Yawp! and Memento Mori aren’t words that you see often, or in my case, ever…at least until last month. Yet, they currently adorn my youngest child’s ever so petite frame! My daughters seem to have a thing for unique tattoos…not ones that cover every centimeter of their skin, but tats that have some significance in their worlds. I’m still not convinced that I want something permanently covering my body, in large part because gravity is consistently taking over as the years go by, and what once was a beautiful sparrow may closely resemble roadkill in a few years’ time. My girls, on the other hand, are not of the same mindset. Friends for life, they opted to have three sparrows engraved on each of their physiques. I thought a hug would suffice, but they felt these birds are a representation of who they are because no matter where they end up in this world, they will always migrate back to each other. Touching, yes, but not something that couldn’t be summed up just as easily with matching rings! That said, this tattoo suits their friendship.
Our journey into the world of permanent body art began following my father’s death five years ago when my second child was the first to jump into the ring of no return. On her back are the words ‘To the moon and back’ with an Ace of Hearts etched over the quote. Given that Dad taught all of his grandchildren how to play cards, starting with ‘Pass the Ace’, Syd felt that the Ace was a tribute to a man that she loved. At the same time, I had a tendency to tell her that I loved her ‘to the moon and back’ a gazillion times over. Hence, these words are now inked across her shoulder. Had I known that this was where she was headed, I would have simply signed ‘I love you’ on a regular basis. But she loves the tattoo, and although she can’t see it (have I mentioned that it’s on her back), she is happy with it.
Since then, my girls have come home with small permanent momentos…an ‘ohm’ symbol following one child’s trek with spiritual healers…and the words ‘GRL PWR’ on a hip because…well, I’m not sure, but given that I have very free-spirited daughters, I’m going to guess it has to do with female empowerment.
So where am I going with this blogging tribute to my daughters’ inked adornments? I may have mentioned that life threw us a seriously brutal curveball this year with my mother’s cancer diagnosis. Cancer is not a forgiving nor a gentle disease, but Mom handled her terminal prognosis with an optimism and class that continues to amaze me. Her message was consistently that we are all going to die sometime, although some sooner than we would like. What is important is to ‘live your best life…to love your life while you’re living it…and to create lasting memories’.
So, my youngest took her words to heart and decided to indulge in a few tats during her trip through Peru in tribute to Grandma. In she walked with the word Yawp! engraved onto her arm, Memento Mori in script on her back and an Ace of Hearts on her hand. You may be picking up that I’m not a huge fan of permanent art on any surface of my physique, so you can imagine the less than enthused expression I was trying so badly to hide when she showed me the newest additions to her body art. Since when was Latin a thing in her world? That said, these words spoke Grandma to her bright and clear and act as a reminder that we need to live life to the fullest because it definitely doesn’t last forever. And Yawp…well, okay, there was some level of redemption there as it came from Dead Poets’ Society, one of our favorite movies ever with Robin Williams. As Brooklyn interprets it, giving somebody your best Yawp is living your best version of yourself, something that Mom was always striving for throughout her life. And although Mom was even less a fan of tattoos than I am, she may have been slightly touched that Brooklyn felt the need to make these tributes to her permanent.
That said, following the addition of the Ace of Heart on her hand, she chose to take a swim in Bolivia in salt water. (Fun fact! You shouldn’t do that when a tattoo is fairly fresh.) Unfortunately, the top layer no longer exists and all that remains is a very faded version of the original tattoo. I like to think that Mom was giving Brooklyn a very clear message…à la knock it off variety.
All that said, despite losing Mom or more importantly, because I did, I am reminded daily that life is meant to be lived…to be enjoyed…and to be celebrated. I experience this with my daughters, my students, and my friends. Mom was a shining example of what it meant to Yawp your way through life, and so today, I choose to make the words permanent…on my vision board…as a reminder of what she represented when she was with us. Memento mori, Mom. I miss you!