My mother passed away recently and even though this is part of the circle of life, it was still a shock. Yes, 88 is a good age to live to but quality of life is what we all want for our parents, as well as a long life. Her sister is 93 and still going strong.

We all cope with death differently but I find it hard to cope with the fact that the way my mother’s death came about was through a choice she made when she was young.

My mum was a smoker. She took up smoking at an early age when everyone was doing it. Both my parents smoked and both had severe problems in later life that possibly may not have happened if they made different choices at an earlier age.

Mum stopped smoking for a while but took it up again thinking that “it won’t happen to me,” despite our conversations with her about the health risks of smoking. But it did happen to her. She ended up with degenerative heart disease and COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (or emphysema as it used to be called).

It is not nice to see your parent ending up permanently on oxygen and having to take strong drugs in an effort to keep the airways open – it’s painful to watch them not being able to walk from one side of the room to the other without having to sit down and get their breathing under control.

As a non-smoker (being an asthmatic it is not a healthy option) I am often accused of banging on about people smoking but I have to say to those who think that it’s cool because all their friends are doing it – don’t! Yes, it may seem cool when you are young but please believe me when I say it often comes at a price. Never think that “it won’t happen to me” because it just might and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Breathe easy.
Nā Nann Berry.