tattoo I'm headed to Georgia first thing in the morning to see my brother Paul graduate from boot camp. It's the first of three consecutive trips I'm taking and my nerves are frayed. I have articles to send off, money to deposit and a checklist to accomplish before I can go to sleep. And, what am I doing? Designing a tattoo for my 17-year-old nephew. He's getting his first and I understand his excitement and desire to get it just right. When you are an artist in a family you get requests like this a lot. My other brother, Mark, is a graphic designer as is his wife, Gretchin, and they too get these frequent requests from all of us. Christian asked me earlier in the week if I could help him and I started sketching above (don't worry, it's evolved a lot from there, but can't post the result until he gets it). He knew I had to leave and he had enlisted my brother Mark's help as well, but as his deadline approached -- he's scheduled to get his tattoo on Friday -- I could see he was ready to change his mind. Not because he didn't want the tattoo, but because we didn't have his design ready. My brother Mark and I both worried about rushing a job that would have such permanence. I even suggested Christian wait until his Dad got home (Paul is an excellent artist able to design out of thin air.) And, then I realized, there was more going on here. Christian's mom, Chesne, is scheduled to go with him to get the tattoo on Friday. She is getting one as well. This is a mother-son thing, but Christian also wants a scripture on his forearm just like his Dad. He wants it before his Dad gets home. This is a rite of passage involving both his parents, involving all his family. Mark and I helped design one of Paul's tattoos and now his son wants us to help him design his. He wants to show his Dad when he gets home; a mirror of the man. Family -- uncles, aunts, and especially parents -- all leave their mark on the next generation, sometimes unwittingly. Here, we have a chance to knowingly participate, to shape with image and with love, this boy soon to be man. And, so amidst my packing and my deadlines and all my frenetic chaos, I stop and I draw and I prepare to leave a loving mark.