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grandparents, tattoos, tattoos on tiktok

Emily McNeill on TikTok

Emily McNeill, a content creator in Ireland, had a brilliant idea for keeping the memory of her four cherished grandparents with her forever: with a tattoo.

Not just any tattoo, either. This one would be designed by the grandparents themselves. All four of them. They just wouldn’t know it.

McNeill posted a video on TikTok with the caption: “my grandparents designed my tattoo without them knowing.” Under the caption is McNeill’s bejeweled hand holding some pencils and a notepad that says “draw a flower.”

The grandparents obliged, each making a simple, rudimentary doodle. And next thing you know, those notepad doodles are seen at a tattoo shop, being inked into McNeill's arm. And the result is quite lovely. The four unique, individual flowers put together to make a complex “bouquet” is in itself a touching metaphor for a grandparent’s relationship to their grandchildren.


@emilymcneill My grandparents designed my tattoo (without even knowing 🤫) #tattoo#grandparents#wholesome#belfast#irish♬ Send Me on My Way - Guy Meets Girl

Kat Von D—a veritable queen of the tattoo world—once said, “I am a canvas of my experiences, my story is etched in lines and shading, and you can read it on my arms, my legs, my shoulders, and my stomach.” Many people help shape our stories and add to the canvas of our experiences. Grandparents included. What a wonderful way to acknowledge their contribution.

McNeill's video went viral, racking up nearly 900,000 likes. Even non-tattoo enthusiasts were charmed.

One user wrote “I HATE tattoos but this is absolutely adorable. Imagine when they’re gone how lovely it will be. What a great idea.”

The collaborative art piece struck a nostalgic chord in some, who shared missing their own grandparents. Many were wishing the idea struck them when they had the chance.

One person wrote “I’m going straight to my nan and grandad’s tomorrow with a pen and paper!”

People were so in love with the adorable artwork (and loving tribute) that they asked McNeill to post her grandparents' reactions. McNeill delivered.

@emilymcneill Reply to @khard95 MY GRANDPARENTS REACTION 🤍 (to a tattoo they designed without knowing 🤫) thank you all so much for the love. #grandparents#tattoo#tattooreaction#irish♬ original sound - Emily Mc Neill

In her follow-up video, McNeill asks her nan and grandad, “do you know why I asked you to draw the flower?”

The grandparents shake their heads, and then she reveals not only the tattoo, but the video that received millions of views on TikTok. Their candid, wholesome reactions are made that much better with delightful Irish accents. My personal favorite belongs to the grandad in the red chair, who simply says “bloody hell.” Although the sweet blond grandmother lamenting that her flower looks more like a starfish is pretty great too.

The consensus was unanimous in the comments: McNeill came up with a truly precious idea (not to mention a completely harmless prank). Picking a tattoo is no easy feat, but this one will be timeless in all the right ways.

The TikTok video ends with each grandparent proudly pointing to their own flower tattoo creations, and photos for yet another cemented memory.

McNeill told her family that the tattoo was “so that I’ll always have a wee bit of you with me.” She got her wish, and those that have seen her video have a little inspiration for honoring their grandparents as well.

We can’t keep our loved ones forever, but we can find creative ways to hold onto the beloved memories they leave behind.

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