The voice of the Scotch-Irish, Gaelic, has always held a fascination for me. In fact, words and languages, quotes and pithy memes, even dialects, have always intrigued me. For my Bachelor’s Degree in Ethnic Studies, I wrote a final project paper on the origins of Ebonics. I came to observe that African-Americans did not talk “ghetto slang”, because amazingly , white southerners spoke the same way. No, Ebonics is actually a documented dialect of the English language, combining numerous aspects of West African language norms into the English discourse, hence rubbing off on white southerners as well. For example, in reflecting their culturally specific holistic world view, most African languages don’t discriminate between tenses, whereas Western worldviews are linear in nature, denoting categories of time, so tenses ARE observed. For example, where as an English speaker will differentiate between whether they “already went”, or “are going”, or “will be going”, African languages simply say, ” I be going”, which could mean “they went”, “they are going”, or “they will be going,” because it doesn’t really matter WHEN one goes, as long as you go. origins of Black English
Anyway… about a month after I had left my ex-husband, my parents helped me hire an attorney. When I first met with him, he looked at me and told me that he was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to withstand the relentless and cutthroat environment of a courtroom. He was worried that I would cave in, give up on my fight for myself and my children, and go back to my husband. And, weighing in at under 100 pounds, with my hair falling out, and sitting meekly in his office chair, I’m sure that I didn’t seem like a good candidate for him to represent. But…. I sat there and told him that I had tried everything I had known how to do to save my marriage; years of different kinds of secular counseling, pastoral/church counseling, fasting, praying, couples retreats, couples workshops, mentor couples…. and that when I had finally decided to leave him, there would be no turning back.
That conversation was the start of a decades long court journey. What would end up being 400 court filings, 45 court appearances, 6 different judges, 7 different family mediators, a Alameda County DA investigation, a Fremont PD SVU investigation, and a several thousand dollar custody evaluation, all started in that little office where my attorney told me that I reminded him of a lost puppy dog.
About a year into this court journey, I read the words “solas”, “mol”, and “tearmann” somewhere, and I fell in love with them. Solas means “to be a light”; Mol means “to be an advocate”; and tearmann means “to be a refuge”. Without even knowing the strength and voice that I would have acquired by year ten, at the one year mark, I was proud of the person I had become even in that time, in terms of learning how to fight to protect and advocate for my children.
I also knew that I wanted to get a tattoo near the place where my family had gone to family camp for years, Mt. Hermon. So I found a little place in Felton, California, that would even let my kids come watch me get the tattoo too. The symbolism of my children being able to come with me, while we, and my parents, were at family camp, was not lost on me, and the meaning of the tattoo. In the early days, when I was not strong enough to go to court on my own, my mom would always go with me. And, before I finally started representing myself as in pro per in our court appearances, my parents pretty much gave up their entire retirement savings to pay for my attorney, so that my children and I got the best possible protection and advocacy we could get, something that will never be lost to me. So while I was busy advocating, being a light for, and providing a refuge for my children, my parents and attorney were doing that for me.
Late summer of 2005, tattoo number 3 was born.