By Candy Turner
In celebration of the Heart Network’s 20th incorporation anniversary, I offer this memorable client story.
At this client meeting, the fellow was explaining his smoking habit: down from two packs a day to one pack a day, even though he had had two recent heart attacks. He went on to say that he just enjoyed the pleasure of the habit despite its detrimental effects. Being in his mid-40s, he also explained he had built a very successful business, owned a beautiful home overlooking a lake, had a lovely young wife, and their daughter was about to deliver their first grandchild.
I don’t know what gave me the temerity to ask him this question, but after a few seconds of silence I said, “So you have a successful business, a beautiful home, a lovely wife, and your daughter is about to deliver your first born grandchild, and you continue to smoke despite having 2 heart attacks? If you die, your young wife will probably remarry, this man will probably live in your beautiful home, and your grandbaby will call some other man ‘Grandpa'”! Our meeting ended and he said he didn’t need any further counseling because he could “handle it himself.” The end result: the Heart Network held a one-year quit celebration, which this man attended with his wife, daughter, and beautiful granddaughter!
While this was a notable success, I count the lessons learned from other clients and affronted smokers as just as great an achievement — such as:
- Offering suggestions but letting clients choose for themselves their own way to work their plan.
- Insight and being less judgmental, from the mother who had quit smoking even though her son had been murdered, but had started again when required to attend his murderer’s parole hearing.
- Quiet confidence when confronted by angry smokers at a celebration we organized when New York State ordered bars to go smoke-free.
- Or, even though I was a non-smoker, being able to share the heartache of the personal story of my father’s several heart attacks, starting at age 45 and culminating at his death at 54, while he continued to “sneak cigarettes.”
- Appreciation of the struggles faced by those who are addicted.
I also treasure the most capable talents and gifts in Margot Gold’s leadership; her wisdom in allowing us to deal with clients per our creative natures; her friendship over the years; and wonderful memories forged in relationship to Heart Network co-workers. Kudos!
Working for the Heart Network was the most creative, incredibly challenging, and rewarding job I’ve ever held.
Do you have a story or memory about the Heart Network to share? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.