It was a year ago this month that my son was involved in the boating accident at work. The man that was running the boat carries a great load of guilt over my son’s injury and the anniversary of the accident was coming down on him really hard so my son gathered all the men that had been in the boat that day and took them out to eat after work. They ate heaps of fish, drank a few beers and worked to help the man laden with guilt see that his last minute actions probably saved my son’s life. Then, because they are all single men, and because single men with a few beers in them really, really want single women, preferably with a few beers in them too, they appointed my son to go on a gathering mission.
For some unexplained reason, I’m his mother I’m not expected to understand, the women flock when he is around. He has an aura, a smell, a look, a something or other, that turns otherwise sensible women into eager lemmings. So he went around the restaurant/bar and charmed the women into joining his group of workmates. He came home with some funny tales of what happened that night, but he also came home with a sense of calm about a day a year ago that completely changed his life.
Then this past weekend he just disappeared for four hours. That’s totally unlike him. He has two teenagers, and although he is a relaxed father he generally keeps his finger on where the kids are and what they are doing. He had all of us in a confused mode. “Where’s dad?” “Where’s dad?” I must have heard that question a dozen times. I ventured that he might be visiting one of the many female friends that he has throughout the city. That did get a “well he’s entitled" with a "but he could have told us”, but it didn’t seem to appease the overall sense of missing him. Since his near miss with death last year he has been totally wrapped up in the family. He rarely does anything that doesn’t involve the family or at least one of its members. We were all perplexed.
When he did come home he sauntered into the house with a serene smile on his face. “Where were you? What were you doing? How come you didn’t tell us you were going to be gone so long? What did you do?” He was bombarded with questions and all he did was smile.
Then he took his shirt off and I got a glimpse of his arm. He had gotten a tattoo! This man that hates tattoos had gotten one on his left arm. Granted it’s a beautiful piece of work, but he has always HATED tattoos.
Then he told us why he had done it. That first month that he was recuperating from the accident he was searching for the meaning of the new feelings that were swirling around in his mind. He went to the bookstore hoping that he might come across a book that would help him on his search for the right words or set him on a path to fulfill this new ache inside him. He said that he saw two books that someone had left on the floor and he glanced down and read the titles. The books were about Buddhism. “I told myself that if the books were still on the floor when I went to leave I would bend over and pick them up.”
Bending over was a very painful thing for him to do at that time, but after spending over an hour at the bookstore and not finding anything that gave him comfort, he went back to where he had seen the books. And there they were, still lying where someone had discarded them. It had taken everything that he had in him, but he bent over, picked the books up and paid for them.
He brought the books home and at night when the pain wouldn’t let him sleep he read passages from those two books. And much to his surprise he found words that brought him peace, words that formed his feelings into solid thought. He found beauty.
He stresses that he has not become a Buddhist. He grew up in a non-denominational church. He studied Catholicism with one of his lady friends. He has a history of being willing to listen and evaluate; open to what he hears. But he has not declared himself to ‘be’ of any one specific religious belief.
Something in the spirituality of the book on Buddhism touched him enough that he has investigated the philosophy further. When he was telling us this story there was a calm that seemed to emanate from the center of him.
He says that he thinks there is great beauty in the written symbols of Buddhism. And because he feels that the love and goodness he first read about in those books has explained the emotion of this change that has taken hold of his life he wanted to carry the beauty with him at all times.
The changes in him are silent and deep. Some of his exuberance for life has been tempered, but the sense of humor has expanded. He seems to find more joy in the simple things life has to offer now, he thinks more then he speaks, more beauty emanates from his spirit. I love the changes!
But hey, I’m a mother and a tattoo is a huge change!
His 14-year-old daughter has been begging him to let her get a tattoo. She wants one low on her back. You know the kind? One that suggests greater things to come when a young woman walks away and her jeans pull just a wee bit. I’m pretty certain that it’s not the 'beauty of enlightenment' she is yearning for.
But her changed dad knows that. I heard him tell her when she was 17 they could have the same conversation and that if she still felt strongly about it he would give her permission.
Of course, in the meantime, he told her it hurt like hell. Hey, she cried for a week when she got her ears pierced.