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Tattoo in memory of my grandfather


Cold, wet droplets covered my skin. They mixed the hot, salty ones coming from my eyes. I open my mouth to scream, but I can’t hear it.

    The scary part? I can’t wake up.

    I can’t pull myself out of the nightmare. I can’t pull myself out of my bed. I can’t move. All I can do is scream.

   I haven’t had a night terror in a long time. Actually, I haven’t had one since elementary school. It’s sounds like a long time ago, but it’s seems a lot closer when you remember everything vividly.

    Every setting. Every face. Every drop of blood that was shed in those nightmares.

I still remember it all.

My mom dealt with my night terrors for years before my grandparents ever saw one. Actually, when my mom told them, they didn’t believe her.

Until one weekend, I rode home with my grandparents before my mom came up the next day. It was fun. We walked around downtown, drove through the mountains in Calico Rock, Ark., and even went to watch people sing on the square in Mountain View.

Little did they know, they were about to see the fright I felt but couldn’t wake up from.

   It was just another night terror as far as I was concerned. I sat up, screaming, not knowing what I was doing nor being able to wake up from the nightmare in my head. I was on my grandparent’s couch, and my grandma ran in to see what was wrong.

    She finally realized she couldn’t wake me up. She couldn’t do anything but sit with me until I “went back to sleep.”

    I stayed up for at least an hour.

   Night terrors were an average part of my life when I was little. I probably had them up until I was about seven or eight. I honestly don’t remember. I just remember that one day, I quit remembering any dreams and/or nightmares anymore.

I didn’t remember anything.

The one good thing that came out of my night terrors was the connection I made to my grandpa through dreamcatchers. It sounds weird, but my Papa Ted always told me the legends behind my Native American heritage.

From arrowheads to dreamcatchers, he told me it all. He even let me look at the collection his arrowheads he had found, sitting on the bank of a river and checking the shore after the tide lowered.

It fascinated me more than just about anything, and it gave my Papa and me something to talk about.

My grandparents are even the people that gave me my first dreamcatcher. They sent it to me soon after my night terror trip when I was little. Ever since they gave me my first one, I’ve kept one beside my bed at all time.

Now, I have at least fifteen on my wall above my bed.

I have one with me everywhere I go.

My Papa Ted died when I was four years old. It was the same month as my birthday. And I knew it before anyone even told me.

I remember not being able to visit for three days while he was sick. I remember seeing my Grandma Betty standing on the steps of her blue house. And, I remember breaking down into tears before the car was even parked.

My Papa was gone.

I remember a lot more details that I probably should for a four year old, and I remember even more from before he died, which is hard to believe.

I remember crawling into his lap almost every five minutes. I remember playing with the bucket of toys in the living room, which is still there for the great-grandbabies. And, I remember him telling me the difference between nuts and bolts when I crawled into his lap on his work stool in the shed. All of these things happened between the ages of two to four.

I remember a lot. And, I think there’s a reason for that.

My Papa Ted was the greatest person in my life when I was little. No one understood me like he did. No one comforted me like he did. No one did anything like my Papa did. Especially when it came to telling stories, and he had plenty.

My Papa was a Marine. He had three purple hearts from battle.

He hunted. He had fur everywhere, and if you walked into the shed, you saw the records of his accomplishments.

He had a Jeep. One that went down a mountain with broken brakes, with my mom in the passenger seat.

And he was my Papa. Anything that came out of his mouth made me feel better.

My Papa was everything to me. And the fact that he gave me my first dreamcatcher made it special.

They’re still special.

Since my Papa died, I have always connected to him through dreamcatchers. Not like I’m talking to a ghost or actually seeing him in my room. But it brings back my memories.

It’s gotten me through sadness.

It’s gotten me through panic attacks.

And it’s gotten me through tears.

Just about everything that requires comfort or emotional stability involves remembering my Papa by looking at my dreamcatchers.

And now. I will forever have a piece of my Papa Ted with me. Back in November, I got my first tattoo.

Yes, I know.

They’re permanent.

They’re tacky.

They’re stupid.

I don’t care.

I got a tattoo of a dreamcatcher. It goes from the bottom of my bust line to my hip on the left side of my back.

I think it’s beautiful, and it’s there because of my Papa.

I’ve always seen my Papa as the person who comforted me and protected me, and what holds that reputation better than a dreamcatcher? Everything I have ever loved about my Papa can be remember through a dreamcatcher, and I wanted something I would never regret.

Nothing will ever change my feelings about my Papa Ted.


I know some people will think it’s stupid or immature because I’m “young” or because I “don’t know what I’m going to want later on.”

And honestly, the it’s-going-to-look-ugly-when-you-get-older thing is ridiculous. How hot do I really expect to be when I’m eighty-years-old anyway?

So, yes. I have a tattoo. Yes, it is fairly big. No, I don’t regret it. And I never will.

I will forever have a piece of my Papa Ted with me, and that’s what matters to me.

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About the Contributor
Casey Hitchcock, Photographer and Staff Writer
Casey is a senior photographer and a third-year newspaper writer. She is also involved in her youth group, French Club, Green Team, NHS, Mu Alpha Theta, Girl Scouts, Quill & Scroll and takes piano/voice lessons. She enjoys writing, reading, photography, singing, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. She loves her two cats, her two dogs, and her new hedgehog, Little Foot. Casey spends any free time she has doing her massive amounts of AP homework, and she’s so excited about her final year of high school.

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Tattoo in memory of my grandfather