Tattoo Tuesday

Angela O’Neil remembers father’s summer camp letters with tattoo

Kali Bowden | Staff Photographer

O'Neil associates monarch butterflies with her father's death.

Angela O’Neil’s tattoo represents the memory of her father and keeps his presence close to her. The tattoo is of two monarch butterflies, in addition to her dad’s signature, to pay tribute to her father who died.

After her father died when she was 16, O’Neil said she and her mother would have many chance encounters with monarch butterflies, which she said felt like signs from her father.

The junior health and exercise science major’s tattoo was originally just two colored butterflies, and it wasn’t until later that she decided to add her fathers signature.

“I went to summer camp for a really big portion of my life and my dad made an effort to write to me almost everyday,” she said. “So I thought it would be great to have his signature on me that he wrote in one of the letters.”

Writing had always been a big part of both her and her father’s lives, O’Neil said. She said her father kept journals before she was born and continued on until his death. He encouraged her to keep her own journal, and she would throw fits every time he sat her down to write.

“Now, I would give anything to be able to write in my journal with him again,” she said.

Just recently, O’Neil started writing in journals again — she wants to make sure she remembers her favorite moments of her college years. Outside of journal keeping, O’Neil’s father passed many of his other hobbies down to her, including basketball.

O’Neil said she tries to follow her dad’s good sportsmanship, always making a point to go out of her way for people who need someone to talk to. Her tattoos are a reminder to do just that.

“I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with what I thought really represented him and what would stick with me for the rest of my life,” she said. “It was my last way of carrying him with me everyday now that I can’t communicate or be with him.”

O’Neil still enjoys sharing the memory behind her tattoos because she is so grateful for how well they represent her relationship with her father.

“It’s still really hard when they’re not actually right there with you,” she said. “This is the closest physical thing that I can keep with me everyday.”

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