Priss, I would look over my shoulder. You never know who is there. Guess who is. Dad
Forever I will have this etched on my left shoulder as a way of honoring my dad.
My dad was sick for a long time. He was an alcoholic, and it was rough. It was rough to grow up as an only child, a little girl with a sick father. There were ups, and there were downs, and one day, I plan to write more in depth in reference to “my story.” For now, I am going to keep focused on this post: Guess Who Is.
My senior year of high school, I did the “senior things.” One of these included purchasing a “senior ad” in the yearbook. Most students have family members write a message to them to include on their page, and I excitedly followed this trend. I had my mom, my dad, and my grandparents write me separate notes to be included next to my picture.
My dad, his non-technology, no-computer-self, handwrote a letter in the only blue pen he ever wrote with on the same yellow legal pad that always sat on his desk, and he gave it to me.
At first read, the letter was a little weird. It was sloppy, and there were some grammatical errors. But it was the last few lines of the letter that threw me off the most. “I would look over my shoulder. You never know who is there.” He even signed it, “Guess who is—Dad.” Not “Love always,” or “I love you.” Why would he write this? He was there physically. I could call, and he would answer. It all seemed very obscure to me, and I did not really like it.
So, I tweaked his letter to fit my liking. I omitted a few lines (including the last two), corrected the grammar, and turned it in so that it would appear on my page the way I wanted.
That was that.
Our incredible yearbook was published. My page was everything I had dreamt of, and my wonderful uncle and his family even surprised me with a smaller separate page dedicated to me from them. I graduated, and life was swell.
Fast forward eight months
I am a freshman in college at the University of Georgia, and I receive a phone call at 4 o’clock in the morning that my dad has passed away. My world has changed. Forever.
I cried. I grieved. I mourned. We had a beautiful memorial service. I spoke at it, and I am so thankful that others were able to hear me speak from my heart. Life moved on, and slowly, I recovered. I thought about my dad often. Wonderful people came alongside me and supported me. I was dedicated and vowed to continue succeeding. Life was not the same. It will never be the same. But I adjusted and coped and grew exponentially as a person.
January 10, 2016: The first anniversary of his death
I had not read, much less thought about the note my dad wrote me since he wrote it in 2013. On this day, I asked my mom to find the letter for me. I read it, and it hit me. It fell into place. My dad had died, but he was not gone. He was there. He is here, and he is watching over me.
His letter had meaning. It was well thought out. It was intentional, and he wanted me to know that I would always have him looking over me and looking out for me. It was then that I knew I desired to make this permanent. I wanted a permanent reminder that my dad is here, and he is not going anywhere.
He never stopped loving me. He never stopped protecting me. And he never stopped being my dad.
He was sick, and unfortunately, that sickness lead to death. But this cannot change the fact that I am his daughter. He is a part of me, and now more than ever, he is truly a part of me.
The portion of the letter that is tattooed on my left shoulder is done completely in his handwriting. This time, I changed nothing. I love it! I l am proud to have this on my shoulder, and I am proud to honor my dad.
When I get an “A” on a test, when I graduate college, as I continue to fall in love, when I get married, when I have children, when I experience monumental moments in my life, my dad will be there. I do not have to wonder. I can look over my shoulder, and I no longer have to guess. I can know. My dad is with me.
P.S. These pictures were taken directly after, so the tattoo was not fully healed.