I wanted to do a little follow up on our recent post REMEMBRANCE https://www.writemesomethingbeautiful.com/2019/10/18/the-california-poppy/

First, I want to thank those who ‘showed me the ink!’

This from my niece, Erin:

Jimmy was the inspiration for my “Love” ambigram tattoo – able to be read both by me and others. Jimmy had nothing but love to give others, and I think of him every time I look at it.

And this from Greg, one of the new members of our Fraternity.

Our Nick was nicknamed “Brown Bear” by his fraternity at Cal Poly SLO.  One of his brothers and I both sport a bear tattoo now!  Mom has a hibiscus flower since Hawaii was his favorite place!

I shared the post on the Helping Parents Heal FB page, and the responses were eye popping. Apparently, we weren’t the first to think of this.

As previously reported, several other members of our Fraternity proudly wear tattoos.   At the inaugural meet-up in 2013, the three founding members unveiled their tattoos—all in the handwriting of our kids.

Raf, another brother, has this tattoo in memory of his daughter, Cristina, that he got for her birthday two years after she passed.  He used her signature from a card she had given him on HIS birthday.

Love always, Cristina

A Little More Back Story on My First Tat

As I admitted in our 2013 post Suffering Is the Only Honest Work https://www.writemesomethingbeautiful.com/2014/02/23/suffering-is-the-only-honest-work/ I was pretty much shamed into getting my first tattoo.

Within a few months after we lost Jimmy, his close friend Ali got a tattoo on the inside of her wrist.  One word— Love—that she copied from a card Jimmy had sent her.

Ali holding daughter Vivian born November 5, 2019

Bravo Jimmy! Two years later, Jimmy’s pal and roommate, Steven Tran, sent me a photo of the tattoo he had just gotten in Los Angeles together with this message. 

I hold those words “Bravo Jimmy” close to my heart.  Since the day I heard you say them after the performance of Jimmy’s first play [Leather Clad Chaperone, USC 2005] I was moved.  I remember hearing your proud-dad voice over all the applause.  “Bravo, Jimmy!” It was pure and true, a proud recognition of an extraordinary performance.  And I agreed.

The next time I heard you say those words was at the end of Jimmy’s memorial service at UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium.  That moment when you stood up and shouted “Bravo, Jimmy!” and brought everyone to their feet in a standing ovation, will never leave my memory.  I thought of it as one of the most beautiful and yet saddest moments in my life.  It was fitting and so perfect.   It was pure and true, a proud recognition of an extraordinary performance. 

It was around this time I had some t-shirts made with Suffering Is the Only Honest Work, Jimmy stenciled on the back.  The words are in Jimmy’s handwriting and copied from the poem Jimmy had given to his friend and mentor, Tom Strickler, soon after they ran the 2007 Los Angeles Marathon.  

I added “898” Jimmy’s Angel Date. That was also our telephone number in Itasca. Three digits in those days.

I gave the shirts out to family, my work-out rats and, of course, to Tom and many of Jimmy’s other friends.  At the time, I was pretty proud of myself for taking this bold step.

Ali sporting a Jimmy T as she runs the Williamsburg Bridge in NYC
TPHS 2013 Jimmy Winners (Maya is 3rd from left)

Then in June 2013, Hilary and I attended awards night at Torrey Pines High School.   Maya, one of the recipients that year of the James Tedrow Gauntt Memorial Scholarship, mentioned in a thank-you note to us how inspired she and the other theatre students were by the tattoo department head, Marinee Payne, wears on her forearm.   Doubt Is A Bad Idea. JTG   A line from Jimmy’s Suffering poem.   What?!

We immediately reached out to Marinee and she explained.

We made a poster of this phrase soon after Jimmy died…we put it everywhere around the school.  It sparked many teaching moments and provided a foundation for artistic courage. It also gave me an opportunity to speak of my love, admiration and the legacy of Jimmy. In 2009 I went through a “life challenge.”  I consistently would find myself echoing Jimmy’s words.  

They are important enough I thought to carry them with me.  These words serve me well, but most important they reach hundreds of students each year.  Jimmy teaches beside me.

I had forgotten Marinee’s daughter, Taylor, was one of the first recipients of a Jimmy Scholarship in 2009. Marinee also shared this sage observation of the power of tats.

As is with so much of personally motivated body Art, it will begin conversations and plant seeds that will grow and flourish. To me it is a manifestation of a “random act of kindness” as a new point of view is shuffled into the thought process of perhaps a total stranger.

That was the last straw!  Marinee pushed me over the edge.  I needed to do better than a measly T-Shirt! It was time to man up.

A few weeks later Hilary and I met with Dave Hartman at Big Fish Tattoo in Solana Beach, explained what I wanted and made an appointment for August 8.   Grandson Hunter and I unveiled the fresh tat the next day—Jimmy’s 5th Angel Date.

“That’s not real!”

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Next up–the much anticipated back story on the cover of our book.

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Author Bios

Write Me Something Beautiful Authors - Casey and Jimmy Gauntt

Casey Gauntt

is a retired attorney and former senior executive of a major San Diego real estate company. He lives in Solana Beach, California, with his wife, Hilary. Casey grew up in Itasca, Illinois, graduated Lake Park High School in 1968, and received B.S., JD and MBA degrees from the University of Southern California.

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Jimmy Gauntt

was born and raised in Solana Beach and graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 2002.   A prestigious Trustee Scholar at the University of Southern California, he majored in English and Spanish. He authored six plays, five screenplays, and a multitude of poems and short stories. Beginning in 2010, the USC English Department annually bestows the Jimmy Gauntt Memorial Award—aka “The Jimmy”—to the top graduates in English.  Jimmy passed over to the other side in 2008 at age 24.

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