Today I am getting a tattoo. Not my first. But most likely my last. I love tattoos.  But I am not one who finds it personally practical to have them all over me.   I do appreciate a nice well thought out piece of body art on others though.   I think my fascination started when my uncle came home from the Navy with his nickname drawn permanently on his arm.  I thought he was kinda like Popeye, only his tattoo didn’t say “Popeye” and my uncle is way taller and much more handsome.  I thought he was absolutely the coolest man in the world! I was six. {He also sent me a “Kissing Barbie” for my birthday that year all the way from Connecticut, so that may have played into it .}  Over the years my love of Barbies faded away, but as for the tattoos…well, that didn’t.

When that show Miami Ink started up I would spend hours watching it on weekends.  I love the stories behind each one.  No one ever walked into that shop and picked a drawing off the wall or out of an idea book.  {Alright, maybe they did, but thank goodness those were edited out.} Each person had a reason for their choice.  Many were in memory of a lost loved one, as mine are.  You get the people who want to honor their kids, their parents, their lover, their hobby, our country or all of the above.  There was one story that I have yet to top…wait I can…but I will get to that in a bit….My second favorite tattoo story is about a grilled cheese sandwich. What??? Yep, a grilled cheese sandwich.  If you are lucky, you may have caught this fabulous episode.  This sweet Catholic lady was cooking up some lunch one day.  After taking a bite of her concoction of bread, butter, and cheese she placed it on her paper plate.  What did she see seared into the
toasted bread?? Well, Jesus’ face of course! Long story short…she could not continue to eat and actually placed the sandwich in a little plastic case.  Then money got tight and she had to sell it on EBay.  After selling her prized Jesus-Toast she was really sad.  But luckily she had taken a picture of it for the EBay sale…and so she took that snapshot into the tattoo parlor and had it permanently drawn, in true sandwich size, right on her…ummm…heart. And boy, did she have a big heart. Completely ridiculous, yet entertaining.

But, my absolute favorite tattoo is sketched on the side of my little brother.  He had a few; all but one had to do with the memory of someone he lost.   Already, there were too many. And this one in particular was no exception.  As our dad lay in his hospital bed gravely ill from that rotten parasite we call cancer, my nutty brother said under his breath, “I see another tattoo coming.”  You see, a few of our family members are pretty demented.  I am no exception. But most the others gathered at the bedside that day didn’t quite have the same appreciation to dark humor as my brother and I.  Mercifully nobody else but me caught this…ummm…inappropriate remark.  Well, except maybe our father, who was knocked out on a cocktail of painkillers.  The nurses said he could still possibly hear us.  If he did, I am sure he would have chuckled. {Let me give you one guess who my brother and I got our sense of humor from.}

A couple of days after our dad passed away my brother had his tattoo.

Years ago when my brother was about ten, our dad came into his room with a framed picture of himself taken in Hawaii and placed it on the dresser.  It never left my brother’s room, even when he grew up and moved out. I noticed that it has also followed him across the world to his tiny apartment in South Korea.  What is the picture and what is the tattoo? Well, it’s a colorful picture of our dad from the early 1980’s standing with an old-school surfboard on some beach in Hawaii….wearing a Speedo. And it’s fantastic.

This leads me to mine….My dad went into the hospital on my birthday two years ago.  The day after my birthday, he was diagnosed with cancer. He never left the hospital.  He was my partner in sarcastic crime, my advisor in how best wrangle my mouth in a world of polite society, my favorite character in the world….my biggest fan.   He called me and my three younger siblings his “birds”.  I had the privilege of speaking at his memorial. There, I explained the meaning behind his tender endearment…….

“My dad’s favorite thing to call us kids was “his birds”…It sounded so normal and cute when I was little, but its meaning didn’t really ever hit me until I was a parent myself.  See, when a bird builds a nest, it’s for the eggs.  The mother and father birds spend every ounce of their energies gathering what they need in order to assemble a home for those upcoming young.  Once the eggs have arrived, they do all they can to protect and feed their little ones.  This is also a period where the parents are teaching their babies. They’re teaching them to fly.  That’s the whole point of the cycle…to grow up and to be let go.  I think it’s sweet that in the last few years of seeing all of his “birds” grow up that my dad had turned to his backyard for a new hobby…bird watching.  He too was prepared.”

So I will be getting a sparrow. On my back left shoulder blade….the word fly will be incorporated into the swirls of the feathers.  He taught me to  fly as a little girl, and as a reluctant grown-up I am doing my best….My dad will forever be soaring over my heart.

Also, if someone pisses me off, all I have to do is turn and walk away from them; in a sense, I‘m kinda giving them the bird.


3 responses »

  1. Ok, I know this is only the 3rd post… but this is your best yet! I loved it! Now you need to write/tell your fans about your other tattoo!

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