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Just a Signature

I'll get this out now: my father is dead. He passed away in March of this year due to liver failure complications. I heard a saying once that, "parents will always mess up their children," and I unfortunately have to agree. Growing up with an abusive alcoholic father for twenty years isn't easy, and I'm sure it wasn't my mother's first choice in terms of father figures. However, we managed; I managed. And no one discussed the matter until it was too late for him.

As a teenager I became interested in piercings, stretched piercings, and tattoos. When sixteen hit I was ecstatic – I could get pierced on my own! Those were times of great elation from new piercings, and great arguments from my mother. My father never said anything of the matter when I got a tragus piercing, although my mother grounded me for two weeks. My father didn't appear to notice my labret; my mother didn't speak to me for two weeks. My father didn't say anything when I stretched my ears, my mother begged me every day to take them out and "Stop, honey." My father didn't say anything when a pair of tunnels got stuck in my ears and I almost had to make a trip to the ER – he just prepared himself with pliers and vice grips.

Although getting new piercings was dramatic and exciting, nothing got my attention more than a tattoo. I decided to be kind and broach the subject with my mother; she seemed to be the one with issues anyhow. Those issues were well-grounded: she is not only a physician; she was the Medical Director of Neonatology until recently and is now the Head of Research for Neonatology working out of Toronto. I respect her decisions because they are generally based on science, and when she was adamant against tattooing I respected her decision. I abstained from tattooing solely because she asked me not too, and justified herself with her own medical opinion.

This did not deter me from planning tattoos out, however. I decided on the one I would get first: three concentric circles of descending size in a vertical line, the colour of henna. I would want this on the nape of my neck. I settled on this design and kept it in my head for about four years. This is my signature; I incorporate it in almost every design or art piece I create. I would like to be considered something I would sign, if I created myself.

In March, I left a histology lab at 8:00am to head to the hospital. I spoke with my father, touched his hand, and accepted that he loved us. We each spoke to him one-on-one and I didn't know what to say. Through his oxygen mask he pointed at my ears – with various piercings and 00g stretched lobes. He smiled and said,

"Those... I like those, keep it up. They look good." I was so shocked; I teared up and smiled, and thanked him sincerely. That was the most honest and brilliant thing he could have said to me. In those words, he summed up what my mother explained later: That they had argued about me before, and he always thought I was just being myself with piercings and tattoos, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that. He supported me the whole time. He had said if I wanted to be an individual, we have no right to stop it.

As soon as I heard that my decision was made, I was getting the tattoo I had decided on four years ago. My best friend and I went together, he was getting a design I created for him on his right shoulder. The process was very simple, it didn't even hurt that much, although it did give me goose-bumps. I sat down and carried on conversations about gymnastics, drawing, trampoline, even fire breathing. The entire process took about 40 minutes. My artist, Bert, was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. He insisted I make all the decisions about placement, size, and colour, because this means something to me... not him. In the end, I was absolutely delighted with what I saw, and had to hide watery eyes when I looked in the mirror. It was exactly what I pictured: three circles in a vertical line, descending in size, the colour of henna – my signature.

A few days later, I am still in love. Sly glances while I'm getting dressed or putting my hair up gives me a smile. The healing is just beginning, the skin is uncomfortable and dry, set to scab or peel soon I'm told. But all that reddish brown pigment is worth the scabbing or peeling, for all the smiles it gives me.

During the process Bert asked me what this tattoo symbolized and what it meant. I smiled to myself and said casually,

"Not much, it's just a signature." But in my head I thought, "It's because my dad is dead."


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 13 Oct. 2008
in Tattoos

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Artist: Bert
Studio: Way+Cool+Tattoos
Location: Oakville%2C+Ontario

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