-departed Grandfather (my Mom’s Dad) – complete with cigar! A seriously big cigar.

And my Grandpa was a dead ringer for Alfred Hitchcock … or Winston Churchill. Freaky!

“I drink a great deal.
I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar.
That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form.”

– Winston Churchill

Throughout my childhood I was fascinated by Grandpa’s cigar ritual. It began with a cellophane-sheathed cigar – a permanent fixture in his shirt pocket – that was ceremoniously withdrawn. I was allowed the honor of pulling the thin red strand that unwrapped and released the Cracker Jack prize – the cherished “cigar band.” Depending on the girth of the cigar, the paper ring might fit my finger, thumb, or big toe. It didn’t matter – I was enthralled. He always said it meant we were engaged.

Next came the sniffing. With his eyes closed, he would draw the cigar slowly beneath his nose, then a faint smile would grace his lips.

He was a simple man, so there was no licking or clipping. He went straight to the lighting ceremony which always required copious puffing to create a cloud of smoke that engulfed his head. It released a pungent aroma that to this day still reminds me of him.

Then once he was into the rhythm of the ritual, he would fan his fingers along the length of the cigar, playing an imaginary flute … just like this guy!


As we scanned the rocks for mink, to no avail, I kept glancing at this man enjoying his own ritual of a cigar by the sea, and felt I’d had a surprise visit from my Grandpa.


“If I had taken my doctor’s advice and
quit smoking when he advised me to,
I wouldn’t have lived to go to his funeral.”
-–(98 year old) George Burns

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