Alexis McCarthy, a 20-year-old from Richland, New Jersey, wanted a tattoo in memory of her grandfather. Their very special relationship was something unforgettable, but unfortunately cut short, when he passed away when she was in the 6th grade.
McCarthy remembers the times when they would both sit down in front of a piano and play “When You Wish Upon a Star.” She would sit there captivated as she watched his fingers slowly moving across the keys. Each time he played, she was mesmerized like a child learning something for the first time. The song would become a bond forever between the two of them.
McCarthy was on a family trip to Florida, visiting family when she got the awful news. Her grandfather, who was only 51 years old, collapsed. What they discovered from the fall was even worse. Richard L. Stapleton was diagnosed on that day with lung cancer, so severe that the doctors didn’t give him much time to live.
Just days before that phone call, McCarthy bought her grandfather a snow globe. Mickey Mouse smiled at her through the glass bubble and as she spun the knob at the bottom of the globe, cranking it until it wouldn’t turn anymore, “When You Wish Upon A Star” would be the song she heard.
The drive home seemed longer than usual. She knew once they got back to New Jersey, that instead of a joyful reunion with her grandfather, it would be a final goodbye. On their journey back, even more heartbreak struck. The globe that she couldn’t wait to give to her grandfather shattered.
“It’s something that, in my young mind, just hurt me so badly that I was never able to give that to him…” Alexis McCarthy
McCarthy’s grandfather passed away on March 12, 2006. Her tattoo was meant to represent her love for her grandfather and bring her closure. She didn’t want it in the generic “RIP” kind of way; she wanted something unique. What she got was far from that, and her heartbreak just kept building. The finished product represented an unskilled “artist” who was later fired for “basically just not having the talent that is needed to work in the industry,” according to McCarthy.
McCarthy was to be married on Jan. 9, 2015, but she knew that she wanted her tattoo to look elegant before she tied the knot. She then turned to an artist she trusted, Brian Bocker, who did three of her previous tattoos. The transformation was exactly what she needed.
“Three to four hours of hard work and it helped me feel better about a potential life-time of feeling like my memorial to my grandfather was sub-par.” Alexis McCarthy
“I do plan on getting another tattoo in dedication of my grandpop, and I know it will better represent the beautiful memories that him and I had during his life-time, but for now, the one that I have is a great cover-up of an unfortunate mistake.” Alexis McCarthy
Tattoo Website: Exotic Body Works
Artist: Brian Bocker