In this time and place, tattoos are everywhere. It’s common to see them on just about everyone we meet who are in their twenties and thirties. My wife has three herself and I have one. The one tattoo that is emblazoned on my skin is a tribute. It’s a remembrance of a man who meant the world to me. The man who instilled a set of morals that has shaped and haunted me as I grew into the man I am today. My grandfather, a distinguished man, a stand up man, a comical man, and a compassionate man, who loved his family and always strived to do what was best for all of us. My grandmother was just as equal as he was and many times superceded this man who I looked up to so much.
When I was young, he would take me flying. A friend of his was a courier and would let him borrow the plane on the weekends. I can’t tell you how many flights I have taken, but I remember the experiences well. My grandfather built a booster seat for me, made of extra foam for re-upholstering airplane seats. I remember taking the wheel and flying the plane myself, and I remember a time when he actually allowed me to land the plane. It wasn’t a smooth landing, but I did land the plane with his help. Apparently, you’re not supposed to pull on the wheel/stick when the wheels reach the runway.
Anyway, my grandfather was a person who loved aviation. He loved history about WWI and WWII. Being that he was born in 1930, there was more there than a history buff. He lived through WWII as a child. He experienced many things from poverty and learned that family was more than blood. My tattoo is of a WWI/WWII bi-plane with the first letter of his last name and 1930, the year he was born, as the plane’s call letters. It took me close to a year to figure out for sure just how I wanted the tattoo to look and it took only a few hours to put it permanently upon my skin.
Today, my cousin was wed. Today was the first time she’s seen the tattoo and it brought her to tears. My aunt loved it and said that my grandfather would too. It’s something that I still get choked up about sometimes. There’s more meaning to this tattoo than I could’ve hoped for. Everyone in my family who sees it, knows the meaning instantly. Everyone who met my grandparents, loved them instantly. With my grandmother’s cooking, and my grandfathers love for aviation, they loved life more than I can imagine.
During the reception to the wedding, we noticed just how many people our age have tattoos. With seeing so many, I almost wanted to ask these people what was the meaning of their tattoos. Some are tatted more than others, but there is always a reason for them. There’s always a story. From times past, when tattoos were frowned upon and associated with lower class and criminals; they have now become something of representation and expression about our lives. The world I live in is of art and expression. It’s a world full of experiences and those who influence who we become.
So with expression, I love what my wife, Cyndi, said recently to someone who asked about her tattoos. She said, “If the bible says my body is my temple, doesn’t that make my tattoos my stained-glass windows?”