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Steel Magnolia (Day 5 #HAWMC)

Posted Apr 05 2012 10:34pm

Ekphrasis Post: Go to flickr.com/explore and write a post inspired by the image. Can you link it to your health focus? Don't forget to post the image!

Magnolias ....

I have to admit, when the page opened, and this was the picture before me, I was stunned.

They're pink Japanese magnolias. And I know this because in 2008, I had them tattooed on my arm
I had wanted a tattoo for a very long time, ever since I became a mother. But since it is permanent, I kept putting it off. By the time I knew for sure I wanted one, I had no clue what to get. I wanted something meaningful. Something beautiful. And most definitely, something I would never regret.

During this mental debate, I watched my 2 children take on a new challenge with confidence, talent, and enthusiasm: Judo. They were fearless from the get-go. My son loved the rough-and-tumble aspect of it. My daughter became a fierce competitor, winning gold her very first tournament. We all learned some basic Japanese.

And so, my idea for my tattoo literally blossomed.

My children have helped me deal with my illnesses in so many ways. Not only do they offer comfort, or do errands for me, but they literally give me something to live for. I honestly don't know how people who are alone and struck by chronic illness keep going.

In addition, watching them taking on something new--taking on competitors while my stomach lurched--I somehow gained strength through their courage. My son deals with his life-threatening food allergies every day, and is one of the happiest kids I know. My daughter is multi-talented; every accomplishment seems effortless. And being surrounded by that kind of energy makes them my inspiration.

Once I decided that my tattoo would be a tribute to them, their strength and inspiration, it didn't take long to realize I didn't just want their names inscribed in ink. Instead I wanted the Japanese Kanji Judoka and Joshi (left to right, top to bottom, each character a syllable). The meanings, boy student of judo, female/female student of judo, we the embodiment of my kids and their attitudes about taking on challenges in life.

Before the tattoo was finalized, my Mother in Law passed away after a 5 year battle with cancer. Never once did she give up. Even when the cancer metastasized into her brain she kept going, smiling, even naming her wig. She was taken from us quickly, unexpected, and it was a blow that we still feel to this day.

The magnolias were the final touch. She had a beautiful magnolia tree in her yard with giant white blossoms bigger than your hand. In keeping with the Japanese theme, I simply incorporated the pink Japanese variety, and used a few pictures very similar to the one above for the tattoo artist to use






I actually smiled the entire time I got my tattoo (and surprisingly, it has helped me deal with my fear of needles). I absolutely love it and looking at it reminds me to keep going, keep fighting, never quit. I love showing it off and explaining the meaning, and my kids are so proud of it. I'm looking forward to getting more tattoos in the future, but I have a feeling this one will always be my favorite.
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