* (This was written to go with the photo of my tattoo if it is chosen to be displayed on http://www.fyeahtattoos.com)
I’ve been missing my mom a lot lately, and I think that is what is causing me to want another tattoo. I got my first one about a month after she died. I did it in her memory and when I see it, it makes me happy.
I got the idea for this tattoo around Thanksgiving about three years ago. My mom was staying in Fresno with me for the holidays and trying to help my mother like Fresno a little more, (she practically had kittens when she found out I got into graduate school at Fresno State, and spent the months prior to me moving there trying to convince me of what a crime-ridden dump it was), I decided to take my mom to see Christmas Tree Lane.
Every year, the rich and old residents of Fresno decorate their houses on Van Ness Street with lights and giant ornaments. Some of these guys get really creative, and there’s been scenes with the Eiffel Tower or Charlie Brown’s Christmas. Knowing how much my mom loved Christmas time and elaborate light shows, I was sure this would cause her to warm up to Fresno.
To get to Christmas Tree Lane, I took my mom down Cedar Ave, which if you are going south, can be pretty ghetto. I made the mistake of driving south on Cedar, which really didn’t help my case of Fresno being a nice and safe place to live. My mom made note of how ghetto the area was several times while we were driving and to emphasize her point, she kept clicking the lock on my car to make sure it was locked. To add to this, mom instructed me to speed through the yellow lights, so that we could get out of the ghetto faster. I really started to regret my decision to drive down Cedar Ave when over to my left, I noticed this church sign:
It was perfect and oh so clever. It’s the word PEACE that turns into a shape of a dove. It would be perfect on my left shoulder. I had to have that on my body!
Mom smacks me hard on the arm. ” Hey! You’re not supposed to stop!”
I groan and rub my arm. “Mom, it was a red light.”
“Well, it’s red NOW.” She peers over my shoulder to see what caused me stop and smacks me again.
“OW! Mom, stop doing that!”
I look at her in shock. It’s crazy that our parents can know us so well, so well in fact without me saying anything she knew exactly what I was thinking.
“How did you…”
” You better not put that thing on your body. I don’t care how pretty you think it is. I don’t care that you’re 25 and living on your own. I better not catch you with that thing on your body while I’m still around. I mean it. You’re not too old to be bent over my knee.” I rubbed my arm and begrudgingly agreed not to get a tattoo. We made it to Christmas Tree Lane without getting shot (as she claimed would happen) and she really enjoyed it.
Despite her threats and my throbbing arm, I vowed to get the dove tattoo someday but promised not to do it while she was alive.
I had planned on keeping that promise a lot longer than I did.
My mom died a little less than two years after that. At the time of that colorful convo, my mom’s cancer was supposedly in remission and we had no idea that it was growing back and fast. She didn’t tell us that she was feeling pretty sick, was in pain and losing a lot of blood. She never complained and lived this way up until April 2010 when she could no longer walk. By this time, all I could do was watch one of the strongest people I’d ever known lose her fight to cancer. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through.
As hard as it’s been without her, my tattoo reminds me of a lot of good things about my last years with my mom. At the time I wasn’t thrilled that my mom was staying with me ; who wants their parent in their college dorm? When I look back on it now, I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with her. When I see my tattoo on my left shoulder it reminds me of those two months I got to spend with her before she got really sick (without my siblings), the trips we took together and her cooking an awesome meal for my friends in dorms on Christmas Day.
Eventually, I plan on adding to the dove tattoo. I’m torn between a large tree going up my back, the branches circling the dove, or a cross with a rose wrapped around it with her signature underneath. I may do both :). Although I kmow she wouldn’t approve and I know I’m getting smacked once I see her again (if they allow that in Heaven), my tattoo is something I’ve never regretted. And hey, I kept my promise :).