On my right arm, I have five stars: two large ones representing my parents, and three smaller ones for each of my younger brothers.  When my father passed away in October, I wanted to do something special to his star to memorialize him.

When I returned back to China from my father's service in the US, I brought some of his ashes with me and scattered them in Shanghai.  But I kept a little bit with me, because I had a plan.  I had seen a tattoo program several months ago where a man had his wife's ashes mixed with the tattoo ink and then had her portrait tattooed over his heart.  I wanted to do something along those lines for my father.

The day after Christmas, I found a little tattoo parlor near my home and told them that I wanted some touch-up work done on some existing tattoos and I also wanted to add some light rays radiating out of my father's star.  Ok, no problem, they said.  One more thing, I said before we started the process, I want to add some of my father's ashes to the ink.

They were definitely not thrilled, saying it was unhealthy and unhygenic.  I countered by saying that it was a common practice in the West for people to get memorial tattoos this way :-P.  After several minutes of reassuring them, the proprietors finally agreed and let me sprinkle a tiny pinch of my father's ashes in the ink.  The light rays are very simple, just six ling extending out of a star, but I think it's really cool.  People look at me a little strange when I tell them, but for me, it's the most personal tattoo I have, and it was done for all the right reasons.


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