I have always loved tattoos. I never expected to have 13 by the time I was 23, but things happen, ya know? Some of my tattoos are just for looks. They’re pretty and perfect to me. While others have an insanely deep meaning that I deemed necessary to mark permanently on my body. Almost everyone has suffered loss at some point in their lives. This post is about the two tattoos that I have that hold the most emotional meaning.
“Smile and the world smiles with you.” My grandpa Forrester used to say this all the time. When he passed away, I had a difficult time coping. I tried to write out my memories with him, the way he looked, smelled and sang. I remembered he always had a pipe in his mouth, a golf hat on and socks pulled halfway up his calves. He called cars “jalopy’s”, called Jordan and I “gal” and would wake up super early to go to Perkins for breakfast on the weekends (my cousin Elliot and I [the chubby ones] always wanted to tag along).
He was a strong man with incredible talents including but not limited to, creating amazing stained glass lamps and pictures and playing countless instruments. He was a WWII vet who established a full life with a doting wife and 8 kids (Kurt, Kent, Cliff, Tim, Elton, Lisa, Dennie and Celeste). He lived in a hand built cabin on a 10 acre piece of land across from Lake Weir Middle School and allowed us to tear it up on our 4wheelers, dirt bikes and golf carts. He liked homemade oatmeal cookies, chicken noodle soup and cranberry juice. His only concern, besides our safety, was that we were learning something and having fun. When I look at my tattoo, I picture his smiling eyes reminding me that smiles are contagious. I miss that man.
The second tattoo that means the most to me is on my right wrist and is simple. A black “S” with pink highlights with the date 3-31-12 underneath. My mom, aunt Becky and I got these a few days after my aunt Sherry, their sister, passed away. Sherry had been struggling with cancer for nine years. Breast, brain, liver and lung. She was the definition of the word “strong”. Growing up, she would take Jordan and I swimming with manatees, to the beach, she would plan insanely awesome themed birthday parties for us and loved us like we were her daughters. Her smile was one in a million, well, two in a million because her daughter, Madeline, has the exact same one. Radiant, gorgeous and extremely contagious. Throughout her cancer struggle, she never stopped. She was always the happy, confident and positive Sherry we all knew and loved. Her love for the Lord was beyond anything I’d ever known. She made friends no matter where she went, and encouraged everyone to be happy and healthy. As I grew up, she talked to me about sex and drugs (& rock and roll?). She told me stories of her past that I never would’ve imagined had been her if she hadn’t told me. Her death changed everything for all of us. When I think of her, I think of strength, beauty and fearlessness. Someone who faced a mountain of pain but made sure to make keep everyone else laughing. Her legacy lives on in all of us, especially Madeline. When I look down at my wrist and see her signature S, I think of the fun, zany, beautiful lady I was so blessed to have known for almost 21 years.
People view tattoos differently. Some think they’re trashy, and some think they’re a creative way to put art on a living canvas. I love tattoos. I have some with deep meanings, some just for fun because they’re pretty and some to remind me of where I’ve come from. Before you judge someone based on their tattoos, remember that we are all different and dealing with different things. Thank you for reading!