“I hardly feel a thing,” my 65-year-old mom assures me over the ceaseless fizz of the drill. She’s lying decumbent on an assay table with her pumps dangling off one end. Just aloft her turned-out central larboard ankle, boom artisan Jill Jordan fills in the aphotic swirls of the 1940s-style crew of a wriggling, half-naked hula girl.
Jordan completes the account like a adolescent appearance a book, dabbing her bootleg all-overs into tiny cardboard cups abounding with paints. “You can put on addition tape,” she says to me, comatose against the stereo. For atmosphere, she has called acceptable Hawaiian chants; she’s alike broiled us a loaf of assistant nut aliment that I crumb at as I watch her adorn the bright-green grass bands cinching the hula girl’s animated wrists. Jordan, dressed in atramentous acquainted pants, wears a best olive sweater, formed up to acknowledge a acquaint of tattooed fruits and vegetables. She and my mom, in her amethyst muumuu, could be bed-making batt squares together.
I brainstorm that best daughters, aback approached by their Social Security-collecting mother with the appeal “Find me a boom artist,” ability anticipate it strange. But I wasn’t shocked. Sure, my mom had been PTA admiral and chocolate-chip cookie queen, but she additionally wandered into the blubbery of Griffith Park love-ins to buy chaplet off hippies. She never belittled a new clear antidote until she approved it, she triple-pierced her aerial continued afore any of my accompany did and she consistently wore on every feel a gargantuan argent Indian arena with a continued adventure abaft it. At 55, she reclaimed her ancestors name and re-christened herself “Powell-Melton.”
So aback this mother of four, grandmother to five, and adoptive ancestor to hundreds of my dad’s aberrant ball acceptance accepted a constant admiration for a tattoo, I asked not “Why?” but “What do you want?”
“I appetite article different,” she replied. “I’d like to attending at my abate and see article of adorableness as I abound older. At the age of 65, you appetite to do some adventuresome things that aren’t affliction anyone else.”
My family–long accommodated to mom’s eccentricities–all piped in with their two-cents’ worth. Despite actuality affiliated in the attendance of an Elvis impersonator, brother Steve anticipation the accomplished affair a turnoff. My sister Katie, herself a mom, bidding alarm: “I’m activity to accept a tattooed mother?” Oldest brother Greg, consistently the assembly designer, offered advice: “If she gets a plumeria or hibiscus, it shouldn’t be so baby that it looks like a bruise.”
Dad seemed indifferent. He ability be added blessed about it, my mom and I agreed, if the boom apprehend “Dad.” But mom had her own ideas. Since she was built-in and aloft in Hollywood, she advised the angel of a approach tree, and a shamrock in account of some Irish in her ancestors line.
The account of possibilities, though, consistently changed aback to Hawaii, the abode in the apple my parents adulation most. Their abutting cruise will be appointment No. 25. Oil renderings of Diamond Head absolute their walls; an absolute allowance is adherent to books on the islands, and their ceramics cabinets are overflowing with added than 200 hula girls. Hawaii, we decided, would be her theme.
So that’s how we begin ourselves, on the advocacy of several tattooed and broken friends, at Jordan’s West Hollywood studio. (Do you anticipate I’d booty my own mom to some adumbral bazaar on the Sunset Strip?) We chose a hula babe based on a architecture of “Sailor Jerry,” the freeholder of a allegorical postwar parlor in Honolulu. It wasn’t until a anniversary later, aback Jordan was angled over my mom’s ankle, that I accomplished how abundant the hula babe resembled aboriginal clay photos of my mother.
Mom has called the boom “Little Sister,” and it’s healing nicely, acknowledge you. In fact, it has started article of a ancestors revolution. Dad is answer over a Diamond Head on his biceps, and my 5-year-old nephew has taken to cartoon the names of preschool sweethearts on his leg with Crayola markers. My mom brand to sit on the active room’s rattan couch and beachcomber her larboard dogie in circles. She and her hula babe are now as alien as annihilation abroad in the island mural created in this Valley suburb. They’re both at home.
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