The meaning behind Lucas Bois’ tattoo

Bree Soule, Online Editor in Chief

Sitting in a chair at a tattoo parlor, 16-year-old Lucas Bois watched as he got his first tattoo. A slight pain with every prick. He ended up with a tattoo larger than a softball on his left shoulder. With a black outline and a shaded background, the tree of life tattoo he got has a story behind it. A story he wished didn’t have to end. He got the tattoo for his grandpa, Gary O’Neill, who passed away four years ago from brain cancer.

“He gave me a gold necklace with the tree of life the last Christmas we spent together,” Lucas said. “That’s what made me decide to get that as the tattoo.”

Lucas lived with his mom, grandpa and grandma growing up, so him and his grandpa spent a lot of time together. They were the closest out of anyone in the family and his grandpa treated Lucas like his own son. Spoiling him, teaching him how to be a good man. How to show respect and treat a girl right. He even shared his passions with Lucas, playing guitar with him before dinner and before bed.

“He was like a dad to me,” Lucas said. “I’ve always loved music and he taught me how to play drums and guitar. That’s one of my favorite memories I have with him. He taught me the names of strings then basically started showing me a bunch of chords and then onto songs and I kind of just picked it up. I just had a talent with music somehow.”

When Lucas’s grandpa was diagnosed, he was told he had exactly one year left to live.

“When I found out he had cancer, I was extremely sad and disappointed,” Lucas said. “I was sad knowing I was losing my best friend, but I didn’t want him in pain.”

His grandpa didn’t slow down when he learned about his condition. He actually sped up to make sure his family had everything they needed when he was gone. Especially Lucas’s grandma, Kay O’Neill.

“He was a really good man,” Lucas said. “As he was getting sicker, he was fixing the house and bathrooms and thought about my grandma. The bills, the cars and insurance stuff. He made sure she would have no problem when he was gone.” 

Lucas’s grandpa continued spoiling him throughout the last year of his life as well. He bought Lucas a $499 camera, Xbox games and a $399 virtual reality set.

“He got me everything I wanted when he found out he had cancer,” Lucas said. “He’d listen and then say ‘Go get it with him Kay, I won’t be able to spoil him for long goddamnit I mean it’, even when I didn’t ask him to get me anything.”

Before his grandpa passed, they took one last trip to Port Austin for the weekend.“He said, ‘Let’s go tomorrow,’ so we did,” Lucas said. 

His grandpa never swam, but on that trip, he went swimming in the lake with Lucas and said to him, “Bet that one surprised the crap out of you.” 

“On the way home was when he started getting really sick,” Lucas said. “I guess he told Kay that he felt he could only do it one more time.”

And he was right. He got worse as time went on and unfortunately, the cancer won the battle.

”I still remember the last words he said to me,” Lucas said. “He told me he loved me. I’ll never forget that.”

Lucas’s tree of life tattoo has his grandpa’s initials, “GMO,” 13 leaves falling to signify his favorite number and has his grandpa’s birth and death date on each side. But he isn’t stopping there.

“I’m planning to get the brain cancer symbol on the front of my shoulder after I turn 18,” Lucas said. “I miss him and want to get it for him. He did so much for me and was just a great man all around.”