I never thought that I would get a tattoo. It wasn’t that I had anything against them, I admired them on others, I just never had a desire to get one myself. That is until my mum died February 2014. By the time tattoos got really popular mum was in her seventies, she was also dealing with a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a cancer that affects plasma cells, a kind of white blood cell found in the soft insides of your bones, called marrow. Plasma cells are part of your body’s immune system, therefore her immune system was compromised and she lived in constant pain. She was invited to take part in a clinical trial and responded really well to the treatment. Mum had eight years in remission and lived those years fully. When she was first diagnosed her wish was to live long enough to see her grandsons grow up. She attended her eldest grandsons 21st birthday three months before she died.
Mum often said had she been younger she would have definitely got a tattoo. She talked about a flower or butterfly on her ankle or shoulder. After she died the idea of getting a tattoo in her memory kept coming into my thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need a tattoo or anything physical to remember my mum. It’s two years since she died and I still think about her twenty times a day. It’s not just the big events either, yes Christmas will always be a little lonely without her, birthdays, Easter, family get togethers are always a big reminder of her absence, but it’s also waking up on a Monday morning, Sunday dinners, warm sunny afternoons, cold winter days, the leaves turning in autumn and the yellow primroses growing wild in spring.
At first the memories were painful, a real, physical pain. At times I thought that I couldn’t possibly have any tears left, and then more would come. Then there were the days that I believed I was losing my mind. Losing mum was my first experience of grief and I was overwhelmed by my feelings. There are still times when for a nano second I think to myself ‘Can’t wait to tell mum ………’. Two years on and sometimes the memories still make me sad, but more times now, they bring me comfort. I don’t need a reminder of mum, every part of life reminds me of her because she loved every part of life. She taught me to appreciate nature, to embrace every new experience, to seek adventure, to never stop learning and to live life to its fullest.
When I explained to the tattooist that I wanted the tattoo on my left ribcage he made a face and told me it would hurt, he advised that for my first tattoo I should consider a less painful place on my body. I explained that this was not going to be my first tattoo, it would be my one and only tattoo. It did hurt, getting the tattoo really hurt, and it took two and a half hours, you don’t see that when watching Tattoo Fixers! I did keep giggling to myself though, asking what was I expecting? And it was so worth it, I love the design and the position.
My tattoo is not a reminder of my mum, but rather a tribute in her honour. Every time I show it to someone I get to tell her story, I get to speak about her. It is Primroses, wild primroses, they were her flower. When the guy had finished and I stood in front of the long mirror to admire my tattoo for just a nano second I thought to myself ‘Can’t wait to show mum………!’