The Illustrated Octogenarian Finds Peace Getting 'Hardcore' Tattoos at 81

The Illustrated Octogenarian Finds Peace Getting ‘Hardcore’ Tattoos at 81

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The Illustrated Octogenarian Finds Peace Getting 'Hardcore' Tattoos at 81

Watch Helen Lambin Gets Another Tattoo

DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner

EDGEWATER — On her 75th birthday, Helen Lambin celebrated at a place she’d never been before: a tattoo parlor.

Now, a half-dozen years and more than 50 tattoos later, the longtime Edgewater resident credits the decision to begin getting tattoos in her golden years with changing her life “expansively.”

“It radically changed growing older,” said Lambin, 81, a retired secretary who grew up in Iowa. “Because when I talk to these people of all different ages, they find it very entertaining that yeah, there’s this white-haired lady with tattoos but the way they’re talking to me is different. It’s like, ‘Oh it’s okay we can talk to each other.’ ”

Last week, she got yet another tattoo at Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co., 1117 W. Belmont Ave., where she is greeted as a regular and feels right at home plopping down on a plush leather couch in a common area to wait her turn, while clutching a copy of “How To Be Compassionate" by the Dalai Lama.

Lambin has relied on the sole talent of David McNair, a tattoo artist at Chicago Tattoo Co., who has called the shop his home since 1987, to ink her body. She said once she develops an idea, she partners with him to create a cohesive and applicable design. McNair says the pleasure is all his.

"The most gratifying part for me is to see the smile on her face when she looks in the mirror the first time," after the tattoo is finished, McNair said.

The latest ink, spelling out "Via Media,” meaning a middle way, in Gothic-themed black block letters, is placed between her shoulder blades. Lambin said the phrase pays homage to her "new spiritual home," the Episcopal Church of the Atonement at 5749 N. Kenmore Ave. There, she says, she’s been met with acceptance from the congregation, many of whom have seen her ink. Although those who see Lambin around town are usually fascinated […]

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