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The First Tattoo

I have to admit up until I was in my 30s, I never understood the fascination or reasons behind getting a tattoo. That was the case until my mother's untimely death in 2006. She passed away very suddenly while visiting family in Arizona. She went through a long arduous journey from heart attack to getting therapy. She was preparing to come home so my wife and I decided we were going to prepare the house for her and my father's arrival. We were in the middle of cleaning the house when the call came in from my father. At first, it did not even sound like him and the message he conveyed was even more foreign to me. I was not comprehending what he was saying, "Dan, Mom is gone." I kept asking my father to define what he meant by "gone". Finally, he said it in a way that I understood but cut like a razor through my soul; "Dan, your mother is dead..." The line went silent and I dropped the phone, stunned by the news. I was totally numb and silent. Finally after what seemed an eternity of my standing there lost in my thoughts, I finally responded to my wife with the news. Then I said I need to take a long walk by myself and out the door I went, no clue where I was going or what I was going to do when I got there. I was walking along Lake Avenue in Rochester, NY headed toward the inner harbor which borders Lake Ontario. I always found the water helps me center myself and collect my thoughts. All these times I walked or drove up and down Lake Avenue, I never once even paid much attention to the shops and stores that were there. I noticed this tattoo establishment with this one tattoo artist who was inked pretty much head to foot. I walked across the street to where the artist was and asked him some questions; this was my first conversation ever about tattoos. Caveat: I had always thought they were cool and very nice; I think the key point is I never really had a reason strong enough to consider it. I thanked him for his time and continued on my walk to the beach. For the next few weeks, we were waiting for my mother's remains to be sent from Arizona; mind you I could understand a week but a month is inexcusable. She passed away on March 17th, 2006 and we finally laid her to rest on April 20th. I had to purge all the emotions that were pent up inside me; I simply could not get the feelings or emotions out regardless what I tried until her memorial service. I was a wreck for about a week at least. Fast forward, we are into May now. On my birthday, May 4th, 2006, I decided it was time to get myself my first tattoo. So we drove down to Captain's Custom Tattoo and Tommy was there. I met with him and said, "Today is the day, let's do this." So we went over numerous designs and I guess I must have been mentally overloaded by looking at so many designs. Tommy and my wife both told me that it should be something that means something because it is going to hurt. So, I thought about my mom and the things I knew she loved; suddenly the image of a Monarch Butterfly came to mind. Tommy began his work and came up with a really great design that had the butterfly, my mom's initials and the years of birth and passing. He really took his time and gave me breaks as I needed them. Finally, he was finished with the outline and went onto the colors; I do not recall the color hurting all that much. I equate the needle to feeling like a long deep cat scratch. I was very pleased with his work and it still looks as fresh as the day I got the tattoo.

Photos of My Tattoo