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Thanksgiving and my new perspective on tattoos

Last week I spent Thanksgiving in Dallas with my husband Garry’s family. Because we all travel from various cities, we stay at a hotel near the airport.

This is the second year we have stayed at the Embassy Suites at the DFW airport.

It was a lovely three days – and the highlight is that I get to spend quality time with my 94-year-old mother-in-law. But it was actually the short ride on the hotel shuttle back to the airport that changed my life.

I was the only passenger on the shuttle and Stephen was my driver. I noticed that he had bandages on both forearms, so I had to ask.

He told me that the hotel has a “no visible tattoos” policy, and he forgot his regular armbands that day, so he had to cover his tattoos up with ace bandages. For some reason I asked him about his tattoos.

The one on his right arm has the name of his little sister.

And his left arm says “No regrets.”

Turns out Stephen served in the Marine Corps for four years. He was deployed to Somalia for two years and was there during the pirate encounters. His second tour of duty was in Afghanistan, where he was a driver of a large transport vehicle.

Stephen took the time to tell me the reason behind the tattoo on his left arm.

He was driving in a convoy through many hills and ravines in Afghanistan. His vehicle was following in the exact path of the one in front, to reduce the chance of hitting landmines.

As he was getting ready to go down a particular ravine, he had a bad feeling. He turned to his partner who told him he had the same feeling.

Stephen said to his partner, “Hey man, we have to have no regrets.” A few seconds later, a landmine went off directly under Stephen’s seat.

He was shaken up, had a few bruises, but because the vehicle was so heavy and well designed, he and his partner got out relatively unscathed.

So when he got home, he got the tattoo, “No regrets.”

When we arrived at the airport I shook his hand and thanked him for the ride and for sharing his personal story. And of course for serving our country.

I have struggled with the popularity of tattoos and why so many people decorate their bodies with them. But now, thanks to Stephen, I have a new appreciation for why some choose to commemorate a person or event that happened in their life. 

I won’t be getting a tattoo anytime soon, but the saying, “Live your life with no regrets,” has a whole new meaning for me.


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