Don’t judge a book by its cover
Roger’s face tells an incredible story Roger Inkbomb, 63, Orange, NSW
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]ficmags.com.au