Tattoos: not too cool for school


From being high school sweethearts at KO to getting married to now working together at their alma mater, French teacher Ryan Brodeur and physics teacher Kathleen DiSanto have been inseparable. However, something less noticeable bonds them together even more: their tattoos.

Mr. Brodeur got his first tattoo in the summer of 2012 in the middle of his right forearm. His son Rowan had just been born and he decided to get a tattoo of Rowan’s footprint, serving as a reminder of the joy brought by the birth of his son.

A year later, he surrounded that footprint in stars, selecting bright, prominent constellations in the summer sky to which he had always been drawn: Cygnus the swan, Lyra the harp, and Aquila the eagle.

The stars and the night sky had always fascinated Mr. Brodeur, and he was getting into observational astronomy. “I’ve always been impressed by the majesty of night-sky observing, and liked being able to look down and just get that feeling,” he said.

He even got involved in the astronomy club at Xavier High School in Middletown, where he taught at the time and became its faculty advisor.

When his daughter Kinley was born, Mr. Brodeur said he decided to honor her in a similar way to Rowan and tattoo his left arm with her footprint, surrounded with three more constellations. This time he selected Pegasus, Andromeda, and Cassiopeia, prominent autumn constellations and famous Greek myths.

To Mr. Brodeur, the tattoos of Rowan and Kinley’s footprints are the most important tattoos to him. “It’s a nice reminder of where they were and where I was,” he said with a hint of a smile. “I can hold up my kids’ feet to them and see how big they’ve gotten.”

While Mr. Brodeur loves the symbolic meaning of his tattoos, he also likes the general aesthetic of them. He is a self-proclaimed “sleeve-roller,” so he spends a great deal of time with exposed forearms. He said that he really enjoys the texture and aesthetic that these tattoos give his arms.

Mr. Brodeur’s tattoos had a major influence on Ms. DiSanto, too. Although she had been around tattoos her whole life – her brother is a tattoo artist and is covered in tattoos – and always wanted one, she never actually went through with it until Mr. Brodeur got his. That’s when she knew that it was time to get one of her own.

The idea of actually getting a tattoo had always made her nervous, though. She wanted something significant enough to her to permanently ink onto her body, and therefore she said she needed to be sure that days, months, or years later she would not regret it.

Seeing her husband get all of his tattoos, however, inspired Ms. DiSanto to finally get one and she finally found something that was important to her..

This tattoo, which she got in 2017, was inspired by the book “Plant a Kiss,” one that her daughter adored. In the story, the main character plants a kiss and it grows into something that makes everybody happy.

Taking this inspiration, Ms. DiSanto ended up getting three stars – one of the illustrations from the book – on her right arm, which she and her family like to say represent her two children along with Mr. Brodeur, the most important people in her life. “I knew that with something so sweet, I wouldn’t regret it,” Ms. DiSanto reflected warmly.

To Ms. DiSanto, this tattoo was a gateway that turned her from a tattoo skeptic into a tattoo enthusiast. “Once I knew what I wanted, it became much less scary,” she said. After noticing that her arm looked empty except for the stars, Ms. DiSanto she decided that it was time to get another one about a year later.

After much deliberation, Ms. DiSanto settled on a mermaid tattoo, also on her right arm. She had always liked mermaids and believed that they, much like the three stars, were something sweet and loving.

The mermaid and the stars are integrated into one coherent picture, with the stars becoming part of a line of bubbles surrounding the mermaid.

Tattoos may mean nothing more than a minor interest for many, but for Mr. Brodeur and Ms. DiSanto, they are representative of a deep bond and reflect the important things, such as love, family, hope, wonder in their lives. Whenever times get tough, both said that all they have to do is look to their arms, and they are immediately reminded of better times and reasons for pushing forward.