TATTOO: a form of body modification made by injecting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment color to a specific color or shape. The Oxford English Dictionary states that it is from the Polynesian Tatau. There are five types of “tattoos:”
Traumatic or natural tattoos these result from an injury
Amateur and Professional tattoos done by traditional or modern machine
Identification or forcible tattooing as used by the Nazi’s during WWII
Cosmetic tattoos such as eye liner or known as permanent makeup
Medical tattoos needed to make proper machine placement for treatments
It seems like everywhere you look today just about everyone has a tattoo now. Even people who you never expected to see or hear that they have one usually has one hidden somewhere. It has become common and normal to see tattooed people even in the work place now as well.
Honestly growing up I never thought about tattoos. My Daddy, Jim, was in the Navy and had tattoos all over both his arms. He hated them and told me they were the result of drinking a lot and being a dumb kid in the Navy back in the 40’s and 50’s. Because of his tattoos he never wore short sleeved shirts and very rarely rolled his sleeves to reveal his tattoos to the world. But to me, that was my daddy. He had tattoos.
As we began our own family I told the girls if they ever got a tattoo that was the day they moved out. Period! No if, and’s or but’s about it. A lot of this was because of our association with a certain religious group that saw these as an abomination. Of course as the girls got older times changed and my view lightened up some, but still wanted the girls to make the tattoo decision after they were much, much older. I think almost all of us have a decision made in our youth we wish we could erase or do over.
When Heather died my thoughts about tattoos went out the window and I got my first tattoo in June that same year. I loved and still love this tattoo that is on my right shoulder and for the most part it is hidden away and no one can really see it. The same goes for my second tattoo, my tramp stamp, which I got on the one year anniversary of Heather’s death. This one can be a bit showier depending on how I bend over or how low the waistband of my pants or shorts might be. I then added Heather’s heart and signature to the butterfly one on my shoulder last year for what was supposed to be the 5 year cancer mark.
Of course we all have heard about the movie FROZEN and the song “Let It Go.” This has become somewhat of my signature phrase of Conceal, Don’t Feel, Don’t Let it Show for how I feel as a grieving mother. I have to conceal my feelings, don’t let my heartbreak show, and don’t allow myself to be sad. Of course this is the world’s view of how grieving mothers are supposed to act and feel. BUT—it then dawned on me that I was concealing my tattoos. Yes they were for Heather, but they were hidden unless I shared them. I had no visible way to show my life, loss or family.
As the 5th death anniversary got closer I decided I wanted to get a tattoo on my left forearm to “show” the world that I will no longer “conceal, don’t feel. I had a beautiful daisy growing from a wounded broken heart with the words Conceal, Don’t Feel written around it. Daisies are the flower for the 5th anniversary. I met with Brian, my tattoo artist, and everything was all worked out for me to get my tattoo on Monday, April 21st. Because of the bunny holiday being on Sunday the 20th everything was closed.
When I left and began to drive home I had no peace or excitement about my tattoo. I loved the design just didn’t feel it was what I wanted anymore. So, I changed my mind before that tattooing began. I came home and shared with my family my idea for what I really wanted. This would include every member of my family, including Sandy and Margie, and my love of Disney. I told my ideas to my son-in-love, Sunnie, and we worked it all out and I emailed Brain with the new idea.
SO, Monday, April 21st came and I went to get my tattoo. At first I was disappointed that Brain did not have the design drawn and waiting for my approval. The last two tattoos were very planned out and I was a bit thrown by this "let’s see how you want this" idea. First thing that was changed was the bigger Mickey and Minnie Mouses for Bill and me. I was not thrilled but when Brian found retro mouses I was hooked. This was Minnie with her daisy flower hat instead of the bow she has now. Of course the daisy flower fit perfectly with my design and the daisy had five petals which fit as well. Then we began to “build” my tattoo on my arm. I was a bit worried at first but once it was laid out and the “magic” was added, I was hooked and ready to go.
Everyone was telling me it was really going to hurt bad and be prepared for extreme pain. I was a bit nervous but as Brain began to outline I realized this was not bad at all. As fate would have it I was actually texting with a lady I had never met but she was reading my book Confessions of a Grieving Mother. After several months of feeling she was going crazy she felt I GOT IT…I understood how she was feeling. I felt mixed emotions as I felt sad that I have the knowledge, but then looking back I am glad I am not just beginning again. I was overjoyed to realize for the first time that my book was doing exactly what I wanted it to do—to reach out to grieving mothers and help them know they are not alone. I am not really sure I felt the tattooing that was going on as I was texting with my new friend.
Not that I need to explain my tattoo but it is very symbolic and I would like for you to understand what this means to me. The black star at the top of my wrist is for my Daddy and the baby that Jenn miscarried, Mickey is Bill, the purple daisy is for Jenn, and Retro Minnie is me. The smaller Minnie right below Mickey is Heather, the star behind retro Minnie is Wendy. Moving to the pink daisy this is Sandy, the next smaller Minnie is my Snookie (or Violet) the next smaller Minnie is for Baby Ellie to be born in August, the blue daisy is for Margie and the final star is for December 10th and all that represents to our family. Then Brain added the Disney MAGIC, the swirls and sparkles that tie this all together and gives it the flare I was wanting. Of course more grandchildren will be added as smaller Minnie’s or blackened in Mickey faces.
I am getting used to my newest work of art and I LOVE IT!! It is my perfect Conceal, Don’t Feel and the response has been very supportive and positive. For many of you that read my blog you may or may not understand or agree with me and that is fine, you don’t have too. I am going to be me and I am going to LET IT SHOW, LET IT GO and I am going to be the only me that I know how to be anymore.