By Rebecca Sewald
Of all the things John Colenda aspired to do with his life, getting a tattoo was never one of them. But in early April, the 40-year-old Perryville resident found himself seated in a chair at House of Ponchos in Abingdon, Md., where he would leave later that day with his first tattoo.
The artistic design that now encompasses Colenda’s right shoulder is more than just a tattoo. It’s a memorial to his son, Jack, who passed away suddenly last November from health complications after he developed Lyme disease.
“A tattoo is not something I thought I would ever get, but under the circumstances, I decided I would do it, and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out,” Colenda said.
While pondering the design, Colenda knew he wanted it to be something that nobody else would have.
His concept for the tattoo centered on his 8-year-old son’s passion for lacrosse: “He played football and lacrosse, but he could never wait for lacrosse to start. As soon as football was over, he had his stick ready to go.”
Colenda gave the tattoo artist, Josh Johnson, a picture of his son’s lacrosse stick, shoes, helmet and gloves, which were incorporated into the design.
“He even got Jack’s name in there where he wrote his name on his gloves,” Colenda said, pointing to the tiny letters that did indeed spell out “Jack.”
But Colenda wanted his tattoo to feature more than just his son’s lacrosse equipment.
“I thought it needed some kind of background,” he said. “At Patterson’s funeral home, they took his thumbprint because there are suppliers out there that can make jewelry with your thumbprint on it, and it just clicked – that was the background I needed.”
Colenda contacted the funeral home and had a staff member send him an electronic image of his son’s thumbprint. He printed the image and gave it to Johnson, who was able to sketch the print and include it in the tattoo’s design.
“This is a memorial that I can keep with me all the time,” Colenda said.
In addition to getting a tattoo, Colenda has been busy working on another project in honor of his son. He and his wife, Jennifer, are in the process of starting a foundation in jack’s name that will benefit local children in need. The unofficially named JACK Foundation will stand for Just About Community and Kids, Colenda said, going on to explain that he is in the process of filing paperwork to have the name approved.