25 Apr When You Get To Draw On Your Friend
Full disclosure: I put this blog out last Monday, but then Jim got a phone call from the cancer clinic to come in for a special visit. That threw Jim (and us) for a loop so we didn’t promote or tell anyone about the blog because there were bigger things to deal with. But then Jim went to the visit and his fears were much larger than what they had to say, (you can read about it in his blog) and that made him (and us) feel a lot better. So now it feels like a goofy tattoo all over Jim’s back is what it should be – funny. So here’s the story:
Ok – Jim’s Bucket List – THE TATTOO.
First of all, I know what you’re asking.
- Will a huge tattoo in Sharpie last through a sweaty show? and…
- Will a huge tattoo in Sharpie smear all over your bedsheets while you sleep?
Yes… and yes.
We’ve been doing this “thing” every show this year with my sidekick on stage Jim Button.
Last April, I got a call from Jim telling me that he had just come back from the docs and they told him that although they hoped removing one of his kidneys would stop his cancer – that it had returned with a vengeance, and told him the window was short. Real short. Like a year. Ughhh.
I asked if he still wanted to be my sidekick on stage for the 2017/18 DKL season. He said “absolutely.”
So he is. And we came up with a plan. A plan that would acknowledge his fight in a way that wasn’t giving the disease too much credit but at the same time recognizing and supporting Jim’s battle. (You can read about his journey on his amazing blog, Gather With Jim. )
And mostly – to make Jim and his wife Tracey laugh.
So we came up with an idea where I’d pull an item from Jim’s Bucket List, and every show we’d make one of his dreams come true. The truth being it’s not really his Bucket List, and what we really do is find some way of embarrassing Jim and laughing WITH him at the same time. So far this season, we’d done a lot of music type of things… made him sing, made him dance, made him play the kazoo. In an elf outfit. With an orchestra.
So for the April show we decided it would be hilarious to give him a tattoo on stage. For health and timing reasons doing an actual tattoo wasn’t going to work, but his doctors did clear us to do a Sharpie tattoo. Awesome. Visual artist Mandy Stobo does our live art for the show and she is the Sharpie Queen.
So Mandy and I sat down and talked about what would be fun and funny. We decided the tattoo should be a tribute to his amazing and long suffering wife Tracey and we decided that it had to be huge. We settled on a massive anchor on his back.
The challenge was that Mandy had never actually done a tattoo, much less a massive back tattoo.
She needed to practice. “Do you know anyone who needs a Sharpie Back Tattoo?”
Who wants to walk around with that? What reason would they have for wanting something that massive all over their back?
And as we were texting back and forth I realized it was April. And April is a year since the doctor’s meeting with Jim. Where they told him he had a short window. Short, like a year.
And although some days are hard, Jim is still very much alive.
And then Mandy said, “What if we just did your back, but Jim didn’t know it until his was done.”
Suddenly we had a really good reason to have something all over my back.
So that’s what we did.
We found a shirt that I could wear for the show – that we could cut the back out of. And then, downstairs, long before Jim was there, Mandy practiced on my back. A massive Anchor tattoo with “Jimmy” on it. Mandy took the picture when we were done.
Then I got dressed in my ventilated shirt, put on my jacket – and went and did the show.
And for much of the show, I was aware that I had no back on my shirt and that I was sweating and really really hoping that I wasn’t making the tattoo run.
But then the time came. We sent him off with Mandy to get his tattoo while we played a game onstage with our guests Sheldon Kennedy, Susan Gilmour and Kris Demeanor.
Then, when he returned to the music of house band for the night, The Flat Whites – with a tattoo that was WAY too big and definitely ridiculous – everyone clapped, everyone laughed.
And then I told the story of the phone call. From a year ago.
And I took off my jacket and showed my cut out shirt and my matching back tattoo.
And we all laughed and clapped.
I had a hard time talking right then – but I wanted to say this:
If we could have, we would have tattooed the entire cast, crew and audience that night. Your good friend Mandy Stobo was up to draw on everyone. But we knew it would take too long, even though many people would have jumped at the chance. That’s why your friend Dave Pierce ran up after the show to get his done.
We all realize life is a solo ride sometimes, but – we wanted you to know as much as we can, we are all with you. With you and Tracey and your family.
Because we love you, we love your fire for life. And we are glad you blew by the year.
We’re so glad.
Oh, and sorry about your bed sheets. Kinda.
Here’s the video.