The Heart of Family



It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~Johann Schiller

The flash of a tattoo could be seen on the inside of his forearm when he turned his hand to dish up the noodles and rice.  He worked with calm efficiency as he greeted each customer with a smile.  He seemed to enjoy his job which consisted solely of serving hungry shoppers a quick lunch.  The tired mall patrons barely smiled back, and reserved conversation to needs that centered around their food purchase:

“Where are the straws?”

“You forgot my fortune cookie?”

“I need a fork.”

He answered each request and smiled in response.  He looked at me as my turn arrived and we exchanged the necessary information.  I watched him work, and tried to see the details of his tattoo.  The angle was wrong and I could only see that the tattoo was a scripted message carved on his inner wrist, which contains the life giving veins that transport blood from the heart to the entire body.  What an interesting and lovely place to choose for a permanent marking.  He places my full plate onto my empty tray.  I ask the question before he greets the next customer in line, “What does your tattoo say?”  He seems surprised by the question but quickly recovers and offers another sweet smile.  He turns his hand over and allows me to read the message myself…”It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.”

“It was my Dad’s Christmas present.”

I smiled, “How sweet.  He must have loved it.”

“It made him cry, so mission accomplished.”  I take my tray and head for an empty table with a smile still on my lips.  How simple the institution of family.  It is not a matter of flesh and blood, it can only be a matter of the heart.  Family is people we share our lineage with, and family is also people we choose to give our heart.