Three months ago Jill and I decided to take a break with a tropical island weekend getaway. On our last evening, I dressed adorned in my best island attire complete with an island decorative asher blue shirt with large dark blue orchids, a pair of tan Bermuda shorts, and my brown leather open-toed sandals. Jill was dressed in a pink and white colored floral sundress with white sandals, with pink fingernail polish on her toes and fingers. She topped off her outfit with pink and white orchid pinned on the left side of her curly grey and black hair.
Atmospherically the mood could not have been more romantic, set against the warm tropical ocean breezes of the Cayman Islands softly blowing 70-degree temperatures across our faces. The ambient sweet sounds of soft Caribbean jazz, played while the colorful floral sight of the ever enchanting fragrant pink and yellow lilies adorning the patio and on our table had us both mesmerized as we look out on to the setting sun.
There was, only one problem and I was trying to find the courage to ask my wife of 37 years if she would be ok with me getting a tattoo of her likeness on my left shoulder.
Apparently, the two very strong sweet tasting Pina-Coladas filled with more run than anything else increased my courage builder. After, a couple of sips, I found my courage. But for the life of me, I could not remember the words I wanted to use. The potent Pina-Colada caused me to forget how to phrase my question but, the look upon Jill’s face revealed I had asked the question.
Because for several moments, her brown eyes opened wide starring at me with her mouth agape. Jill took a sip of her drink and with a deep breath, told me to use our wedding photo for her likeness, but the tattoo should be etched over my left breast where my heart is.
My last memory was Jill hugging me tightly when she agreed for me to get the tattoo but, the rest of the evening was a blur.
Upon our returned home, our three adult children hosted a welcome home gathering and a wonderful time we all were having as we talked about the highlights of our weekend getaway.
When Jill and I told them of my intentions to get a tattoo of their mother’s likeness from our wedding photo on my left breast. The look of shock was prevalent on all of their faces to discover their conservative, disciplinarian, 32-year career retired Marine Colonel was getting a tattoo.
It was one of our college-aged grandchildren who recommended a local tattoo artist to have the artwork completed. The tattooist used Jill’s wedding photos to produce a surreal likeness that we were both overwhelmingly happy to see.
As the months progressed Jill’s cancer treatments became unsuccessful and she was losing her battle and was placed in the hospice program. Whenever Jill awakens her eyes fixated on the tattoo on my chest and when it was covered with a t-shirt or my button-down shirts, she would motion with her hands to see and she would smile bringing me so much joy
A week before Jill’s death, our oldest adult daughter standing on the opposite side of the bed watched as her mother smiled seeing the tattoo, stated. Mom, “the tattoo makes you smile so much.”
Jill, who had not spoken in a couple of days softly, stated.
When I see the tattoo, I think of our wedding day, and I know after my death, any woman that wants to be with your father will have to look at me also.
Jill smiled again, our daughter and I began to cry as Jill closed her eyes.
Memories and the sight of something beautiful provokes an emotional feeling of happiness. (M.J.Leake)
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