It’s not every day that one hits a milestone half a century in the making. That would be me, actually, who has evolved and survived some fifty plus years on this planet. “An event of this magnitude warrants something big,” I thought at the time, “something unexpected, memorable. Yes, this calls for nothing less than a tattoo!” Don’t laugh. It’s quite common you know. Middle-aged people add a tat or two to commemorate a well-lived life. Besides, it was on my bucket list.

Of course, my first and only tattoo could not be merely common, like a butterfly or a flower. This was fifty years we were talking about. So I did what anyone who wants to find a meaningful symbol to etch permanently into one’s flesh would do. I googled it. I already knew that I wanted something that reflected my faith with a Celtic flare. And I wanted a verse to go with it, in Latin. Mind you, I knew nothing about Latin except for a few words derived from Latin roots. But I was determined and inspired.

It didn’t take long to find the perfect verse. “Alis Volat Propriis!” or as it is translated in English, “She flies with her own wings!” I am reminded of a quote by the late, great president, Abraham Lincoln, “The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” But then, I digress. I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

I went to work creating a beautiful tattoo sketch. I found the perfect Celtic knot triangle embellished with ivy for the art. Then I printed a word of the verse on each side. “Alis…Volat…Propiis”.

To my great delight and surprise, three of my daughters managed to make it to my door from two states away just in time to celebrate the big 5-0 with me, as well as accompany me to the tattoo shop, just in case I was having second thoughts. I wasn’t. I was ready to present my flesh as a canvas and to commemorate my mid-life Croning, as it were, in a big way.

If you have never gotten a tattoo, you should know, it hurts. There’s no way around it. The droning precision of the needle as it pulses, depositing ink, black and green, deep into layers of flesh hurts like hell. But with good company for moral support and music playing in the background…heavy, loud music… the hour or so goes by pretty quickly.

I loved my new tattoo. I still do, even though a few years later I discovered my worst nightmare…a misspelled word! I hate typos. This typo was etched permanently on my left shoulder blade. “Alis Volat Propiis.” “Where was the “R”? There is supposed to be an “R” after the second P? How did I miss it? Every source I consulted online spelled the phrase without the “R”!”

And that was the problem. It seems that there are quite a few folks wandering around with this misspelled disaster branded into their skin. The State of Oregon even listed it as a viable “Latin Motto Version”. But, ultimately, it was a typo! One that I had spent weeks researching and perfecting with my photo design program. One that I had suffered through hours of grueling, dull, excruciating pain to receive.

It could have been my undoing you know, having to live with this embarrassing secret hidden under my clothes. But I have grown attached to my beautiful flawed tattoo because it reminds me of me. It was, in fact, the perfect way to commemorate my crazy, roller coaster first 50 years.

This year I will celebrate my 60th year. I have lived ten more years filled the joys and sorrows that are part of every life. I thought about getting another tattoo. But I can’t decide what it should be or say. I’ve tossed this verse around…tell me what you think… “Just Breath”. I am kidding you know. Maybe I’ll just stick with butterflies.

kat ~ 25 January 2016
(675 Words – Non-Fiction)

Yes…this really happened…and yes, I still love it, flawed and all! 


This story is in response to RonovanWrites Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. If you would like to read other stories or add your own, click HERE.


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