When my mother died, the music of my life was an étude in staccato. Each moment, each memory detached from one another; repetitive short snippets of a life spent together. A minute felt like forever, an hour an eternity.
A razor like sharpness lived in every memory and cut me to the core of my soul. Even now, 6 years later, the grief can be overpowering. At the most unexpected moments, it manifests as an orchestra of memories playing through my mind and I am consumed with the music that was her and I. Listening to the rhythm, I become engulfed in emotion. A deceptive cadence follows until once again the orchestra plays with all its beauty and force. The music of my memories eventually returns to adagio; restful, at ease and I am at peace once again.
I don’t know why I decided to honor the melody of my mother and I and who we were together with a tattoo. She would not have necessarily approved of my choice. I know I will carry her in my heart forever, but I wanted, needed more permanence; a visible presence. The love I have for my mother is not a temporary emotion. It is forever and so is my tribute.
I thought for a long time about what I wanted. Each aspect of my body art tribute has special significance. I finally made the decision 6 months after her death.
The roses are from a photo of the Rio Sambas we planted in the garden. Their biggest and brightest blooms always seem to occur near her birthday, December 7th. I like to think it is my mother, sending me visible proof of her love.
The wording in Italian is for me because it’s how I choose to live my life. “Vivere e amare senza rimpianti.” Live and love without regrets. I learned a long time ago that regrets are a waste of energy. You can’t change what has happened, you can only choose to move forward.
And the birds? They are Mockingbirds, the state bird of Texas. They have extraordinary vocal abilities; they can sing up to 200 songs, including the songs of other birds, insects, and amphibian sounds. They are a multifaceted musical bird; like the song of my mother and I. The Texas legislature elected to have the mockingbird as the state bird back in 1927, one year before my mother was born.
They noted that “The mockingbird is found in all parts of the State, in winter and in summer, in the city and in the country, on the prairie and in the woods and hills … is a singer of distinctive type, a fighter for the protection of his home, falling, if need be, in its defense, like any true Texan …”
And that, my friends, was my mother. A true Texan with a distinctive voice, defending those she loved and her home at whatever cost.