I stepped into the Bookshop…

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The Man in the Maze

Where do I go from here?

The Tohono O’odham people cherish the symbol of I’ITOI, the Man in the Maze.  I have seen this symbolic artwork many times on trips to southern Arizona.  It is of a man standing at the top of a circular tribal looking maze.  However, it wasn’t until my daughter Heather sent me a postcard from there did I possess one nor know the meaning (thanks to the brief explanation on the card).  Basically the symbol depicts a life; starting at the top following the path, acquiring knowledge, strength and understanding, nearer the middle one reflects back on wisdom gained as they move closer to the end in the center.  Initially she and in turn me were attracted to this one because the symbol is black on a white card, (I have long favored the illusion and absence of color).

I saved it and a couple of years later, while writing my story of Life with Sarrah more of the meaning found me.  Keeping it in the binder, I look at it often.

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Treasure

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As I watched them meet for the first time it was obvious that Heather adored Sarrah.  Their initial meeting was when Heather returned to our home after a surprise eighteenth birthday party dinner for her (my first ‘in person’ celebration of her birthday, in sixteen years).  She had only seen pictures of Sarrah, so the occasion was a little anticipated.  Heather had not been to my house since she was a little girl, so Sarrah helped ease any tension from the occasion.  After all, a cute Dalmatian could not hurt my appeal to a teenaged young lady.

Heather was drawn to Sarrah.  She drew two fabulous pieces of artwork in pen and ink, from photographs taken by others; one of Sarrah and me walking on the beach as the sun was setting (taken by Nissa) and the other of Sarrah peaking from behind a bush, magically enhancing these moments… capturing them in their time.  These drawings were gifts to me, from my daughter, of gifts to me, from Sarrah.

Participating in another of Heather’s artistic passions, she also photographed Sarrah, often.  I don’t think you can have too many pictures, especially those taken by people close to the memory.

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I had heard of memorial tattoos in the past, typically those emblazoned with names and dates.  More recently with the evolution of the art form, portrait types have become popular.  I had even heard something about a more extreme commitment, using a little cremation ashes in the ink.

I have collected a few tattoos over the years, prior to their current popularity.  They are mostly personalized designs; with no special meaning attached other than being decades’ old souvenirs of simpler times.  So the idea and realities of inked skin was not new to me.  I pondered the idea, with my twist.  The thought of replicating some of Sarrah’s favored spots around what I already had, seemed appealing to me.

I went to a tattoo convention January Twenty Second, Two Thousand Eleven, in Marysville.  This in itself was an interesting and distracting new experience that I found to be mostly tailored to the kind of artwork that I already had.  Out of all of the colorful artists I found a few potentials and let my mind work further.  If I decided to have this done, I wanted the right vibe to be part of the experience, in some kind of appropriate atmosphere, where the intent of meaning could be felt.  I did some internet surfing of these possibilities, viewed more of their artworks and refined my search.

I visited the Hidden Hand tattoo parlor in the unique neighborhood of Fremont, tucked under a building; interestingly just down the street from where Sarrah had gone for acupuncture and ultimately her last trip.  I met with the artist Roni, who combined with the atmosphere and locale, seemed right.  I gave her artistic freedom with photos of Sarrah and tracings of my foot.  My initial reaction to her emailed design was, “Wow, that’s bigger than I had envisioned” but I kept it to myself to live with the idea.  And like Sarrah, the artwork quickly grew on me.  I decided that a design to honor my best friend, deserved Big.

The unedited work of art with some of Sarrah’s ashes in the black ink was done June Seventeenth, Two Thousand Eleven; on what would have been her 13th birthday.  Now, she can walk with me… for the rest of my journey.

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I am not promoting tattoo’s in any way (I actually liked them more before the herds gravitated), but to my un-expecting open mindset, I did feel some relief in the pain of it.  The artwork healed nicely and serves me with a little visual solace, which most likely only I understand, making it better.

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