Tom and Carleen
(father and daughter)
Loveland, Colorado, USA
Tom: I’ve always been a fan of tattoos but knew that, if I were to get them, they would have to represent my religious beliefs. I didn’t want something trendy or transient, like a band name or a company logo. I mean, I like the Monkees and Jeeps, but I needed to go deeper than that. Actually, my first tattoo – on my upper arm - was a small dove, which for me represented the Holy Spirit. It was too small though, and faded quite a bit over the years. So I upgraded to bigger bird – an eagle. It’s basically a flash art design (pre-made design off the wall displays) with a little bit of customization.
Underneath, I had the artist add Isaiah 40:31, which proclaims that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength and rise up as with wings of eagles. I have pretty bad arthritis, and this is my way of saying that – with God’s help – I can “run but not grow weary.” As with all winged designs, this serves for me as symbol of the Holy Spirit.
My second tattoo, on my upper calf, is a Sacred Heart of Jesus. I always wanted one of these; to me it is one of the most intense and richest symbols of my Catholic faith. I happened to be in a tattoo shop one Valentine’s day where the three artists had each designed a custom heart tattoo just for that day. They were donating all proceeds to charity, so I thought, “Go for it.” I also had this moderately customized. My mother has been widowed twice, and I had the artist add the initials of the last name of my two fathers.
My third tattoo – on my right arm - completes the set. When in Hawaii, I encountered a Filipino woman who created original tattoo designs for indigenous Filipino family lines. I wanted to get one from her. For years, I had been carrying around the Hebrew saying “Ayeh, Asher, Ayeh,” which means “I am who I am.” (What God said to Moses from the burning bush). I wanted it incorporated into some type of design, but wasn’t sure what. When I met Yvette, I asked her to draw me a turtle – a symbol of god to many cultures – that had both Polynesian and Southwestern influences, and to put the Hebrew lettering on the shell. I love the finished product, and I now have the Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit – integrated into my three designs.
Of course, given my interest in tattoos, I wasn’t surprised when my 18-year-old announced she was planning to get one. Fortunately, she let me have a little say in “where” and “how big.” But she designed it herself, and I think it’s pretty neat. When I read her story explaining why she wanted this tattoo, I was really proud of her. I helped her find an artist, and took her to her appointment. Like father, like daughter, eh?
Carleen: I have grown up with an interest in tattoos and have always been fascinated with the idea of permanently scarring (or marking, whichever you prefer) one's body as an art form. My dad is the person who started my interest in tattoos because he has tattoos, and he used to ride motorcycles. He even took the family to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and there were a lot of people with tattoos there.
I have been thinking about getting a tattoo since I was about 14 years old, but I figured that I should wait until I was 18 and considered an adult, so I could make sure I knew what I really wanted. Currently, I have two tattoo designs that I am really exited about. The first design is a cross with a blue ribbon flowing around it that drips like water on the bottom; written on the blue ribbon are the words "sum quae sum" which is Latin for "I am who I am" (inspired by an idea from Dad). There are a number of reasons I designed this tattoo--the main one being religious. This tattoo represents the Trinity because the cross is Christ, the Latin words are a reference to God, and the ribbon resembles the Holy Spirit because water is one the images of the Holy Spirit. The design also tells about my personality because it represents my beliefs and morals and my independence. I am a firm believer in being yourself, and "I am who I am" states that perfectly. The Latin translation that I chose is also conjugated in the female form.
The second design that I have, and is actually going to be my first tattoo, is a treble clef and a cross combined. My love for music and my love for the Lord are the inspiration for this tattoo. Not only do I love to praise God with music, I thank him for the musical talents that He has given me. Also, I just love music because it is an expression of the soul for which I am very grateful.
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