Over the last eight months I have opened my life to experience more of this world by trying new things. I have been learning about the world and about myself through this process. One thing I have learned is to never say never! There are things that I have said I would never do and in August I did one of those things.
My sister began the conversation with, “Hear me out.” She knew what my first reaction was going to be when she announced that she had an adventure for me. Since my adventures have only included her once before, I was excited that she wanted to join in. So, I heard her out.
“Let’s get tattoos.”
“Teri, you know how I feel about tattoos – “
“Hear me out. Let’s get tattoos of ladybugs as a permanent reminder of Mom.”
Okay, now I was listening and softening. See since Mom died in October last year ladybugs have been a seemingly ever present reminder of her.
It started when I began to search for family stories and funny stories to pass the hours with Mom. As Lewy Body Dementia took more of her she was unable to do much. We all tried to relieve her boredom with pictures and stories.
Dad always a man of few words; often said he ran out of things to talk about. He just couldn’t talk on and on, but he knew I could so he enlisted me to help. Teri often said my job was to act goofy and make Mom laugh. Acting goofy; also something I could do.
I reached out to family and friends to beef up my reservoir of interesting and funny stories. My aunt Connie told me a story of hers and Jim’s anniversary. They were heading to the casinos in French Lick, IN and my aunts (my Mom has five wonderful, wacky sisters) decided to give Connie their good luck charms. Connie wrote, “I ended up with two nuts, a rock and I would have had a dead ladybug, but Cheryl went to kiss it for good luck. She laughed so hard she snuffed it up her nose.”
That story was a winner. Mom laughed every time I told it. We often talked about Cheryl’s ladybug habit and laughed. The great thing about my aunts is they never minded that I used their crazy antics to make Mom laugh.
Shortly after Mom died I was talking to my brother on the phone and he told me there were ladybugs all over the side of his house. He had never seen so many ladybugs in one place. I reminded him of the story and told him I thought this was our sign that Mom was happy and laughing again in heaven. She was once again whole, healthy and happy.
Since that time ladybugs have appeared in all of our lives at one time or another. Tom had several living in his house. My niece found some in her apartment and crawling across her foot once. Tom and I both have found them on the 9th and 6th floors of the office buildings we work in. The ladybugs are everywhere and so when we see them we smile and think of Mom.
When Teri suggested ladybug tattoos I couldn’t resist. The fact that my 13 year old niece drew the ladybugs was another plus.
We weren’t sure what Dad would think about the tattoos, but when I said I could see Mom there in heaven shaking her head, grinning, and saying “I don’t know where I went wrong with those two” Dad couldn’t help but laugh.
Teri found a great tattoo place and we visited to make sure it was clean and reputable. Our artist was a sweet guy named Mike. We felt comfortable and set up our appointments. This definitely wasn’t a get drunk and get a tattoo endeavor.
Teri got hers first while I was at a concert on a Saturday night. She sent me pictures and texts after it was all over. One text said, “It’s all over. The pain is excruciating. T (her 13 year old) is driving home.” I began to have second thoughts. She, of course, was kidding and I only had a few moments of thinking, “What the heck am I doing!?!”
My time came on Tuesday evening. T went with me for moral support since Teri was working. It was a little nerve wracking. The thought of needles permanently altering my leg was scary and I began to wonder if I had truly lost my mind.
The pain WAS excruciating and I felt as if my foot was being amputated. Just kidding! It was really no more painful than those shots the dentist gives. I had three little ladybugs inked on my right ankle. The whole process took about 20 minutes.
Now the ladybugs will be with me forever. As a little old lady I will look at my ankle and think of Mom. Will I get another tattoo? Doubtful! But I have experienced a little more this world has to offer and won’t ever be able to forget this adventure!