Getting a Tattoo with my mum, in honour of her.
I was eleven when my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was given a 40% chance of survival, and told there was very little chance she would survive 5 years even if she survived the cancer. This had a massive impact on my childhood and life; my dad had left when I was five and my mum had never remarried. This inevitably meant I ended up caring for her and my younger sister while she was ill, and forged an incredibly strong sense of responsibility for both of them in me that is still there today.
She survived the cancer. She said she would get a tattoo to celebrate when she reached the 5 year mark of still being alive. That mark came and went, and last year she realised she was reaching the 10 year mark and started to discuss tattoo ideas with me.
By this point I had two tattoos and had started to plan my third, so she wanted my input in what shop and artist to go to, what design to get it, where to get it, etc as she knew I had done lots of research before getting mine.
I had wanted a tattoo in honour of her for years, but hadn't worked out a design or when to get it as I wanted it to be important and for her to be present. But when she started thinking about a tattoo for herself, my idea took form and I asked her if she would mind me getting one at the same time as her. I had decided on a design; a sprig of white heather with a light pink ribbon in a bow around it. The ribbon for the cancer, but not too obviously (I'd also loved the idea of having bows on the back of my ankles) and the white heather because her first name is Fiona which means white, and heather because that was her middle name; also, white heather symbolises protection, and I've both protected her and she me. When she heard my idea she fell in love with it and asked if she could use it; she had considered a ribbon, but hadn't thought of the heather. To her, it's symbolic of her parents as they gave her her name, and she decided to get mine and my sister's initials incorporated into it, and used the breast cancer ribbon in its typical shape.
Her 10 year point came and went, and eventually I managed to get her to the tattoo shop I had had my most recent tattoo from. I felt incredibly comfortable in the studio and with the people who worked there, and felt that Tim, the tattooist, was talented and friendly enough for her to be happy. She adored his design, booked an appointment, then got the tattoo on her arm in the week after Christmas.
Tim drew up a different design for me, so our pieces are complementary rather than the same, which I think was amazing and really impressed me. I had mine done a few days after my mum, and had never envisioned myself with colour tattoos until then. I had always thought I would stick with black and grey, I wasn't much a fan of colour - but now I love colour, and can't work out why I was so averse to it before.
My mum came with me to the studio, and was surprised when I didn't have my ankle numbed, especially as the back of the ankle is meant to be rather painful and she had only coped with hers because of the numbing agent applied to her skin before hand. But once I was laying down, all I felt was relaxed. I love the feeling of the needles going into my skin; it's so rhythmic and relaxing, and the noise of the machine was so soothing. My mum stood near my head and watched, having to turn away every so often so that she didn't feel ill. She didn't know how I was coping, but I would have fallen asleep if I hadn't been propped up on my elbows!
Tim did such a wonderful job, both my and her tattoos are perfect, and more than either of us could ever have hoped for. I'm going to get a similar design on my left ankle when I have the money in honour of my Gran (my mum's mum) as she's been such an integral part of my life and looked after me so much when I was young.
Every time my mum catches sight of my tattoo for her she smiles and comments on how honoured she is that I got it for her. I'm really pleased that I've managed to make her so happy with something that means so much to me; I'm so glad I got a tribute piece to her while she's still alive, rather than wait to get a piece in her memory when she dies.
submitted by: Lizzy
on: 17 Feb. 2011
in Flower and Plant Tattoos
Artist: Tim Childs
Studio: Tebori Custom Tattoo
Location: Waterlooville, UK