Tattooed grandma

I don’t have any tattoos. I can appreciate their beauty, but the paiful process and the permanent result are just not for me. Plus I have to admit that I grew up in a household where people with tattoos were considered rebels.  If a friend of mine got a tattoo  my parents would often say “she’ll regret it when she gets older and matures.” Most of them haven’t regret it by the way.

With that upbringing as part of my life baggage imagine what came to mind when WGN special projects producer Pam Grimes picked me to cover a story about a 78 year old grandma who got her first tattoo on her 75 birthday. She now has more than 50 including sleeves.

I’ll be honest with you, I was expecting a hippie whose house would smell like incense and who would tell me all about how we should be one with the universe, how my chakra needed to be centered.  Boy was I in for a surprise! I was about to get schooled.

Click to see her story:,0,205828.story

I have never met a woman who exemplifies living your freedom more than Helen Lambin.  She found a new interest in tattoos and she went for it.  Reactions are mostly positive but frankly Helen doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She loves her new interest during the last chapter of her life.  She still goes to church, is active in politics and now she gets to talk to a generation of people that can relate to her thanks to her tattoos.  Helen hasn’t adopted a new life style, she is the same woman except with dozens of tattoos. She told me she was looking for a way to grow old gracefully and this fits her style.

I love that Helen has no regrets, no excuses. This is her life and as long as she is not hurting anybody, she can do what she loves. Helen’s story taught me that we can try new things at any given point of our lives. Because you weren’t intrested at age 30, doesn’t mean you can’t try it in you sixties. (Emphasis on legal stuff please) If only we could all be this self assured at any age. Ay Mama!


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  • I love Helen! I actually met her last Sunday at her church, Immanuel Lutheran. It was my first time at church in awhile, and she came right up and introduced herself, and once she found out I am a Loyola student, we talked about all things LUC. I noticed her tattoos, but because of her outgoing and spunky nature they didn't even seem out of place on her.
    For this reason, I was happy to see your story. It really gave a good back story to the tattoos, and highlighted a wonderful member of the Edgewater community.

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