people like to ask why... and i can't completely answer why i tattoo my body... it's maybe something that i don't fully understand myself... but i can answer why i got this one... i can at least explain that...
It took some convincing to get my dad to sign on with hospice. We called it everything but “hospice.” Palliative care, home care nursing and the one that finally worked, our best option. I will never say that he was in denial, instead he was very hopeful and continued to have the will of a barracuda to live. The day that the hospice doctor, nurse and social worker came to meet with us, they talked soothingly and asked their questions tentatively. The social worker asked my dad if he had made plans or expressed his wishes. My mom and I both understood the question to be in reference to funeral plans and life insurances. My dad took it to mean something else completely. He answered, “my wife and I are going to renew our vows in February and we are thinking about buying an RV.” Needless to say the team caught on and avoided that subject from then on.
Then the doctor asked him if he was nervous or scared of what was happening. My dad gave the most telling of answers, one that continues to give us comfort in our loss of him. He asked, “Scared of what?" Long before I was a gleam in his eye my dad rode broncos and bulls in the rodeo circuit. My aunt told the doctor that he rode bulls to explain my dad's answer. The doctor understood that the man he was looking at had stared a two ton bull in the eyes and showed no fear... what was cancer after that?
In my dad’s last hours he stopped responding to us. He fought to breathe so hard and for so long his neck veins turned angry and purple. On January 1, 2010 at 3:30 am my dad cried two tears and went home to heaven. He fought cancer for less than a year and in his last breaths continued to fight. It was as if he were holding on for his eight seconds. Like he was up on the biggest, meanest bull and refused to let go until that buzzer went off. He got the highest score that early morning.
And while tattoos are not understood by everyone, this is why I got this particular one on the day after what would have been my dad's birthday. You can see that the bull has a RCC ribbon on his hind quarter, it represents cancer. And there is my dad riding the beast into the sunset. His story and his words give me strength to get past my fear of living without him. The sheer thought of it can get me through my day. This pain is still very fresh and I can’t see an end in sight. Someone told me that this is a pain that doesn’t ever go away, you simply have to learn to live with it. However, if I am truly my father’s daughter I can do anything. I can look that two ton, angry bull in the face and be his legacy