Grampy Fran’s Train-Track Tattoo

It’s possible to forget how alive we really are. We can become dry and tired, just existing, instead of really living. We need to remind ourselves of the juice of life, and make that a habit. Find those places inside that jump for joy, and do things (Unknown)

My Dad underwent an emergency double-bypass in December.

The next seven days were spent wondering if he was going to wake up. What was a living nightmare for my family was shared by him as well.

Unknown to us, or his doctors, was his reaction to morphine was not a pleasant one: violent dreams and hallucinations (he has since apologized to the nurse he kicked as she was trying to ‘kill’ him).

Eight weeks later, as I brought my Dad for a surgical follow-up session with his doctor, I observed his rapidly-healing scar: an arrow-straight ten-inch incision, dead-center on his chest. By that time, we’d begun referring to it as his ‘train track tattoo’.

Humbled and grateful for his second chance, my Dad reached out his hand, locked eyes, and in his most sincere voice, said: “Thank you, doc…you saved my life”. Then, he chuckled and continued: “I’m a carpenter and I gotta tell you: that is a perfect cut. What did you do, snap a chalk-line?”

The doctor laughed (he is truly one of the great ones), shook my Dad’s hand and replied ‘You’re welcome, Mr. Gamlin. You really made us work for our money on this one. I hope you remember, every day, how lucky you are”.

He is lucky. He got a warning. He got a chance to undo some damage. He got a chance to improve the way he cares for himself.

He’ll get to walk the beach in Aruba with my step-mom in two weeks.

We’ll get to toss horseshoes in the back yard this Spring.

My nieces will get to enjoy tractor rides with ‘Grampy Fran’ all Summer long.

He’ll be reminded, every morning in the mirror, of how blessed he is to be living and breathing, thanks to his surgeons, nurses, family, friends…and his train track tattoo.

What are your reminders?

Are you a survivor (of an extreme situation) who has retained a scar or two (physically or emotionally) which remind you of just how lucky you are?




  1. I’m so glad your dad is ok. I went through the same ordeal about 13 years ago. My dad had a triple bypass. Years later had prostate cancer w/ radiation treatment. Each time was a warning to do something different.

    So based on those warnings, I had to take my own preventative actions because my dad, like yours, is ‘our’ warning to what we will be like. Our parents are the best examples of how we will end up.

    That being said, my dad still works – he’s a doctor at age 70.

    My preventative actions were to: become a triathlete several years ago to keep my heart healthy. And just quit my 6 figure job 1 1/2 months ago in order to pursue other ways of income that didn’t cause stomach uclers – hence my blogging and my goal to earn money as an affiliate marketer on line.

    I don’t want to end up like my dad – heart attack, cancer, working till 70. I want to live to my potential and be the example to my kids and leave a legacy. Yes, inspired by the hard work by my dad, but in a different way.

    Well wishes to your dad and his train tracks.


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