Saturday, November 21, 2009

Getting Inked

Most aspects of my mother's body are completely virginal...say, for example her hair, which she has allowed to go naturally gray, and her skin, which I'm pretty sure has never seen any unnatural sun (UV rays on the beaches of South Carolina, however, are a completely different story). She has her ears pierced once and does not even bother to polish her toes (this lends itself to the theory that my mother is actually the milkman's child as she's the only woman in our family who does not own a stockpile of OPI nail polish). So, when she declared, over tortellini and breadsticks, that she, too, wanted to get inked in memory of Shep, I almost choked. Y'know that whole manner of joking where the person says something and then follows it up with "oh, I'm just kidding..."? Yeah, Mom doesn't do that. I knew she was serious. "I want a blue butterfly and "Shep" written underneath," she proclaimed. And then there was silence. A needle was going to repeatedly inject ink into my mother's virginal flesh, leaving behind a permanent reminder of this day. Permanent. Forever. Perhaps fading over time, but everlasting nonetheless. My first 3 thoughts were:

1. This will ruin her chances of ever being in the CIA since I've heard agents can't have distinguishable markings of any kind.
2. If she were to commit a crime in a sleeveless shirt, she would be captured for sure.
3. If she were to die in a beheading, at least I would be able to identify her body.
(for those of you who don't know my mother, please note that I can say with almost 100% certainty that none of these thoughts ever crossed my mother's mind. It is only in my twisted brain that these ideas materialize).

So, we agreed to set the date and go from there. It took us 2 months to find a Friday afternoon that would gel with both of our calendars. (We thought about going the Friday afternoon of The Brain Ball, but I knew I wanted my tattoo on my wrist. Having received 2 other tattoos, I also knew that when finished, they place this hospital-grade bandage on the tattoo, which must remain in place for a full 24 hours. Do you know what happens when you show up at a brain injury association benefit with a hospital-grade bandage on your wrist? I don't know either, but I'm sure it involves a very nice jacket with buckles and straps and a bumpy ride in a vehicle with flashing lights.) We decided on yesterday. Nothing doing this weekend that involved short sleeves or swimming.

On my way to Tattoo Charlie's (which I will totally support in print, although I'm not receiving any kickbacks for my love), Mom called.
Me, answering with "it's entirely too late to back out now."
"Well, I'm still in Frankfort."
"You're in Frankfort?? Mom, I'm 10 minutes away!"
"I just can't get my nerve up."
Hysterical giggling. "Just kidding, I'm here...should I go on in and start looking?" (And for those of you playing at home, that is the first time she's has ever done that whole "I'm just kidding" thing. What timing that woman has.)

Mom quickly found a blue butterfly that she liked. I had the drawing from the back of Shep's program which...shhh!!!...I found on Microsoft's Publisher program under "clip art > borders." As Charlotta said, "a pretty tattoo is a pretty doesn't matter where it came from." Amen, sister. So, here are the photos from The Inking of Mom and Daughter. I can honestly say that getting a tattoo on the inside of the wrist hurts like hell...but not as badly as labor, I now know.

She may, to the casual observer, look really, really happy. That is nervousness at its best. Been there, done that, know it like a brother.

This is the temp tattoo that goes on first to make sure everything is centered and the customer is happy with what is about to become irreversible. Crossing the point of no return, we like to call it.

Happy perspiration. The endorphins kick in, skin starts to being in a sweatlodge, but with less chance of death. Unfortunately, I was experiencing the same thing when she came to show me the finished product, so there is not a picture of the completed tattoo. But we'll get that today...after being bandaged for the full 24 hours (they only say that about 15 times on the post-care informational flyer).

Toes jammed together, hand gripping leg, red-faced...that is the look of a happy girl...or the look of a girl in extreme pain as the thin skin of the wrist is needled to numbness.

Mom said she wanted to take another picture...and this time, I should look less miserable.

It's red, it's bleeding, and it appears to have been done in black ink...but that's the finished product. When it heals, it should have a lovely blue appearance. And as always with my tattoos, it's larger than I envisioned...but if you want to have the detail, you have to make the sacrifice. If I ever go back into employment in the corporate world, I will have to start wearing those watches with the over-sized faces, all circa 1990 and whatnot. I may actually still have the one I wore in high school....somewhere...

I would like to say thank you to Charlotta and Mom's artist (whose name I did not catch, even though he wanted me to tag him on Facebook). You all rocked socks and we will definitely be back (and by we, I mean me and Neal...this is still considered "deviant behavior" for Mom-the-Psychologist so I wouldn't expect to see her back anytime soon). But thanks to Mom for walking me through labor, although I hadn't had a single childbirth class, and for putting needle to skin in memory of it all.


  1. Since I'm new to your blog, I did a little research and learned the history. And wow, I'm so, so sorry for all of your loss. But what a tremendously moving and beautiful thing for you and your mother to do to remember your sweet angel. I can't wait to see a photo of the finished product with the blue color shining through.

  2. Awesome! What a supportive mom! Y'all are too cute. It's a great, constant reminder of Shep. and a great tribute to his all too short life. Thanks for sharing your journey with us all. You're AMAZING really are!

  3. This is adorable. Your mom is a sweetheart and you are a trooper Ally. Can't wait to see the final products! I think your wit might be rubbing off on someone by the way... that's too funny!

  4. I'm glad to say I survived it all and it wasn't that bad although I am unlikely to do that again. My 10 minutes of discomfort do not hold a candle to the pain that Allyson and Neal have been through in losing our beloved Shep. But, lesson learned - I said I would NEVER get a tatoo! Never say never. My first lesson in what a grandmother will do for a grandchild. So, as long as I'm around, Shep will be memoralized in the form of a lovely, permanent blue butterfly.

  5. One word - OUCH!!!! I'm really not a fan of tats because of the pain factor.

    What a precious Mom you have!

    Blessings to you!
    Lana @ ilovemy5kids

    Yes, all my recipes are EASY and with little ingredients - you might even could find at Walgreens.

  6. It's really pretty! I got one on my upper back recently (mine is quite a bit larger) and it sure does hurt like heck! I'd like to get a cupcake tattoo sometime. We'll see. :D

  7. Your mom rocks!! I'd love to see your new tat in person...we should plan lunch soon :)

  8. You're mom is AWESOME! :) and what a beautiful reminder each of you now have of your sweet angel boy! miss seeing you!


That's it, let it all out....