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  • Cathy B. Parker

China Cabinet and Tattoos

Updated: Oct 28, 2019








I found myself crying my eyes out when I was faced with the fact that there was no room for my china cabinet in the small home we were preparing to move into. I never considered myself much of a possession-loving person, but I could not believe how emotionally I was behaving. I started to wonder if my fatigue was getting the best of me. This current move would be number six since purchasing the cabinet. With each new home there seemed to be a perfect place for it, but I carefully measured several times, and there was no way it could go with us. Even though I was alone, I was so ashamed at how heart-broken I was over saying good-bye to such a useless item. As I wiped the thick dust from the shelves and removed the items from the drawers that I had forgotten I even had, I realized more and more how ridiculous my tears were. Then I started to analyze why I was so attached to this piece of furniture. I remembered buying the china cabinet. My friends were impressed at my negotiating skills as I walked away with paying only half of the already discounted price. We were living in Jacksonville, Florida in a home that was always full of our four children and their friends. The memories of Jacksonville, my friends and my children being teenagers…those were my thoughts as I wiped away the dust and my tears.


My cabinet reflection took me back to a recent conversation that I had with my son, Kendal. He was a student-athlete at SUNY Maritime College pursuing a degree in marine transportation. Kendal shared the smallest dorm room I have ever seen with two other roommates. When not in class he was continuing his studies as a cadet on training ships. As I spoke with him over the phone the day of his 24th birthday, I let him know how perplexed I was as to what to get him for his birthday. He said, “Mom, I know what I want, but you are not going to like it.” Preparing myself to prove him wrong and agree with whatever he said, I asked him what he wanted. “I want another tattoo.” Please notice that he said “another”. Kendal got his first tattoo on the day he turned 18. It was a basic tattoo, his initials, on each arm. His tattoos became more elaborate when he gifted himself a huge Bible verse and cross on his right arm. I have to admit that I was glad it was a Bible verse and cross, but his arm got infected and he had to be put on antibiotics. After missing football practice and the fear of losing his arm to the infection, I thought he would never want another tattoo, but I was wrong. Determined to try to understand his rationale for wanting another tattoo, I calmly asked him why he liked them. He responded, “I remember where I was and what was going on in my life when I got them. I remember the people who were with me when I got my first tattoo and I remember that Dad wanted to kill me. You know, Mom, I am a sailor and sailors love tattoos. Besides, I don’t have room for anything else.”


Just like Kendal’s tattoos, my china cabinet, although useless to others, had a purpose. It brought back memories of great joy. The agony of saying goodbye to the cabinet helped me understand even more why my son loves his tattoos so much. They are his only possession that he purchased and can keep.

My china cabinet will continue to bring memories to someone in its new home. I am going to donate it to Restored Treasure Thrift Store where the proceeds are used to bring men and women out of lives of drug addiction. As for me, I am going to choose to focus on the creation of new memories and I will continue to look at my son and his tattoos with much more understanding.


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