In A Pickle  

Some draw a line when it comes to tattoos

'Inking' dilemma

“Does it come off?” my mother asked in a panic.

She licked her forefinger and vigorously scrubbed my tattoo with it. As a child, I remembered her doing that with dirty spots on my face and the rancid smell of her saliva that was left behind on my skin.

“No, Mom, it's real,” I replied. While I was looking over my shoulder at my sister Sheilagh, I noticed she was smirking, making it hard not to laugh.

People get “inked” for various reasons and tattoos aren’t as taboo as they once were, being only for criminals, soldiers and sailors. However, my mom wasn’t buying it.

“What possessed you to do it?” My mom shrieked.

“It’s my insurance policy,” I answered.

My ex said if I got a tattoo, he’d never want to be with me again. I thought, "Perfect, that’s my ticket to freedom!”

Marc was upset five years earlier, when I had my nose pierced. I was coming into my own and he didn't like it one bit. His tyrannical rule over my life and body ended. My weapon of choice was a sparkling plastic jewel. Through it, I reclaimed myself.

The ink job, however, I did after I left him. A few months earlier, I’d photographed a Swallowtail butterfly as it flitted about in our front yard and landed in a bush. In many cultures, it is believed this butterfly species represents grace and freedom of the indescribable human soul, and symbolizes a new start. I didn't realize I was on the verge of change.

My subject’s torn wing reminded me of a war wound,and I wondered if it escaped the clutches of a predator or fought its way out of the cocoon and had a chunk ripped off. I felt a kinship with the gentle but beautifully flawed insect.

I got my second tattoo on my honeymoon in Seattle. That one I covered up a large nasty surgical scar with a variety of colourful butterflies on a vine. They transformed the site of my scar from being repulsive to a work of art.

However, not all tattoos are lovely, nor even chosen.

The tattooing of human trafficking victims has been performed for a millennium. Slave traders carve a series of numbers onto the foreheads of their prey, which both dehumanize and traumatize them. The ugly mark is a way to prevent escape, as they’re quickly spotted.

In the rare event that rescuers free a captive nowadays, a pretty tattoo is often gifted to those unfortunates to hide the ugliness of past horrors. It is a healing modality for them.

There is a plethora of reasons people “ink,” including immortalizing a loved one or a pet on their bodies.

My co-worker has a dolphin tattoo in tribute to her late mother, her “bff,” who collected them for decades. The elderly woman died in a fire and along with it, all her memorabilia were lost. My co-worker finds solace in the leaping marine mammals on her forearm and resolved to start collecting them, like her mom did.

Conversely, tattoo regret happens when a tattoo is botched, or the person is remorseful for getting one. Laser treatment can remove the many layers of ink, but can leave behind an outline of the former imprint (a ghost image). The procedure is expensive, time consuming and painful. Sometimes the site of the former tattoo can become infected, just like when it was initially carved into the skin and it may disfigure.

Some people claim tattoos are a portal to the demonic.

The Bible warns against tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 (Amplified), which says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”

I got my tattoos in ignorance, as I didn’t know better. Since then I’ve had horrific nightmares.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.

However, when Jesus returns, he'll give me a glorified and perfect body made of light, being ink and wrinkle free,” says 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (New International Version)


This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Making peace with the past

Complicated relationships

The frail elderly woman trembled with excitement and asked, “Are you here to see me?”

Her hands quivered as she reached out. Sarah gently took her bony little hands in her own.

“Yes, Mom, do you know my name?” There was no response, but when Sarah told her “I’m your baby hellion!” she giggled and replied, “Oh Sarah, is it really you?”

Hellion was an understatement, Sarah reminisced. As the youngest of eight children, she sported a fiery temper and a foul mouth. She didn’t learn profanity from her mom, but got a kick out of her today. Her mother would say something and add the expletive “shit” to it, and then would cackle and cover her lips with her fingers. “I said a bad word, didn’t I?” she chortled. “You have a potty mouth”, Sarah told her, pretending to be shocked.

Her mother had dementia for a decade now. In this state, she was happy-go-lucky, and entertained herself in the nursing home. She suddenly burst into song, “Ka Ka Ka Katy, my beautiful da-darling, you’re the only ga-ga-ga-girl that I adore.” Sarah erupted into a chorus with the next stanza, and they both laughed. Sarah's husband Brent appeared uncomfortable, and her mom noticed and commented that he looked as though he was ready to bolt. Sarah played the clown and ran on the spot.

Brent, meanwhile, had an epiphany regarding their similarities. Sarah also noticed their mother-daughter traits, such as her devious snicker when she said something politically incorrect, unfiltered, or scandalous. Sarah suffered from foot-in-mouth syndrome too.

