Wednesday, April 28, 2010

For luck

Confession: I have a tattoo. I've had a tattoo for three years. Over the course of those years, I have never regretted my choice to permanently mark my body. Here's why.

I have very rich, vivid memories of my paternal grandfather. He was meticulous, organized, creative and generous. He had a gift for woodworking: he refinished, built and remade countless pieces of furniture in his spare time. He made my siblings and I dollhouses, huge rocking horses, dolls, boats, toy guns, custom birthday cakes and toys. He was an excellent baker. He was a skilled fisherman. He made his own jewelry. He traveled the world. He worked for the United States Post Office for many, many years. He loved my grandmother, to whom he was married for 67 years, and treasured his family.

The one thing about my grandfather that has always fascinated me was his impressive skill in another area. You see, he had an amazing gift--knack even--for finding four leaf clovers. He would walk through the grass and locate them with ease. It was amazing. After locating them, he would dry and press them and tape them onto pieces of paper and give them to family and friends. "For luck," he would say with a wink.

I still have mine. It is one of my most treasured possessions. I keep it in my wallet, tucked in a small pocket behind my credit cards. Every so often, I take it out to remind myself how lucky I am as I rub it between my thumb and forefinger. It's a fantastic reminder of all that I have, the luck that exists in my life and the fortune I had in knowing my grandfather--the only one I've had the honor of knowing--for well over 20 years of my life.

Some years ago, my grandfather had major heart surgery that saved his life. He lived for over a decade afterwards. On December 30, 2006 at the age of 90, he passed away.

After his death, my father went through his things with my grandmother. He began sorting through papers and possessions and came upon a thick, unmarked envelope. I'll never forget my father telling me the chilling story. He said he picked it up in his hand and quickly realized, without looking inside, what it was.

The envelope was filled with his pressed four leaf clovers. The amazing part? The number of clovers inside: he had one four leaf clover for every year he lived after his open heart surgery. It made me laugh and cry to think of how lucky he was--how lucky we all were--for those years.

The story inspired me. I soon called my older brother and laid out my plan: I was going to get a tattoo of a four leaf clover and I would finally take him up on his offer. My brother has a few tattoos and, years earlier, had told me that he would accompany me if I ever decided to join the club. I was finally ready to sign my membership card.

So, on a rainy day in March, we got our four leaf clover tattoos. His was a cover up, mine was fresh ink. They were not matching, but the idea was the same. It hurt like hell, it really did. But it was, like most everything in life, worth the pain.

My ink is decently sized, roughly 1.5" tall/wide, and you probably won't see it unless we go to the beach together. It kinda looks like this. But, it's mine; and it means almost as much to me as the other clover safely tucked away in my wallet.

You know, "For luck."

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