Sunday, August 23, 2015


Several weeks ago I walked into a tattoo shop, hardcore rapper music playing loudly in the background, and had a brief conversation with the tattoo artist who, yesterday, put the above tattoo on my wrist for me. As we talked at that initial meeting he seemed to be trying really hard to connect with us. The conversation seemed a bit stilted  and I wondered if we were not his typical clientele and if he was feeling a bit rattled. As we talked every single preconceived idea I had about tattoo shops was shouting in my head.

I liked that he maintained eye contact as I was trying really hard to read what was in his eyes. In the vein of trying to make conversation I asked if he had ever done any tattoos on mastectomy scars. I think his ears heard me say vasectomy scars by mistake. Oh, ouch. No. Never. He didn't say that but when he asked me to repeat my question my hand went to the empty side of my chest and he understood instantly. No, he hadn't ever but he was all about doing whatever people needed in order to feel beautiful about themselves.

Beautiful about themselves. I've worked so hard on feeling beautiful about myself and when his words pierced a deep wound I wasn't even aware was there, tears sprang instantly to my eyes. His eyes immediately softened and I was able to see such a depth of kindness there. Dearest One kept talking with him while I left the shop and stood and sobbed on the sidewalk.

Yesterday I walked into the shop and the music was truly awful. Long time readers know I have my very own potty mouth but there was something jarring about f bombs and other indelicacies being shouted out in time to a very heavy beat. I did some deep breathing, some praying, anything to distract me from being bombarded with the noise. At the same time, because I believe that art, all art, speaks truth to us, I respect people's rights to express that in whatever way speaks to them.

I wondered if the tattoo artist would remember our conversation about mastectomy scars. Well, what I really wondered was whether he would remember my reaction to that conversation. He did. He told me he was honoured that I would consider having him do such a tatoo.

The whole appointment to get my tattoo lasted about 30 minutes. We had the nicest conversation that included how he has a tattoo of his mother's name on his own wrist as a reminder to make his mother feel proud of him by his actions and morals. He's a loving father of a little girl and the best part of his day so far had been spending time with her.

It's such a gift in this world when our preconceived ideas get shot full of holes.

Kindness often springs up in the unlikeliest places.


annie said...

I truly love this story, Hope.

My eldest tells the story of getting a tattoo to honor her brother, and how she and the tattoo artist both cried as they talked and he worked.

When my son was alive, he had my mother bring him to the tattoo shop, and my mother, being curious, got out and went in to check it out. That story is part of our family lore as well.

You are so smart to know that "It's such a gift in this world when our preconceived ideas get shot full of holes." It is so very true, and your noticing and appreciating that is one of the many places where we connect.

Thank you for always so bravely (well, okay maybe sometimes with a little trepidation!) telling your story.

Hope said...

Thank you, Annie. He took payment only by email and there was a spot to leave a comment. I wrote - "There is a depth of kindness in your eyes. I hope you know that."

Love you, my friend.

Daisy said...

Wow, a truly gentle tale. Wonderful.