dia de los muertos!

I talked about how much I love Dia de los Muertos last year and how I learned more about it in college, since I didn’t get to celebrate it growing up. I discussed the sugar skull tattoo I have on my back, which I dedicated to my grandmother. It’s by far my favorite tattoo, but it may have some competition very soon. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’ve had a rough go at it lately. My mom’s older sister, my tia Teresa, passed away last week after suffering from a severe stroke. Unlike my grandma, it was sudden and unexpected.  She was one of the oldest out of a family of 10 and often acted like a second mom to everyone else, my mother included. It’s been difficult to process the whole situation. I miss her dearly and at the same time, am having trouble even comprehending she’s gone. All of my mom’s siblings (with the exception of two tios that passed away before I was born) have been around my whole life. I don’t know life without any of them, especially my tia Tere.

I’ve been incredibly sad since I heard the news but today isn’t a day to be sad. Today is Dia de los Muertos, so I have to honor her memory and remember all the times she made me laugh and all the ridiculous nicknames she gave me growing up. I’ll remember her, my grandma, and my grandfather and keep on a smile on my face, because I’m so grateful to have had them in my life.

And now, back to this tattoo business. Much like my sugar skull piece, this one has been in the making for a very long time. I’ve given this one a lot of thought, as it will be my 2nd big piece and also related to Dia de los Muertos. This time, it’s a commemorative piece for my grandpa, who passed away the same year as my grandma (note: this grandpa is my dad’s dad and this grandma is my mom’s mom). My grandfather was the first person I ever knew with tattoos. He had traditional ones from his days in the military, so the ink was almost a faded, darkish green color. He had my grandma’s name on one arm (Leonor) and the Virgin de Guadalupe on the other. I was always fascinated by them,  since I had always been lead to believe that tattoos were for tough guys and troublemakers. My grandpa was anything but that. He was a big man with a big laugh who liked to carry me on his shoulders. He made coke floats regularly, knew how to pick out the perfect watermelon, and loved to crack open and eat pecans. I knew he deserved a tattoo in his memory as well, and I’ve finally settled on what I want:

This is a painting called Rosa, by the artist Sylvia Ji. She does absolutely amazing work and I’m hoping to find a great artist in Chicago who can do this piece justice. Just as my sugar skull tattoo is on the lower right side of my back, this one will be placed on my upper left shoulder.

I can’t say for sure that grandpa would have approved of my tattoos, but I’d like to think he’d be impressed. :)


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