However, there was a dark side to her parent which Sarah remembered all too well. She was her mom’s scape-goat, the child whom she took out all her frustrations on. When Sarah and her sister Maureen got into fights, their mommy would grab a weapon and use it on Sarah alone. Maureen could do no wrong, and Mom always asked why Sarah couldn’t be more like Maureen. Their mom once armed herself with an outdoor extension cord and whipped Sarah with the metal prong end, leaving large welts on the youngster’s legs. She found it hard to walk for days.

Another intrusive flashback came to mind when she pinned Sarah to the ground and cut her fingernails. “Declawing the cat,” she’d bellowed. By cutting her nails, she left Sarah, a tiny eight-year-old girl defenseless against her inebriated teenage brothers. Sarah felt humiliated and undeserving of her mother's care.

Tears poured down her cheeks like rain while she spoke of this.

They had a tumultuous relationship, forever at war with each other. Sarah had her side of the story, while her mother had her own and would gaslight the kid.

Sarah could’ve gotten along better had she toed the line, but she didn’t understand her mother’s system, didn’t like her ways, and refused to comply. She crossed that blurred and nonsensical line that often shifted was distorted, and mostly invisible. It was as though her mom drew it in the sand, and in a windstorm of drama inevitably blew the mark away.

For years, Sarah was enraged, sought retribution, and eventually morphed into her mother.

Confucius said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” It took a long time for Sarah to learn that and stop retaliating. Proverbs 23:22 reads: Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. That Bible verse spoke volumes, and Sarah repented in 2008. Shortly thereafter, Sarah sought her mother out after years of no contact.

Sarah showed up at her care facility and when her parent opened the door, it looked as though she’d seen a ghost. Gingerly, Sarah requested to come in and asked for her mother’s forgiveness, and they verbally forgave each other.

A sense of peace, love, and sadness washed over Sarah as she visited her aged momma in 2020. She couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the last time she’d see her. Sarah gave her a kiss on the forehead and her Mom grabbed her face and kissed her cheek. As she clenched Sarah's hand, she said, “Good bye dear, it was nice seeing you.” “Good bye Mom, it was good to see you too.” Sarah walked out the door and down the long hallway with a lump in her throat.

Sarah reconciled herself with the past, with one foot in front of the other, one breath at a time, and one memory at a time, choosing to cling to and cherish this wonderful visit instead of the past.

Her mother passed away in 2021 with her golden child, Maureen by her side.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Holding a second vigil for Austyn Godfrey

Remembering Austyn

A gut-wrenching email from Austyn Godfrey’s mother Michelle spurred me to hold a second vigil on the first anniversary of Austyn’s death.

Michelle still doesn’t know how her daughter died. What she knows is Austyn didn’t end up in the Glenmore dog park on her own (She did not drive.) Michelle was adamant her daughter didn’t do it to herself either.

Austyn’s elusive autopsy report is something Michelle hasn’t been able to get her hands on, leaving the woman in agony. It haunts her to know her daughter’s remains were discovered abandoned, or discarded, in a parking lot under the cover of night.

Living more than 4,000 kilometres away, Michelle is left out of the loop, and she’s totally gutted by her never-ending grief. She has little strength remaining.

As a mother myself, I didn’t want Austyn to be remembered as just a body found in a remote area outside city limits. She was a vibrant, beautiful young woman with much charisma and potential, adored by her family and friends.

I met her buddies at the first vigil at Evangel Church last year, but this time I held the service in the courtyard of the Kelowna Law Courts.

It made me feel safer having the venue there. Her killer is still on the loose. Austyn named a man on her social media accounts whom she considered harmful to her just days before her death. With that in mind, I determined that any sketchy person would think twice before coming around, especially if they had a warrant out for their arrest.

The second vigil was completely different from the first. Instead of her young friends present, an older generation of strangers attended. They were mostly from my denomination, along with Charnie, a former drinking buddy of mine from back in the day.

Charnie and I went from bar hopping to a Bible study together a few decades later. We had a second chance, Austyn did not.

The attendees from my church family were elderly and led lives on the straight and narrow, unlike me. They weren’t judgmental. Compassion motivated them and they wanted to pay their respects.

A couple of strangers wandered over, having heard about it on the radio. None of us knew Austyn, but we were all deeply disturbed by her appalling death. We hoped to show Austyn’s family Kelowna’s residents cared.

One man stood out. His presence was unnerving until I noticed his face was contorted with tears streaming from his eyes. It was Austyn’s uncle Jason from Alberta.

He was clearly heartbroken. We texted a few times but we had never met. Jason held up a cell phone to record the event, and unbeknownst to me, Michelle was watching via FaceTime.

