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Permanent Ink: Tattoo has special meaning for former Shawnee resident

Shawn Linenberger
Shawnee Dispatch

Something close to Milly Lally’s heart now permanently can be found on her lower left leg.

It’s her first tattoo, a Celtic cross she got in September in Kansas City, Mo. Last week, she rolled up her pant leg to proudly display her ink in her room at New Mark Care Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Lally is 83.

And the needle didn’t hurt a bit.

“I wasn’t nervous was I?” Lally asked caretaker Crystal Willson of Crossroads Hospice, which offers services throughout the greater Kansas City area. “I wasn’t the least bit nervous.”

Lally had the opportunity to get the tattoo through the Gift of a Day program, which brings patients’ ideas of the perfect day to life.

Willson said caregivers ask patients what their description of a perfect day would be and use those conversations to help form their Gift of a Day.

Lilly said she didn’t initially remember her tattoo aspirations.

“I don’t know how it came up,” Lally said. “You just know how in conversation words come up and they fly away? You don’t know where the heck they’ve gone.”

But in the end, she’s glad she went through with the tattoo.

Whatever design she picked, Lally said she wanted to make sure the work had significant meaning.

About five years ago, a granddaughter, Stephanie Gray, was killed in an automobile accident.

She was in her teens.

“If you met her, you’d never forget her,” Lally said. “She was that kind of kid.”

Lally always let her grandchildren play with some of her jewelry that she no longer was using. Stephanie always eyed her grandmother’s Celtic necklace, Gladdagh ring, which is an Irish friendship ring, and an aqua necklace.

Lally had planned to one day pass them on to Stephanie.

Instead, she had the Celtic cross placed on her left leg “In honor of and in memory of Stephanie.”

“OK, I’ll do it,” Lally said, recalling her decision. “But it’s gotta have some special meaning behind it.

“My faith is pretty important to me. And it was to Stephanie.”

Willson said she’s received some interesting requests for the Gift of a Day program from Crossroads Hospice patients, but Lally’s so far has been the most unique.

“From heart’s desire to that tattoo,” Lally said with a laugh.

She also proudly proclaimed that she is “100 percent” Irish, which has factored into her various Irish-based jewelry.

Asked whether she needed any Irish whiskey to combat the pain of the needle, Lally said the tattoo really didn’t hurt. Several nurses accompanied Lally, too, and wore temporary tattoos as a show of support. Instead of any bourbon, she enjoyed a Frosty from Wendy’s after getting the tattoo at West Bottoms Art Society Tattoo Parlor in Kansas City, Mo.

A visible scar actually runs down the middle of Lally’s tattoo, an incision from preventative surgery in the 1960s when she had bone cancer.

The tattoo needle was a light tap considering what Lally had been through previously.

She still questions what made her decide on a tattoo.

“If I had been in my right mind. I would have said ‘dinner at Jasper’s. I would like to have lobster tail, please, with just the Caeser salad.’”

On a rainy day last week, though, Lally took a glance at her tattoo.

Her face lit up.

She had made the right choice, she said.

“I’m so glad I got her,” Lally said of her tattoo. “Isn’t she nice? Slick as a whistle.”