Tattoos were a topic of discussion with my son from his teen years.  He had the tenacity to end every conversation (well, not EVERY, but it seemed like it) with “Mom, can I get a tattoo?”  The answer was always “No.”  Just a firm “No.”  When his father was in the Navy, he used to amuse me with stories of the strange and stupid tattoos his fellow sailors got while on leave.  I asked him if he was tempted, and he said he thought about it, but thought again.

When I was growing up, tattoos were seen on burly guys who had been in the service or strange people you didn’t want to associate with.  They were not common in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s.  When they started coming into vogue, my husband and I were on an island resort beach and saw an older couple, maybe 70s, probably from Europe, with tattoos.  It made us laugh because the tattoos were sagging and not so attractive.

At one point in the tattoo discussion years, I gave my son a wonderful tie with tattoos designs, telling him this was the tattoo he had been asking for.  Stupid me.  He loved the tie, but he didn’t give up the idea.

IMG_5049Needless to say, he started getting tattoos as soon as he went to college, starting with his fraternity letters on his ankle.  I excused that as something that at least would last forever.  The next ones were the family crests of my family and his father’s on his shoulders and the celtic design on his lower back, telling me they were to honor his grandfathers.  Really.  There was the penguin he got on his leg when we went to Seattle for his cancer treatment.  I have to say it was at least a work of art.  There was the mad kitten attacking the ball of yarn on his upper arm when he licked cancer the first time, a symbol of his triumph.  And there was some weird wolverine or something on his forearm.  God knows why.163996_1576103763497_1262679120_31377092_8035279_n

He’s gone now and we never finished our conversation on the tattoos because he was going to do what he was going to do.  I never got to tell him how carefully I protected his skin with lotions when he was a baby, how I worried over every blemish, bruise and scar that marred his perfect skin.  He was a work of art from the day he was born.  I didn’t understand why he needed to cover anything, but I did appreciate his love for life and his attempt to experience every bit of it he could.  I loved him for that and tried not to grimace at the tattoos.

I’m trying to understand the body art I see everywhere and not relating to the addiction that people have to it.  I’m not criticizing, just trying to understand.  I’m getting older by the moment and I can only visualize what a tattoo would look like on the parts of my body that change (I won’t mention droop) from year to year.  On the other hand, I have seen photos of gorgeous tattoos covering women who have had double mastectomies and understand the beauty of that.

It’s also amusing to know that this too shall pass and the next generation or the next one will look at their parents and grandparents and see the tattoos and do something different, whatever that may be.  Maybe they’ll just choose to go with what they have.  I watch my grandkids and wonder if they’ll leave home and head for the tattoo parlor because it’s legal and everywhere.  Their mothers must be cringing as much as I was.

In my wisdom of the ages, I know that the only thing I could have done to stop my son was to sacrifice and get tattooed myself so it wouldn’t be so cool.  But he would have thought of something else, so I’m glad I saved my own skin to let it age naturally, age spots and all.   I tend to look beyond the skin these days anyway.