This is the best angle of the beginning of the work on my right arm. We did four and a half hours on Saturday. I think it'll probably end up being somewhere around 20, my tattoo artist is pretty fast. There's another magnolia further down on my arm that you can't see in this shot.
This tattoo is sort of a memorial tattoo for my father. When it's finished it'll have three magnolias, a hummingbird, a red tailed hawk, tree blossoms, and a portrait of my mom and dad from the 60s. It's already incredibly beautiful and we're only a few hours in.
In case your curious about the background story - my dad loved birds, especially hummingbirds and hawks. Growing up we had a backyard full of fruit trees, red tailed hawks and hummingbirds. My dad and I would hang out on the back porch while he smoked and talk about life, politics, music, religion etc etc. He also told me many of his great hilarious stories out there and there was a lot of reciting and memorizing of limericks and silly tales.
And of course, we also talked about the birds. He admired the hawks for their grace, strength and swiftness, and the hummingbirds for their feistiness and willpower.
A few years ago we were sitting back there, watching the hummingbirds, and I brought up my grandfathers death. He paused and then said that he honestly felt that my grandfather had come to him to say goodbye.
"I've told so many people that story and they all think that I'm full of shit! But you know that it's true."
When I was ten we were taking a trip up the coast in our motorhome when my grandfather had a stroke. My dad decided that the best thing to do was to go back home, but I think he was dreading going back since my grandfather had told him previously that as his oldest son it was his responsibility to shoot him in the head if he ever became crippled in any way. Whatever the reason, we turned the motorhome around, headed a few miles along the Washington coast and stopped at a waterpark for the night. We were sitting inside just hanging out that night when my dad suddenly looked up and said "Grandpa just died." He looked shocked. As a 10 year old who was WAY into ghost stories and everything creepy I looked at the clock to record the time. It was 7:03.
The next morning we called the hospital. My grandfather had passed away at 7:03 pm, right when my dad had felt him say goodbye.
That's the only reason why I have any faith in any sort of afterlife at all. I clung to that story when my dad died and although my dad's death didn't have the same sort of clear connection with him being gone, I did get a very strong, suffocating urgency to get to Riverside and be with him about a half an hour before he died, and then a HUGE sense of relief that I had finally made up my mind about going to see him. I was due to give birth at any time and was stuck in San Francisco on my doctor's advice. My dad had been in the hospital for a week. I called my mom and left an overly excited crazy message about how I was going to get in the car and get down there, when she called me back I answered the phone feeling lighter then I had in weeks. Then she told me he was gone.
I think about him everyday. He was never too sure about his only daughter having tattoos, but I think he'd like this one. At the very least I know he'd greatly admire the art.
Tattoo by Jeff Gogue.