When I was a little girl, freshly turned seven, I woke up one morning to my mother standing in my bedroom over me. This was unusual because my mother never just stood over my bed, she was one of those mothers that would shake you awake then walk away. However, this time she was standing there staring at me.
I was somewhat alarmed because of the abnormality in her actions, I reached over to my table and put my glasses on so I could see the expression on her face; curious if perhaps I was in trouble. When I looked at her face I saw a deep, genuine, sadness and tears cascading from her gray eyes. I was further alarmed, my mother did not cry, I had never seen her cry before that I could remember, yet there she was in my room crying and not saying a word to me.
Very quietly, after sitting at the foot of the bed, she told me, “I’m sorry I have to tell you this, but your Daddy died this morning while we were sleeping.” That was the first time I felt a true loss and heart break. I was crushed, at seven years old, to wake a day after I saw my hero; he was gone.
They told us he had died in his sleep a short time after the nurse had checked on him, that he was just too old and too sick for his body to keep fighting the infection. They said it was painless for him and he still looked peaceful when they found him. I’m still not sure what it is adults talk about while children cry because their parent just died, all I could hear was muffled voices and my own sobs.
As I sat in the church, at his funeral, I didn’t listen to what all the adults said. I stared at his picture and thought to myself, ‘I’m going to miss you and you won’t ever be here with me again, but I will do everything I can to never, ever forget you because you were the greatest daddy in the world.‘
It was several years later, in my wayward adolescence that I decided and announced it to my mother, “I’m going to get a tattoo and the first one I get will be Daddy’s favorite saying and his name and my first son is going to be named after him.” Naturally, like most mothers with teens in the early 2000’s, she laughed it off as something I would forget.
As of December 5, 2008, Gavin Victor was born. As of September 4, 2013, I had the outline of my first tattoo finished: “Kill them all, let God sort ’em out” with my father’s name below it. On Halloween 2013, my mother realized, I may have been a wayward teen, but I meant what I said when I said I was going to honor my father in my own way because the tattoo was revealed to her for the first time, and it covers the upper half of my back in bold and proud letters.
As much as it hurt, and it did hurt, it was worth every minute of the three hour process and every minute of my sketching out the font exactly how I wanted it. With a relationship as beautiful and short as mine was with my father, I will never forget him and I will cherish every tiny memory for the rest of my life that way my children can at least learn who their grandfather was. I loved him in life, I love him in death, and my son now proudly wears his name though they will not meet – I know he would be happy.