Keeping family ink alive

Carl's portrait tattoo of his son Lewis by Mark Gibson at Monki Do Tattoo.

Carl’s portrait tattoo of his son Lewis by Mark Gibson at Monki Do Tattoo.

Carl Lowe is from a small town called Belper, located just a few miles outside Derby in the heart of the UK. He’s endured the loss of his son, Lewis Lowe, and now one year later, seeks solace at Monki do tattoo by having Mark Gibson ink his late son’s wolf tattoo on his (Carl’s) back. This wolf is soon to be the center of a full memorial back piece. Carl talks a little bit about the tattoo and why it’s important to him. Still, what better way to memorialize a loved one than to revive their ink on living skin.

From Carl Lowe:

“My son Lewis awoke one day when he was 13 years old to find he couldn’t walk. Over the next two years, Lewis underwent every test imaginable to find the cause, but the doctors were perplexed. Lewis lost weight rapidly and ended up in the hospital for the better part of a year while the doctors scrambled to find the cause of his condition.

Despite their efforts, Lewis slipped into a coma, kept alive only by life support in the intensive care unit for nearly two months. During this time, he died once for several minutes, but by a miracle, the doctors revived him. Two days later, they called us, his family, and stated Lewis only had a ten percent chance of making it through the night.

Lewis's tattoo of a wolf, later revived by his Dad, Carl. By Mark Gibson of Monki Do Tattoo.

Lewis’s tattoo of a wolf, later revived by his Dad, Carl. By Mark Gibson of Monki Do Tattoo.

Lewis’ girlfriend, Sarah, sat at his bedside and held his hand, whispering into his ear, “You have got to pull through. I want to marry you.” Lewis made it through the next 12 hours and was put on a drug called Anakinra, which was still a test drug at the time. They slowly took Lewis off the lift support and kidney machines.

He continued to improve with the aid of the drug, but it was obvious from then on he had to have it every day to stay alive. He recovered enough to come home. He put weight back on and started to walk again. When he turned 18, he was looking forward to his first tattoo, as Mark Gibson had told him three years earlier,  “Keep away from your mates with tattoo guns! I will be waiting to do yours.” He kept his word and tattooed the wolf on Lewis’ upper arm.

Lewis was doing really well and wanted to go to Scotland to spend time with Sarah and her family. While there, on the 4th of May 2012, he was walking along the cliffs. They gave way and Lewis fell to his death. Yes I know, you sit there saying to yourself, “You must be joking!” This is the reaction I get whenever I tell the story.

Mark has been a good friend for several years, not only to Lewis, but also myself.   He is my tattooist and I have set Mark to the task of doing a full back piece in my son’s memory of the wolf (just like the one tattooed on Lewis’ upper arm) with the rebel flag in the background. Lewis loved the band Lynyrd Skynyd. They were his favorite band and he even met them backstage while he was ill. This tattoo represents my son and his love for the band.”

The beginnings of Carl's full back tattoo, representing the wolf previously tattooed on Lewis's arm.

The beginnings of Carl’s full back tattoo, representing the wolf previously tattooed on Lewis’s arm.

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