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Millie's Story: Why A Beaufort County Grandma Got A Tattoo


Older Americans are pretty hip these days it seems. It's not uncommon for grandma and grandpa to be on Facebook, or even humming the latest hit song.

But when we saw a picture on Facebook of what one grandma did recently, that many younger people do, we just had to ask her why. Her answer left as much of an impression as what she did.

76-year-old Millie Stubblefield enjoys taking care of all the flowers and plants in her yard along the banks of the beautiful Pamlico River in Beaufort County. It's just one of the many activities that keep her busy. She also loves putting puzzles together, quilting, knitting, and of course, loving and adoring her grandchildren and dog. In many ways, you might say Millie's your typical grandma.

But there's one thing that sets her apart. Her butterfly tattoo on her leg!

Millie says it's something she's always wanted to do. So she made her way to "The Missing Ink" tattoo shop in downtown Washington, not far from where she ran her own hair styling business for more than 40-years. She walked in and said, "I'm looking to get a tattoo."

You can only imagine the reaction she got. "They looked at me like, well I know that old lady is lost. She's in the wrong place."

Ryan Bettner is the owner of "The Missing Ink." He says, "I kind of thought back and said, well, this is going to be interesting."

And Millie knew it would be interesting explaining to her daughter when she saw it. "She said, mama, please tell me that's a stick on? I said nah. It's the real McCoy."

So why get a tattoo at 76? It's a question Bettner had too. He says, "Cause you have to find out the story of why they're getting it first, not just what they're getting, but why they're getting it."

And it turns out the butterfly has a special significance for Millie. She says it represents her 38-years of sobriety. Millie says, "And a butterfly in my mind, somewhere along the line in reading the literature, is a symbol of freedom. But a freedom from alcohol."

The tattoo serves as a constant reminder of what she conquered. And a lesson Millie says, that even as we get older, if there are things that we've always wanted to do, like getting a tattoo, "Then goodness knows do it. Do it. It's OK."

As for what others think when they see her tattoo? Millie says, "Well, wonder if she's got any anywhere else."

Millie says she enjoys the one tattoo she has and doesn't plan on getting any more.


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