After I quoted some startling statistics on femicide in Canada, I read a poem I wrote about Michelle and Austyn. It described how they quarrelled the last time they were together. Michelle tried to protect Austyn from a group of shady looking new companions her daughter brought home. Sadly, Austyn didn’t pay heed and soon thereafter came out West. Mother and daughter wouldn't see each other again.

Assistant Pastor Arturo Gonzalez of the Rutland Adventist church spoke after me. He shared that violence against women is on the rise. God’s way is the only way to stop such tragedies, he said. The minister prayed for comfort for the family, and for those responsible to be held accountable.

He implored that they would repent for their actions. Afterwards, both he and I gave Jason a reassuring hug.

Later, when a reporter asked how I felt about her friends not showing up at the vigil, I recalled how messed up they were over Austyn’s death. Perhaps they couldn’t bring themselves to attend a second time.

I learned later that a few of them also passed away the same year, from a drug overdoses.

In October 2022 in B.C., there was an average of nearly six deaths per day from illicit narcotics. The age range of the victims as between 30 to 79, with 70% being males.

Whether drugs played a direct part in Austyn’s death, I don’t know. She may have lived a high-risk lifestyle, and may or may not have been trafficked.

According to her relative, a woman known as K.C. believed Austyn was using some kind of street drug and one of Austyn's friends, Lilyanna Arient, said Austyn got caught up in something she didn’t deserve, according to one media report.

While Austyn suffers no more, her mother Michelle certainly does, and in the most horrific way.

She told me on our FaceTime chat, “I wouldn’t wish this kind of pain on anyone.”

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

December 25 a common birthday for deities

Birthday boy deities

Ten deities share Dec. 25 as their birth date. The list of gods is as follows;

  1. Apollo - Greek god of the sun. He was said to be a healer, producer of medicine, and a musician.
  2. Attis - The god of vegetation had a thing for self-mutilation and castration. He was supposedly born of a virgin and rose again after three days dead in a grave.
  3. Bacchus - AKA Dionysus, (son of Zeus), was called the god of agriculture, wine and fertility. They likewise knew him as a conqueror, wanderer, and founder of cities. He drank a lot of fermented grape juice.
  4. Helios - A sun god who drove chariots across the sky. He was a titan, enormous and powerful. He brought light to the earth daily.
  5. Hercules - A slayer of mythical monsters and rescuing damsels in distress. However, he was kinky, with a girdle fetish. Hercules, the naughty celestial being, stole the garments from the Amazons. It is unclear if the warrior women were wearing them, but he probably did them a favour by removing the wretched underwear. They could breathe much easier now.
  6. Horus - He was a falcon headed dude and monarch of Egypt, son of god, guardian of places, persons and lineages.
  7. Jupiter - Touted as ruler of the gods, he was a Roman pantheon, shining father, god of light and sun, protector of the state and laws. He was sired by Saturn, and a brother of Neptune.
  8. Mithras - Was of Persian descent and of angelic divinity. He was a covenant maker and carried out secret ritual oaths.
  9. Nimrod - Was a person mentioned in the Bible. Great- grandson of Noah, Nimrod was a tyrant, opposed Yahweh, hunter of men, ruthless, vile and filthy. He took whatever woman he pleased. His descendants built the tower of Babel. They worshipped him as Baal, the primary enemy of Hebrew God Yahweh. Baal demanded child sacrifice, and they burned babies alive in his statue. His worshippers also considered prostitution sacred, along with sex cults.
  10. Jesus - The last but not least. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He’s the one triune God. He was born of a virgin and is both human and divine.

Why was Jesus thrown into this mix with these other so-called gods sharing the same birthday? The rationale was that by adding him to the list, the masses would widely accept him.

Also there was much money to be had.

His correct birth date is unknown, according to the website, Jesus was born in September or early October, while the shepherds were tending sheep in the fields. December is marked by heavy rains, which is not conductive to letting livestock out to pasture. He was born in a barn because there was no room in nearby inns.

He, the King of the Universe, was delivered in a humble stable instead of a palace in order to save humanity some 33 years later.

While alive, he performed many miracles, which were documented in the old and new testaments, but also in other historical records. Jewish historian and military leader Flavius Josephus was born four years after Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion and wrote about Him.

Of all the dubious deities listed, number 10 is the one that stands out as honourable, heroic and omnipotent.

We’ve globally celebrated Jesus’ birth on Dec, 25 since the 12th century.

Although his correct DOB is unidentified, his reputation speaks for itself. Jesus was not a lavish pharaoh that needed human acknowledgement, and that is probably why the date was omitted. He came into the world to serve, not to be served and gave his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28; And even while we were still enemies. Romans 5:10.

Is that not infinitely better than what the first nine were all about?

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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