Last weekend, I spent about 4 hours at Lure Tattoo in Vienna, WV getting my fourth tattoo. Mat Ward, the tattoo artist, created another beautiful piece of art to honor my natural family – this time my natural mom’s family.
From the minute I reunited with my natural mom, the Payne family has been “all in” with me. There was no hesitation in accepting me as part of them, because to them I always have been part of them. The first communications with my natural mom quickly escalated to calls with Grandma Audrey, email exchanges with Aunt Arlene, Aunt Teresa, and Uncle Kenny, and additional Facebook friends in the form of my brothers (Damon and Jared) and sister-in-law (Anyse). When I met many of the Payne family members during the spring and summer of 2012, it was like I had come home after being on an extended trip and just needed to get acquainted with everyone again. I have no idea why God made our genetic connections so powerful, but it has been a blessing to me in reuniting with the Payne family.
The tattoo is a very special design based on some key moments in the reunion process with my natural mom.
- There are two dates – March 20, 1975 and February 19, 2012 – which are our separation and reunion dates. March 20 is my birthday and February 19 is the day we first spoke.
- The tattoo also features a river that separates over a hill into two branches and eventually comes back together over another horizon. Having come from the same source, we were separated, but are now united again. The river is particularly important because very early on in our reunion, my natural mom sent me a photo of rivers merging with a promise that she would not allow anything to separate us again.
- The river also has significance because one of my favorite songs is “Aqueous Transmission” by Incubus, which includes the lyrics, “I’m building an antenna, transmissions will be sent. When I am through maybe we can meet again, further down the river. And share what we both discovered, then revel in the view.”
- The landscape scene is “framed” in a heart-shaped bouquet of flowers with the family name “Payne” at the top, representing the love that my natural mom and the rest of the Payne family had for me regardless of the fact I was separated from them.
The tattoo is on my upper right leg. I tried to be modest in having the photo taken, but please forgive me if you are seeing more of my upper leg than you desired to see.