My mother has a habit of snapping pics of various objects with her smart phone, sending them to FedEx, and blowing them up to fit frames too large for the likes of a camera phone. As a designer well-versed in the world of printing, you can imagine my horror; it’s criminal.
“Take your shirt off,” she said. “Hold still.”
Our living room dons a 12-foot vaulted ceiling with a wall the size of Texas. It’s covered in family portraits; parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, the whole lot. All huge, all black and white, all low resolution. And printed via FedEx on the most god awful paper. But it’s her creation.
Her next artistic endeavor? My brother’s tattoo. She wanted it for the wall.
Despite Logan’s protest, and quite possibly the most inadequate lighting ever, she insisted on a quick shot of the angel slung across his shoulders. She’d been asking for months; I knew I was next.
But she didn’t know, until Logan ruined it (high-five, bro), that I’d already scheduled a photoshoot for that very purpose. Her gift for Mother’s Day; two 16×20 black and white portraits of Logan and I, and our tattoos.
And more, still.
“What of yours do you see in us?” I asked. She said, “Perseverance and strength I see in both of you. Logan has my heart, and you, my zero tolerance for bullshit.”
Those traits, especially the first two, were the basis for this shoot; images that showcased our inner and outer strengths, as learned from her, and our ink. Images that illustrated Logan’s fight, and my fire. Something physical, something personal. Something worthy of the wall. And, you know, professionally printed (I love you, mom).
So, this happened.
And she cried.
My tattoo—a blooming heart—blossomed from the concept that life thrives where love grows. Botanicals for healing, a serpent for guardianship, and a symbol of rebirth, transformation, and immortality—a reminder that no matter the hurt, growth is possible, and love transcends all.
Logan’s tattoos—quote, script, roman numerals, and guardian angel—are subtle nods to a philosophy of living rooted in inner strength, positivity, and peace. But his most notable mark, a scar beneath his right shoulder blade, tells his most powerful story.
“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, Heaven or Hell.”
Logan was born with a tracheoesophageal fistula, or, in plain english, an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the trachea. Your inner pipes—the tunnels to your lungs and your guts. Being bridged, both milk and air ended up in places they didn’t belong. So, fifteen minutes out of the womb, Logan found himself fighting for life in emergency surgery.
I’ve heard this story many times. Each time retold with the same amount of panic, concern, and heartache only my mother could know. I was three years old then, and still trying to grasp the concept of sisterhood; I couldn’t know that gravity.
That moment, and all of its subsequent challenges, shaped all of us. The necessity for strength, and perseverance, and patience, and support, and love—all of it proved a catalyst for growth. And as we grew, our mother’s extraordinary example of parenting lifted us higher. Our best qualities are evidence of her love.
So we captured all of it, and offered it as a thank you for her selflessness, her patience, and her strength—for everything it took to raise us, knowing well that two photographs couldn’t possibly match the sacrifices she made to keep us happy, healthy, and safe.
She’s already hung them.