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Footprints In Ink Tattoos

Updated on January 8, 2014

Footprints Inked

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Family Tattooed Memorial

In 2004, I lost my second husband to suicide. He hung himself at our lumberyard that we co-operated in Tipton, Missouri. I found him hanging at 7:23 in the morning on September 16. It was a devastating tragedy and experience for my son and me to live through. Charles Robert Knippel II left behind a wife, a nine-year son, and his mother. His sister had preceded him in death several years before he killed himself. Her name was Rebecca Jean Knippel-Huckins, an Army soldier. At the young age of 26, she lost her battle with breast cancer and left behind a loving husband, Huck and an eighteen-month year old daughter named Emily. Therefore, on September 16, my mother in-law Karen Parton lost all her children. I cannot imagine losing all my children before I die. Karen was the first person to see her children born. She was also the last person to see both her children alive.

Upon my husband’s death, my best friend at the time got three small footprint tattoos. Traci loves tattoos and wanted a tattoo to commemorate Buck’s legacy. She has since covered them up, however I thought her loving gesture was a true testament too the man Buck had been. Her small footprint tattoos (neatly positioned on the topside on her right foot, just below the ankle) were brightly colored turquoise, yellow, and magenta. I asked her why three footprints and she told me one was for her children (Buck was their Godfather), one for Buck and one for my son, Zachary. I am not a tattoo fan, but these simplistic symbols were beautiful.

I have noticed since then that footprint tattoos are becoming more elaborate and common. Out of all the tattoos out there, these varying designs are my favorite. I love what they possibly represent. It is as if they are a celebration of life. I see spiritual crosses all the time. Instinctively I think of death. I think how sad. I think of the pain those persons must have suffered through. I think it was more traumatic than mine was. However, when I see a footprint tattoo, I think of something completely different. The doors of my mind open up to what their life must have been. I wonder what wonderful path they must have walked on this earth and I know that their footprints in the sand are timeless.

My favorite family tattoos are the ones celebrating the birth of a child. Regardless if that child is alive or dead. It is a wonderful thing to bore a child. It is a marvelous thing to witness when a father sees his child for the first time and weeps in joy. I cannot think of a better way to mark this occasion, than that of the baby’s footprint. It is a truly unique way of showing pride. That is what I love about it. Thank you for reading this hub.

My Son's Poetry


My son was thirteen when he decided to write this poem. It was actually a school project, and the teacher was kind enough to save it for me. Otherwise, I would have known nothing about it. It is about his dad. His father committed suicide when Zachary was nine years old. I didn't realize he felt this way. It is amazing what can be discovered through poetry.

I, too, feel America

I am the kid who has no dad

I watch my friends

play and laugh with their dads

Some kids picked on me and teased me


I'll be there still without a father

while yours grow older.


You'll feel my pain someday

when yours goes too.

I, too, feel America

—Zach Knippel

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