On this day of celebrating Love, I find myself reflecting and appreciating two of the biggest loves in my life ~ my adoring husband and my eldest daughter. Being reminded of how truly precious the love that we share with one another is, never to be taken for granted. Knowing that if we are simply open to the possibility, it may not always come in the package or in the way that we expect, but it will come.
I had just celebrated my 29th birthday and had a little cash so I decided to get a new tattoo. Having recently walked away from an abusive marriage with my two young children, I was in the process of reinventing myself. I went to the shop that was close to where I lived and where I had my naval pierced six months earlier. I decided upon a small zodiac symbol and was told that Fritz would do my tattoo. I thought to myself, that’s good, since he’s the artist I wanted, having pierced me before.
We had a wonderful conversation during my tattoo, which took much longer than I expected. He assumed I was a Cancer, since that was the symbol he was tattooing on my lower back; I corrected him and told him I was an Aquarius. However, I was born in ’69 and it was one of my favorite numbers. This definitely got his attention.
There was a strong mutual attraction, but we both had our reservations. I was a single mom, going through a divorce and he was a tattoo artist. A tattoo artist!!! I had a lot of stereotypes surrounding my opinion of tattoo artists and at the time I was still concerned about what other people thought of me.
I didn’t seem to be taking into account the powerful experience I had the day that he pierced my naval. When he looked up at me to see if I was ready, I immediately felt “something” when I connected to his deep, blue eyes. After we left, I asked my friend if she thought he was cute. She said yes, but was surprised that I would find him attractive since he was bald and not my typical type. I couldn’t explain it, just something I felt. The very next day, my daughter, Brandilyn, and I were stopped at an intersection when I looked over to the right and saw Fritz on his motorcycle. I pointed him out and asked if she thought he was cute, being nine years old, she simply thought I was crazy.
It would take seven months, from being tattooed before we officially started dating. During that cautionary time, I got more tattoos, which are excellent pain therapy by the way. When you are suffering emotionally and mentally, the physical pain is unnoticeable, like it is somehow absorbed. On separate occasions, I brought my daughter and my out-of-town brother in to “meet” him. One night, after being tattooed, I was invited to attend a late night shop dinner with everyone. Afterward, he took me back to my car and our conversation continued for a while in the parking lot, before inviting him to my place. We talked until three in the morning, when he decided it was time to go home. He was a complete gentleman, which was refreshing, and somewhat disappointing, to me.
A few weeks later, my kids and me were moving to a new condo and my phone number was changing. I took this opportunity to inform Fritz of my new number, in case he wanted to reach me. We started dating two weeks later. Both of us had our reasons for being shy of a committed, long-term relationship. He was going to be my conquest, a fun story I would tell my grandchildren someday, about the crazy time Grandma dated a tattoo artist! Neither one of us expected to find “The One” in the other, but to our surprise, that is exactly what happened. We were married a year later.
We became engaged the day after the Columbine High School tragedy. The television coverage was quite extensive and one morning, while getting ready for work, Brandilyn noted the pictures of Harris and Klebold on TV and how average and normal they looked, similar to her abusive stepfather. That people will stare at Fritz and be concerned; yet he is so caring and gentle. That was how she learned that you could never judge a book by its cover.
Fritz became the father that Brandilyn never had, loving and accepting her as his own. Adopting her shortly after we were married for one year (the required time by law), she was 12 at the time. He helped her heal from her challenging childhood, not receiving the fatherly love she deserved. He encouraged her artistic talent, being an artist himself; today they work side-by-side tattooing at Alternative Arts Tattoo. They both have a great sense of humor that compliments one another, allowing them to engage in playful banter. Clients are not surprised when they discover they are father and daughter, but they may be surprised to learn they are not biologically so. I know now that he has always been her father; it just took them 10 years to meet!