GOLDEN GIRL
Reader's Digest US|October 2021
My mom’s 80th-birthday tattoo is just the latest example of her wild newfound independence
Mark Angus Hamlin

When your mother enters her ninth decade, you make a point of being a little extra vigilant for any signs of decline—memory loss, bouts of repetition, a general acceleration of age-related deterioration.

Thankfully, my mother has been blessed with good health, and her mental faculties seem to have remained largely intact. But when she got inked after turning 80 last September, I had to wonder.

To celebrate Mom’s landmark birthday, we were planning a large party—but then, of course, everything had to be canceled because of COVID-19. After all, her entire social circle is high risk, composed as it is of septuagenarian and octogenarian friends from her book (wine) club, her garden (wine) club, and her church.

Instead, we arranged an outdoor family lunch at our lake house in Quebec.

My mother looks just like many grandmothers. She is short, plump, and white-haired. She’s rosy-cheeked and jolly, and when she laughs her eyes almost seem to disappear behind those chubby cheeks. She comes from an old, traditional Catholic family. She was a career civil servant. In short, she didn’t do crazy stuff.

That all changed a few years ago. She began to surprise my older brother and me with bouts of what she described as “independence.” At the time, we merely saw them as examples of irresponsibility and possibly age-related questionable judgment.

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