Everything below I wrote first, and now I am just writing this intro. The paragraphs below flow chronologically, as I am trying to talk about my tattoo story, but it does get kind of long-winded. There isn’t really a nicer or “neater way” to put this story into written form. So, I am just giving a heads up that this is a bit all over the place, but in the end, I hope you get what I am trying to convey.
My dad had a tattoo. On his left bicep. What was it? Well, it was supposed to be a snake and an eagle. But it ended up looking like an eel and a weird polygon. He got this tattoo while he was enlisted in the Marines. My mom thinks he had to be 19 or 20 when he got it, as he was born in 1952, graduated in 1971, and then was off to boot camp. He was stationed on a boat in the Philippines for some time, and it was at a sketchy island tattoo shop that he got this done. In theory, I think he was going to go back and have it finished. But, even though my dad looked like someone who could handle any level of pain, he really had a pain tolerance of zero!
My dad obviously had this tattoo on his arm for all to see my whole life. He never hid it or said he regretted it. I grew up seeing it was acceptable to have a tattoo, albeit an unfinished one. I honestly don’t remember when I first started thinking about getting a tattoo, but I knew I wanted one. I got my first tattoo about a month after my 18th birthday. I was dead set on getting a Snoopy on my lower back—but, my mom had an opinion about that. Her worry was not that I would be old and wrinkly and not want a tattoo there, but that I would someday be old and wrinkly and regret having a Snoopy. Her wise suggestion?—a butterfly. OK MOM, HOW CLICHE DO YOU WANT THIS TO BE?!? Anyway, my dad was fine with me getting a Snoopy, because it was my body and that was something I have always loved, so I made an appointment and all was said and done.
Yes, there’s the warning people with tattoos give out that you “won’t end up with just 1. They are addicting!” In my first year at college, I got two more pieces inked for life—-Another Snoopy, on my right lower hip, and a set of flowers on top of my foot. I will touch back on those flowers later, as that is the one tattoo I had gotten that really didn’t have a meaning:
When my dad passed away in April 2004, shortly after the flower tattoo, I began to think about a way to ink his memory. This was done in the fall of 2004, during my sophomore year at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. I found a document at my mom’s house with his signature, so it could be replicated on the lower right side of my back. Angel wings were added, along with a Canadian maple leaf, since he was from Canada (Ironic how now I live in Canada, eh?)
I started to step it up a notch in Spring 2007. This was my senior year at UWL, and I wanted to do something more with honoring my dad. Even though it had been three years since his passing, I was still not really dealing with his death that well. I was angry, confused, mad…it was unfair. I still didn’t deal with it properly and talk about it, but I booked an appointment and had three stars inked on my right rib cage—-1 for me, 1 for my mom, and 1 for my dad.
This held as my sixth tattoo for five years. I had said I was done. But a lot changes in five years. For instance, I had moved to Alberta. It is funny how things work that I meet a guy, my husband, on vacation while in the Bahamas, and he lives in Canada. So then I move to Canada, and the move was easier than it should have been, since I could get Canadian Citizenship, since my dad was born in Quebec. So thank you Dad for being born in Canada! Also, I finally started to confront the fact my dad was gone, and while it wasn’t fair, I had to deal with it appropriately. I started talking—not yelling or crying, but talking with people who are well-versed in this area.
In August 2012, I got the largest piece put onto my body—a fleur de lis with the inscription “je me souviens.” I have clung to this quote once finding out it is the motto for the province of Quebec. It translates to “I Remember.” The motto has helped inspire me to do this site, among other things. This piece was so large that we linked it with the stars already in place and the signature. In a way, it mad three individual pieces work together as one.
In December 2012, I had the simple words “Blackbird Fly” placed on my left wrist, as a reminder to shed away all the negativity and unhappiness. I had had my friend Melissa sing the song “Blackbird” at our wedding as I walked down the aisle in December 2010. I was flying away from the wings of my mom and dad, to my new life as a “mrs.” The song can take on all sorts of personal meanings, depending on your interpretation, but I saw it as a symbol of living the next chapter of my life proudly, full of love, full of appreciation for the past, and full of happiness.
Now lets go back to that flower tattoo on my foot. All my other tattoos have deep meaning—-sure, Snoopy images may not seem deep, but it is of personal value and importance. I had images on my body either related to Snoopy and the gang, or for the memory and love of my dad and my family. But I had nothing to do with running, a passion I took to the next level of road racing back in Spring 2004, shortly after my dad passed away and ironically shortly after this flower tattoo.
I decided I wanted this tattoo to be “enhanced.” It had faded over 9 years and need to be brought back to life. I also wanted more vines to be added and some shading to make it look more embedded onto my foot, rather than a stamp. But most importantly, I wanted a simple 13.1 and 26.2 hidden somehow within the vines, to signify the race distances in miles of a half and full marathon.
I planned this tattoo around a Septoplasty surgery I was going to have done. On June 17th, I went in for a day surgery to have a deviated septum taken care of, and I will now hopefully breathe easier out of my right nostril when I run and do day to day activities. (I have had a scab on that side for 7 damn years….it bleeds and forms again and makes breathing a pain. This was a possible solution that will hopefully work!). This surgery was set after my last half marathon of Spring, and since I can’t run for about 5 weeks from the surgery, I thought having my foot touched up during the time would be smart, as flip flops are a must as it heals. So, in celebration of my running (and the two month break I will be having from running!) I went to Peppermint Hippo Tattoo in Lethbridge, Alberta, on June 21st.
Carla was my tattoo artist, and she drew right on my foot her ideas. She decided to hide the numerals in the vines! She would re outline the whole old tattoo, along with the new additions, and then starting shading and coloring. The finished product is more than I could have hoped for! You can see from a onlookers view how my foot looks now—-the 13.1 is hidden near the bottom by my toes, while the 26.2 is a little trickier to see near my ankle (tilt your head sideways and turn it a bit and you’ll see it weaving.)
So that is my tattoo story. Yes, it doesn’t really flow linearly, and it kind of goes all over the place. And I know there are people out there who do not understand why people get tattoos. But they are all important to me, and I am proud of every single one. And I realize I will become old and wrinkly at some point, yes, but at least I will have some beautiful art to look at on my body! If you are considering getting a tattoo for the first time, make sure it is something you have always loved or has a special meaning to you. and don’t worry about what others think—you aren’t forcing them to get it on their own body!