Don’t judge a book by its cover

Roger’s face tells an in­cred­i­ble story Roger Inkbomb, 63, Or­ange, NSW

that's life (Australia) - - Contents -

Tend­ing to her beau­ti­ful gar­den was when my mum, Jean, was her hap­pi­est.

Mum’s pride and joy were her English red roses.

‘They can sur­vive 100 years, you know,’ she’d say, smil­ing.

And with my mother’s lov­ing touch, they would!

My dad, Keith, was a gar­den­ing en­thu­si­ast too.

While the ruby red roses were Mum’s do­main, he adored his stun­ning blue petu­nias. You’d never meet two nicer peo­ple than my par­ents.

They were each other’s world and when Dad passed away in his 80s, Mum was lost.

So, I moved in to help her out.

As she got older, it was tough for her to get out in the gar­den, but she’d sit in a chair and watch me.

Gar­den­ing was in my blood too, and the pretty flow­ers made me feel happy.

It’d been four years since we lost Dad when Mum passed away sud­denly, aged 83, from an asthma at­tack. I was bro­ken.

She was the best – there’ll never be an­other one like her, I thought, dis­traught.

Miss­ing Mum, I wanted to pay trib­ute to her some­how.

And I knew ex­actly how I’d do it! I’d make a gor­geous gar­den in Mum’s mem­ory – but tat­too it on my face and head!

Since get­ting a gold snake and skull inked on my arm when I was 18, I’d loved go­ing un­der the nee­dle.

Mum had al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated my body art too, even when my tat col­lec­tion con­tin­ued to grow.

But I’d never had any done on my face be­fore.

Mum’s lucky num­ber was 18, so I de­cided I’d get that many red roses - along with bright blue petu­nias for

Dad - etched onto my skin.

And to pro­tect the oa­sis, a fierce tiger could crouch on the back of my head!

Right on top of my skull, look­ing down lov­ingly over the heav­enly scene, there’d be a beau­ti­ful woman.

Mum would’ve loved it, I thought.

Now, I just had to find a tat­too artist who’d help me bring my vi­sion to life.

See, it can be an in­cred­i­bly dan­ger­ous job – if the nee­dle hit a nerve, I could end up with fa­cial paral­y­sis.

So, I went to the very best tat­tooist I knew, Kye, and told him I wanted to make Mum a spe­cial me­mo­rial.

‘I’ll give you a face and head that ev­ery­one will re­mem­ber,’ he said.

If the nee­dle hit a nerve, I could end up with fa­cial paral­y­sis

With the nee­dle drum­ming on my skin, I felt a burn­ing sen­sa­tion. But I didn’t so much as move a mus­cle.

It felt like Mum was there with me, sooth­ing the pain.

Such a big pro­ject couldn’t be com­pleted in one hit, so over sev­eral months the mas­ter­piece came to life.

When it was done, I stared in the mir­ror and knew that Mum would be proud.

It’s been more than a decade since I lost my sweet mother and I think about her ev­ery day.

An amaz­ing baker, Mum loved mak­ing scones.

To this day, I can’t eat one with­out think­ing of her and how much she was loved.

But my par­ents are al­ways with me.

Now 63, I’ve lost count of my tat­toos – but I’ve got at least 100.

Out and about, peo­ple stare. Some have even bumped into poles and build­ings when they catch sight of me! Tourists crowd around, click­ing cam­eras.

‘If you had a dol­lar for ev­ery photo, you’d be a mil­lion­aire by now!’ my friend, June, laughs.

Tak­ing one look at me, it’d be easy to think I live a ‘crim­i­nal’ life, but I’ve never taken drugs and I can’t see the sense in drink­ing booze. I love na­ture, camp­ing and fish­ing, and, be­fore hav­ing a heart at­tack a year ago, I worked for the coun­cil as a gar­dener.

You should never judge a book by its cover.

For now, I have no plans for any more tats, but who knows what the fu­ture holds? Stuff grow­ing old grace­fully – I’m do­ing it dis­grace­fully!

As told to Beth Young

Roger is do­nat­ing his pay­ment to Syd­ney Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal.

My tat­toos are a very per­sonal trib­ute Some peo­ple trip over star­ing at me I have a tiger on the back of my headIs there an amaz­ing story be­hind yourtat­toos or body mod­i­fi­ca­tion? Tell us at tl.fea­[email protected]­fic­

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