the kinetic pen

wired by words

Words Have an Afterlife


I got up the nerve while drying my hands.

We were in the public restroom at the beach, this woman at the sink with the tattoo on her foot and me. She had two lines of cursive writing on the top of her right foot, and I wanted to know what it said. She was washing her hands when the automatic dryer stopped blowing.

“Excuse me, do you mind telling me what your foot says?”

The woman turned off the faucet and looked down. She smiled. “It’s from my dad,” she said. “I lost him five years ago.” She told me the ink was in his handwriting, that she’d lifted the words from a letter he’d once written her:

“I miss you a great deal. Love ya, Dad.”

I never got a tattoo. In college I toyed with the idea of getting ivy draped around an ankle, and I’m extraordinarily relieved I never got around to it because I later hated the idea. That’s why I haven’t come up with any other potential options; I figure the inspiration won’t last a lifetime.

But I have respect for people who want meaningful tattoos, and this one gave me goosebumps in a flash, on every limb. What a beautiful way for her to remember her dad, to read that he misses her and loves her – in his own script.

Have you come across words that took on more power or a new meaning after a loved one’s passing?

Author: thekineticpen

Freelance journalist working on a narrative nonfiction book about a woman who, after the freak death of her husband, decides to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to deal with her grief and finds a second chance at love.

2 thoughts on “Words Have an Afterlife

  1. I don’t have anything profound to add, but I love this, and I love the title. 🙂

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