Tomorrow will mark exactly 3 months to the date since Daddy called me bright + early on a Saturday morning telling me the biggest influence on my life had gone to be with the Lord. Today, Uncle Terry would have turned 70. All I have to say is the Big Man better be taking special care of him up there + making sure he gets his new pair of shoes today – I have all of the faith in the world that He is. Buying a new pair of shoes on his birthday was always his annual tradition. If you do not know me or my family, breaking traditions does not happen in our family.
Our first picture together in September ’93
Our final picture together in December ’16
Today, I followed through a huge decision. It may not seem like a big deal to any of you but it definitely is to me because I never thought I would have enough courage to ever do it… I got a tattoo. I know what you are probably thinking – “cool Shan… why do you feel the need to share about this?” Well, because I am very much like my parents + I was not much of a tattoo girl. Do not get me wrong, I do not judge anyone for having them… hell, I am right there with ya now haha… I 100% support anyone who has them because surely, there is meaning behind it. There is meaning behind everything. The night before I left for college, I created a bucket list for myself [+ only for myself to see] – #10 is “to get a small but meaningful tattoo (sorry Mom & Dad).” This item was on the shaky side because I was unsure if I would ever be able to find something meaningful enough to permanently ink on my body. But I did.
Erik at Great Lakes Tattoo did such an awesome job – I absolutely love it.
The Back Story
Uncle Ter was the one no one ever had to be concerned about – he was the healthiest member of the Brady family + took good care of not only himself, but all of us… his whole life. As I said in my Father’s Day post about my Daddy, Uncle Terry was the heart of this family + he constantly put everyone in front of him. He attended my sporting events, birthday parties, milestone events within my church + education – I chose him to be my Confirmation sponsor, + he was at my high school graduation… he was always there. We always spent Halloween + Christmas Eve with him + Aunt Sandy’s house. Thenceforward, August 11, 2015 arrived + it will forever be a dark day for me – the day he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My whole entire world flipped upside down. This was the biggest emotional break I ever experienced – I highly considered not going back to Penn State for my final year, I temporarily lost faith in my religion, + I desperately wanted to shut myself out from the rest of the world. I could not understand why something so terrible could happen to someone so selfless + healthy. What did this mean for the rest of us? When I saw him the day after his diagnosis, tears were shed but he told me not to worry, that he trusted in the Lord to help him + all of us through this, + that he was not going down without a fight. For the 21 months that followed, I watched him fight like hell to live each day to the fullest + make the best of everything going on. He held on much longer than any of us [including his doctors] knew was possible… then he went peacefully with his unfailing faith. It was his unfailing faith that restored my own faith.
Uncle Ter giving me quality advice on my High School Graduation Night – June 2012
Why the Doves?
Doves symbolize optimism with their spirituality. Beyond their sorrowful song is a message of life, hope, renewal, + peace. Following Uncle Terry’s funeral mass, we released a total of 12 doves from Mt. Washington + watched them circle around Pittsburgh before flying free. Jack + Aunt Sandy released the first one representing Uncle Terry. We proceeded to release the 11 remaining doves that represented each remaining family member in hopes of following in his footsteps one day. I chose to get one dove following the other with the lead dove representing Uncle Terry + the following dove representing me following his lead + continue to live a life filled with everlasting happiness + unconditional love with the ones who matter to me most, just as he did.
Aunt Sandy + Little Jack releasing the first dove representing Uncle Terry – May 2017
Releasing the other 11 doves – May 2017
Why on the Right Shoulder/Upper Back?
Uncle Terry was [+ always will be] my Godfather + my Confirmation sponsor. For those of you who do not know, the role of a Confirmation sponsor is to continue to help the candidate along the road of Christian life, to safeguard + develop the grace given at Baptism + now sealed with the Holy Spirit. When I received my Confirmation, he placed his right hand on my right shoulder. I purposely wanted the doves in the very spot he placed his hand as he guided me through the sacrament.
My Baptism – December ’93
My Confirmation – April ’09
I love + miss you more as each precious day passes by. You always had my back when you were here + now I know you will always have my back forever. Happy Birthday to you in heaven, Superman! xoxo