It took Skye less than five minutes to notice it. She’d just returned home from three weeks at her dads, and the initial euphoria of seeing each other again hadn’t even subsided before she was pointing to my collarbone and exclaiming in excitement.
“You got another tattoo mommy?” she squealed.
I wasn’t really surprised; she has always been fascinated with the ink on my body. Even before she was old enough to vocalize her fascination. As a baby she would pull at my skin, uncomprehending these strange markings that refused to rub off.
In the last year she has started begging me to get one herself, and is always unwilling to accept my requirement of waiting another 12 to 13 years, minimum. Waiting to be 16 is something my four-year-old simply can’t imagine, but I know the day will be here before I can blink.
I think tattoos are beautiful, most of them anyway, and I can’t wait to see what my daughter decides to get as her first one. I’d like to take her to her first appointment, as my own mother only somewhat reluctantly took me.
Obviously this is not my first tattoo, it’s lucky number seven actually, but it is by far my most meaningful and unique one so far. I got the words “Smile Sunshine” along my right collarbone. The unique part is that while it’s backwards and indiscernible to anyone else looking at it, I can read it clearly each time I look in a mirror.
Meaningful because it’s something my uncle used to say to me when I was feeling down. This favorite uncle died December 1, 2011, after suffering from complications due to multiple sclerosis.
Even though he lived halfway across the country my entire life, our relationship was a special one, and full of love. Sunshine was his nickname for me. He was always reminding me to share my smile with the world, even on my darkest days.
He was a friend, father figure and most trusted confidante.
His illness came on slowly at first – it wasn’t until the last couple years of his life that I realized just how little time I had left with him. That’s why this tattoo isn’t just a reminder of the man I loved who is now gone; it’s also a reminder to cherish every second I have with those I care about and still have around, because any moment could be our last together.
The tattoo taboo of my parent’s generation is fading, much like the tattoos themselves. By the time Skye is my age the sight of ink on a person’s skin will likely have no more meaning than the artistic expression intended.
Whatever tattoos my daughter may one day decide to put on her body, may she love each and every one of them. If when she gets older she decides she doesn’t want any at all, I will happily accept that too. The only thing I’d like is for none of her tattoos to have the particular meaning or importance as my most recent one. I hope each one is special to her in its own way, as mine all are, just not in memory of a loved one lost too soon. Only because I’d like to save her from that pain, as long as possible.
This tattoo will in no way be my last. It will however remain one that fills me with the most intense of emotions. Both happiness as it reminds me of my Uncle Brett, and also a reminder of the pain I still feel from his loss.