At one time in his life, my grandfather chain-smoked upwards of three packs of cigarettes a day. Camels unfiltered. Serious cowboy stuff. In fact, we used to call him "Smokey" – not because of his nicotine addiction, but because my grandfather was covered in thick, brown fur, like a bear. Also, he was a forest ranger.
Everyone encouraged him to quit, particularly my grandmother. (We called her Stella, because that was her name.) She would say, "Smokey, you gotta stop this. You're gonna get cancer and I don't want to bury you. Please, I love you, now quit these nasty things."
We all echoed this sentiment, warning my grandfather about cancer. So eventually, out of respect to his family and, hopefully, to himself, he made up his mind to quit cigarettes. Then, when people would ask Smokey if he had a spare cigarette, he'd say, "No, sir, I do not. But I do have a hug." My grandfather believed this was good karma.
That's what made it so much more terrible and ironic when, five years later, my grandfather died of hug cancer. He's buried in Albany, and his gravestone reads, "Here Lies Huggy Bear" – not because of his habit of giving out hugs, or his thick fur, but because my grandfather was a pimp and a police informant.