I was always close to my dad. I'm pretty sure the man didn't necessarily understand me, but he accepted me, crazy shenanigans and all. I was his "own little girl" and he was my "own little daddy". When he died back in November 2017, I was heartbroken, and if I had to analyze myself (which I don't have to but I'm an armchair therapist so feel the need to), I would say I've been slightly lost ever since I "lost" him. I'll get more into our relationship eventually, but thought I would share a fun story with you since I've shared a few humorous conversations I've had with my family so far. And heck, my therapist (okay, me) thinks it might be somewhat therapeutic to share some stories that include my dad, too. Before I get into any actual stories involving my dad and me, let me share a few things about the man. He was a doctor, golf was his third child, worked hard, was a good man (most of our town showed up to his "Celebration of Life" Party--yes, we had a party instead of funeral), loved the colors green and brown, and would doodle quite a bit.
His doodles were actually quite intricate. Since he practiced internal medicine, he found himself on the phone with doctors, patients, and hospitals. I'm sure the phone calls could be draining at times, so he would often doodle while on these phone calls. Over the years, his nurse, Susie (who is like family to us since she also worked in my grandfather's medical practice), would collect these doodles; when she retired, she gave him a huge frame with pictures from his office through the years and included copies of some doodles. After he died, my mother gave Susie this back because she thought she might like to have it.
Don't worry. This post will be less depressing soon. I promise.
When my father died, it gutted me. I wasn't there (I was actually on the last day of chaperoning a field trip of 9 and 10 year olds in Thailand). I thought I had more time and would get to see him in December for Christmas...that is a whole other story for another time. But I knew I wanted to memorialize him in some way that I could always have with me. What better way than another tattoo?! I thought this was an excellent idea. I knew I wanted incorporate a doodle in it but just didn't know how yet, so Susie graciously gave me some of the doodle copies and I held onto them for a year or two...waiting for the perfect idea to hit me.
Now, I had 10 tattoos already at the time...mostly small, tiny ones. My favorite, though, was a pineapple on my Achilles tendon. Boy did it hurt like a bitch to get it and I don't get to see it, but I love it because it is original and designed by me to honor my mum and dad. The pineapple stands for my mum and her ability to be one of the most hospitable people ever (we also have tons of pineapples around the house); the inside of the pineapple is a golfball pattern which stands for my dad's love of golf. I knew this new tattoo, when it showed itself to me, would have to match the love of this pineapple tattoo.
One day I was looking outside my window, a year or two after dad died. It was rainy and what I like to call an "Edgar Allan Poe kind of day." Just dreary. And then it hit me: I would get a tattoo of a raven and have dad's doodle put in the center of it, maybe even have it shaded green (because I certainly was not going to have it shaded in with his other favorite color: brown). Why a raven and what does Edgar Allan Poe have to do with dad? EAP wrote a poem entitled The Raven. Growing up, when dad was able to join us for dinners, he would recite a stanza from The Raven:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
My brother and I loved it because he recited the poem so dramatically. Maybe it is one of the reasons I became a literature major in college #5 or why I love reading and books so much. Anyway, he would also say, "Quoth the Raven Nevermore."
The "Edgar Allan Poe kind of day" did it for me. It was an obscure connection to my dad, but I knew it was the right choice then. Besides, though many know of the poem by EAP, they may not know that the raven actually symbolize's the narrator's grief he experienced from losing the love of his life, Lenore. Okay....I'll stop my literature lecture for now.
So, I found the image of the raven I wanted. And I found the doodle I wanted to use. I went to my tattoo artist, Shawn (local tattoo artist in Tampa, Florida...if you'd like his contact info, let me know! Happy to share) and shared my idea. He made it happen. My brother was there of course. I reminded Shawn to put the green in...and this is where the story take a lighter note. I did like the tattoo without the color, but I just felt strongly about having green on there for dad.
That night, I went home and showed my mum and nephew. They both wanted to know why I had gotten this tattoo....They asked, "Why did you get a parrot?" I looked at it and was like, "Um, it's a raven." Wesley replied, "Ravens are black, MeHeather, not green." I tried to explain why I went with the green color. My brother just laughed and compared it to the green quaker parrots that often fly around our house.
So now, when my loving family wants to get under my skin and my tattoo is showing, I hear, "Polly wants a cracker. Polly wants a cracker."
Thanks, dad, for the most permanent ongoing family joke/memento.