Tattoos Past and Future

As promised in my last post, I wanted to take some time to talk about my tattoos and what I’d like to get next.

I got my first tattoo a couple years ago with my sister, Tracy. We had both been talking for a while about getting something in honour of our heritage and our family. We thought long and hard about it, and waffled on a couple of ideas. First, I was thinking about doing a bunch of different plants/flowers, each to honour a different part of my heritage (wheat for Ukraine, clover for Ireland and thistle for Scotland). I still like the idea, but it’s hard to find a good botanical artist in our area. Next we considered doing our family crest, but both of us felt it was too expected. So, we decided to narrow our focus to our family clan motto

Sans Peur - Without Fear

So, we thought about it and we both decided that having a french tattoo might send the wrong message (we lived in a very french-dominant community on the outskirts of Ottawa) and we hate the association with the brand “No Fear”, so we opted for something different. Gaelic. I contacted my CiL (cousin-in-law), Anne. She has studied gaelic in University and confirmed to me that the translation of Without Fear to scottish gaelic was Gan Eagla. So, we contacted a guy I was interested in at a shop that came highly recommended, Nelson of the famed New Moon Tattoo. I showed him some fonts that we liked, and this is what came of it:

Me, waiting nervously for my first tattoo

Nelson gets to work, while I distract myself with music

I'm done!

Tracy's turn

Tracy's done!

Sisters <3

It was a great bonding experience for the two of us. The tattoo is definitely something for me to reflect on when I’m feeling unsure about what to do next, or how to handle a tough situation. It’s funny, because I sometimes forget that it’s there. It’s also kind of amusing that the font ended up being very…Harry Potter. Heh :D Totally not intended. We were going for sort of rough quill-written. My favourite part of it, in fact, is the lovely drops of ink he added around the words. Another funny thing? People often ask me why I have Gay Eagle written on my back.

So, moving on to my next tattoo: In 2008, my Mum’s heart gave us a bit of a scare. We were told that her tachycardia was getting really bad, and could kill her before the cancer. So, Mum decided to have surgery in the form of an ablation (basically, they go in without doing any major cutting. They feed a small wire through the veins and burn a small bit of the heart). I related very much to Tori Amos’ Beekeeper album. Specifically a couple songs, but one really stood out:

The lyrics:

Flaxen hair blowing in the breeze
It is time for the geese to head south
I have come with my mustard seed
I cannot accept that she will be taken from me

Do you know who I am? she said
I’m the one who taps you on the shoulder when it’s your time
Don’t be afraid
I promise that she will awake
Tomorrow
Somewhere
Tomorrow
Somewhere

– wrap yourself around
the Tree of Life
and the Dance of the Infinity
of the Hive –
take this message to Michael

I will comb myself into chains
In between the tap dance clan
and your ballerina gang
I have come for the Beekeeper
I know you want my
You want my Queen –
Anything but this
Can you use me instead?

In your gown with your breathing mask
Plugged into a heart machine
As if you ever needed one
I must see the Beekeeper
I must see if she’ll keep her alive
Call Engine 49
I have come with my mustard seed

Maybe I’m passing you by
Just passing you by girl
I’m passing you by
On my way
On my way
I’m just passing you by
But don’t be confused
One day I’ll be coming for you
I must see the Beekeeper
I must see the Beekeeper

If you look in the pictures for my first tattoo, you can see I’m actually wearing my Beekeeper tour shirt. Anyway, back to bees. A few years back, I had quite the connection to bees. They were everywhere, my dreams, my waking life. I couldn’t escape them, so I embraced them instead. Their symbolism is really important to me, and had helped me through a really difficult time. I was obsessed with honey, beekeeping and bees in general, so I turned to them again. Around the same time, Neil Gaiman started posting about his hives and I thought that they would be wonderful models for my next piece. I emailed him and asked if that would be ok, and he replied back saying that it was fine with him.

So, I went back to see Nelson, my tattoo artist and together we came up with this:

Nelson gets started

Colour gets started

Now on to the honeycomb

The finished honey bee <3

So, those are my two current tattoos. I was thinking about getting one after Dad died, but unfortunately it was around that time that I lost my job. I’m not 100% sure what to get for him yet, but I know exactly what I want for Mum. Well. Kind of.

Mum had this thing about ladybugs. She just loved them. She had magnets, she incorporated them into her art as her signature. She had a bobble-headed one in her van. So, I’m thinking that I want to get a lady bug for sure. I’m considering having in on the leaf or petal of a flower. Mum, right before she died, when she was starting to be a little out of it, had a hard time answering some questions. I had asked her what the doctor had told her when they came by and she started talking about the lovely hyacinths and hydrangeas that her friend Bev had just given her. I was confused because no one had been by that day, and she had no flowers in the room (Bev had actually given her hydrangeas a week or two before at the house). I always think back to that, and how sweet it was in such a sad and difficult time.

I also flash to a conversation that she and I had had this past winter. She was thinking about her Dad and told me she wanted to find some geraniums for the house. I asked her why, and she told me that her Dad used to bring them inside in the cold seasons and somehow had them blooming near christmas. The smell of geraniums always reminded her of home and of him and she wanted that for the house.

Peonies, lilacs and callas are also flowers that remind me of my Mum. She loved to garden so very much. So, we’ll have to see. I have this grand plan for a quart or half sleeve of flowers with a ladybug, but who knows. I may decide on something else.

For Dad, I was initially thinking of  a small feather behind one of my ears, but now I’m not sure. It doesn’t seem right. I have so many tattoo plans, it’s hard to decide what to do next.

One thought on “Tattoos Past and Future

  1. Pingback: Death in my Shadow « In Among the Heather

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