By Rachel Ezzo
Recently, a good friend and I were discussing memorials. That might seem like an odd discussion to an outsider but both of us have experienced the death of loved ones in the last few years. My friend established a scholarship in her daughter’s memory and a small garden at the school she attended. I lamented not having done something more public after my Aunt Linda died to honor her. My friend pointed out that establishing the scholarship and garden was a good option because of the relationship her daughter had with this school and she knew that her daughter would have been pleased by being honored publicly. It fit her daughter’s personality and it was also something that my friend was comfortable with organizing.
The more I thought about it the more I knew my Aunt would not have particularly cared for a public memorial. She would have appreciated the idea of a scholarship, but Linda was an extremely private person. I wanted to honor her but in a way that felt consistent with her personality and mine. And, there are a million ways to honor someone from establishing a scholarship in that person’s name to a tree being planted in their honor.
I have honored my Aunt in my own way many times. After her death I made a donation to the animal shelter she loved and supported. I’ve written blog posts about her and shared stories about her on social media both for Kate’s Club and personally. But, there is one pretty big memorial I have to her. Last year I decided to get a tattoo that symbolized my aunt’s life and our relationship. Not everyone was thrilled with my tattoo (sorry Dad!). But, I was. I think my aunt would have liked it. My aunt was a successful and professional business woman. But, she also got a nose ring in her late forties/early fifties – her own version of rebellion. She would have, however, also appreciated that my tattoo is largely hidden and doesn’t detract from my professional life.
But, I still think she would have liked it. And, I love it when people ask me about it. My tattoo is like a physical manifestation of the emotions that I feel tattooed on my heart and the story of our relationship together. My Aunt Linda was this amazing person who mentored and cared for me. Whose involvement in my life opened so many additional doors and options for me. And, it also symbolizes freedom for her. I will miss her every day of my life but am thankful that she isn’t suffering. Even the bluebird has both a metaphorical and literal context. Linda’s name won’t ever be on public display or memorialized with some grand gesture. But, any time anyone asks me about my tattoo I’m happy to share a little bit about our story. It makes me feel closer to her and it is a memorial that works for both of us.