LIFE AFTER: Dad’s Eagle Tatt

Ever since I was a toddler whipping through the spiff streets of SV on my bike equipped with fresh training wheels, I’ve had this mad interest in tattoos. If you go into my fam’s vault of photos, you can find me in a tank top, flexing my freshly applied temporary tiger tatt while sipping on a can of 7-Up. My love for art contributed to it, but I know deep down that this obsession over tatts was born after my dad and I snuck into the bathroom so he could unveil an eagle holding a rose on his left shoulder in secret. 

I have no idea how he thought he was going to hide it from my mom who had been adamant about her disdain for body modifications, but maybe that added to the appeal. My dad wanted this piece so bad that even his love for his wife (they just had their 26 year anniversary, so I know it’s real) was not enough to stop him from getting it, teaching me that there is a proper time to rebel against the norm and break out of our caves. He needed this tattoo to feel like himself for once; he could weather the storm of my beautiful mother’s rage if it meant he could get this permanent piece of art on his body.

My family has a history of anxiety. My dad, sis, and I constantly radiate this vibe of angst that we’re trying to keep tame at all times. It’s been a process trying to figure out what to do to properly function as a successful member of society, but we’ve found that accepting that we’re a family of black sheep (s/o Scott Pilgrim) is all we can do. Instead of trying to fit in, we now unconsciously do what makes us stand out, even if standing out isn’t necessarily the goal. It is a part of our nature to do what we want in a world that seems to want us to do everything but that, even if it means that all we’re attaining is an illusion of control.

As a kid, I didn’t quite understand why that tattoo was so important to him and something he was willing to get an earful for, but the older I get and the more life experience I gain, the more I comprehend the feeling. We don’t get to choose a lot of things in our life-- the circumstances we are born in are determined before we can even smile or open our eyes. The family we have, the home we live in, the way we look, and more are essentially out of our control. Hell, the shit that happens to us rarely feels like it was our own doing. But with tattoos it’s different. With tattoos, we get to choose.


It’s been over a decade and a half since my dad got that first tatt. Since then, he’s gotten another eagle piece that covers his right shin and calf, and 10 days ago, at the age of 59, my sister and I had the honor of getting him yet another eagle tattoo placed on his left shin for his birthday/xmas gift. When we thought of the idea of copping him a tatt, my sister and I thought nothing of it, but as we excitedly shared the process of him getting it through social media, the reaction we got from y’all proved to us that this wasn’t as normal as it seemed. My dad still has anxiety and has no clue how to get rid of it. But my dad also still doesn’t give a fuck and does what makes him happy. So if you ever wonder how the hell I’ve made it this far given my circumstances, please know that it has a lot to do with the influence of my dad and his eagle tatts.


I once asked my dad why he always got tatts of eagles. He claims that he just loves the bird and thinks it looks cool, but on a different day, he also randomly mentioned to me that it was the favorite animal of his older brother that passed away when I was in middle school. When his brother left us, it was the only time in my life that I had ever seen my dad cry. I don’t think he realizes it and has never actually said it, but I like to think that all these eagles on his body are dedicated to him.

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