Unique blend of Christian imagery and personal symbolism celebrates father


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Topper Tats showcases the most interesting tattoos students are sporting around the Hilltop. 

John Paradise is a sophomore at St. Edward’s University who is originally from Akron, Ohio. He was only three years old when his father went on a bike ride and got hit by a pickup truck.

This nearly-fatal accident left Paradise’s father with a cracked skull, an aneurysm and a serious brain injury. The left side of the brain was affected most, changing the personality of his father and even inhibiting his ability to drive. Paradise’s father was now having to be taken care of by his wife, who eventually left him, and he was not able to continue his job at IBM. His life had drastically changed within minutes.

Despite the difficult situation Paradise’s father had to face, he never gave up on life or himself. He surprised doctors with the ability to walk again long before he was expected to and was once again able to carry a career.

One year ago, Paradise decided to get an arm piece tattoo to commemorate the strength of his father. This tattoo features his father in a kneeling position with his head looking up to the skies on a rainy day. Behind him lies the broken bicycle he rode on that day and the sign of the street where he was hit. Above him is a mighty saint, representative of the Saint Christopher on the chains Paradise and his father have always worn. Intertwined with Saint Christopher is a sapling of a larkspur flower becoming wilted. The larkspur is the flower of July, which was the month of the accident. The stages of the larkspur flower from sapling to wilted represent the cycle of life. Underneath Paradise’s father is a ribbon that says “Now Build.” This phrase reminds Paradise that no matter what situation you are in, you are always capable of building up your life into something great.

This tattoo was drawn up by Paradise himself and an artist at Lady Bird Tattoo helped tweak it to his liking. It is permanently there to remind him that he can surmount any obstacle that will be thrown in his path. It also helps him remember to always love and cherish his father for all he has been through. This tattoo has helped Paradise get closure over the hardships he and his family have endured.