Memorials in Ink – 1

I used to come home from school with reminders and notes written on my hands, maybe a doodle or two, depending on how the day went. Without fail, every time my grandfather saw this, he would take my hand or hands in his, and gently scold me not to write all over myself. It’s a little ironic that I would forever ink his handwriting on my body as a special memorial to him.

Papa Joe knew almost right away he had a wild one on his hands. I have letters and birthday cards from early in my life where he would include the phrase “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me” somewhere in the body or near the end of the notes. The card that produced my tattoo was from around my 6th birthday. It features a group of scraggly cowboys, eating from tin cups around a campfire. Inside, Papa Joe had made mention of “not getting myself into a stew”, and how even at the age of six, he was already worried about where my curiosities would lead me.

Papa Joe was not only my grandfather, but my father figure as I grew up. I spent many a summer and weekend on the farm under his watchful eye. He taught me amazing life lessons that I will treasure and continue to learn from, but the most important one was to know and BELIEVE that “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”
*** Hello, friends.

Initially, when the call went out via facebook and the twitterverse, I knew I wanted to write a piece on memorial tattoos, and wanted to include the stories and art of people I knew that were open to share.

I received an overwhelming response… so much so, that I will be visiting this topic on multiple writing installments as stories are shared with me.

If you would like to have your Momento Mori tattoo featured in a future Memorials in Ink blog post, please email me at