Grandma Goes Viral for First Tattoo at 82 — and She Can't Wait for More: 'I'm Just Beginning'

Judy Dede decided to get a music note connecting a fishing hook, cancer ribbon, peace sign and heart inked on her arm in honor of her family

For Judy Dede, age is just a number — and the Indiana grandmother made that clear recently when she decided to get her first tattoo at age 82.

The exciting journey was documented on TikTok by her granddaughter Brandy O'Reilly, 44, and since then, Dede has gone viral on the video platform, earning herself the nickname "Tat Granny."

"When I made my decision to do this, it was just me and my girls," Dede told Good Morning America. "Every day I'm just in awe of what's going on around me."

Dede said she first decided to get inked after reading a Reader's Digest article about an 80-year-old woman who surprised her family by getting a tattoo on her birthday, according to GMA.

"It just blew me away," she recalled to Fox News. "And that's when I said, 'You know what? I'm living each day as best I can because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.'"

"We had been shopping and had just stopped to go to the grocery store, and I said, 'Shut off the car. I'm going to blow your mind. I want to get a tattoo,'" she added. "They were stunned."

Grandma Goes Viral for Getting First Tattoo at 82
Judy Dede.

That moment ended up getting recorded by O'Reilly, who told CBS affiliate WANE that she asked her grandmother to repeat herself because she was caught off guard.

"When she told me that she wanted to get this tattoo, I was completely in shock and blown away," O'Reilly recalled. "I had to get it recorded because I couldn't even believe that she said that."

After sharing the video on her TikTok, O'Reilly's post took off. Since it was posted on Oct. 15, the clip has garnered over 857,000 likes and more than 4,800 comments.

"I just, I never dreamed it," Dede told WANE. "Next thing I know, [O'Reilly's] telling me 'Grandma, we just got a message from somebody in South America.' Messages have come from all over the world… It just blows my mind."

While the video continued to pick up steam, O'Reilly called Black Sheep Tattoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana — the place she went to for her own seven tattoos — and set up an appointment for Dede on Oct. 30, GMA reported.

Since she was already familiar with the process, O'Reilly said she ensured that her grandmother would be prepared for the big day.

"Our biggest concern was her skin because of her age," she explained to GMA. "I made sure that she had something good in her belly before we left because you can't go get a tattoo on an empty stomach, and [she] drank lots of water to make sure that her skin was hydrated."

Then, it was time to get inked — family-affair style.

Joining Dede at the tattoo parlor was O'Reilly and her family, Fox News reported. As Dede got the design added to her forearm, O'Reilly recorded the moment for her TikTok.

"When I got in my chair, Brandy sat on the end and held my hand for support," Dede recalled to GMA. "I just gritted my teeth, turned my head and let it go. She said I did amazing."

After Dede's design was almost complete — her tattoo artist suggested she take a break due to bruising, per Fox News — the rest of the family went under the needle.

"There were four generations getting a tattoo with her. My two sons — her great-grandsons — got their very first tattoo with her," O'Reilly explained to Fox News. "My mother, myself, my wife and my two daughters-in-law got tattoos, as well. My 10-year-old even participated and had a Sharpie tattoo drawn on his arm, so he could be a part of Granny's big day."

The design ended up being a meaningful one: it features a music note connected to a fishing hook, a cancer ribbon, a peace sign and a heart.

"The music note was all-encompassing for our whole family," Dede told Fox News. "We're all a bit musically inclined. Starting with my mother who wrote music, and she sang a lot. And I've just been that way my whole life. I just love to sing and dance."

The fishing hook was added in honor of O'Reilly's father, who unexpectedly died from a heart attack in July, while the cancer ribbon was meant to symbolize O'Reilly's mother-in-law, who died from cancer in 2019, O'Reilly told Fox News.

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She also said the small heart symbolizes all their loved ones, and the peace sign represents the family's "peace of mind, knowing we will always have each other."

"It's just very meaningful to all of us," O'Reilly, who showed off the family tats on TikTok, told WANE.

Speaking about how her tattoo became a family bonding moment, Dede added to the outlet, "I don't think I can even explain how I feel about that. It's just… I'm going to cry. I just try to live each day as best I can because you just never know."

Though the process was painful, Dede told Fox News she's looking forward to returning to the parlor so they can fill in the rest of her design.

She's also excited for her future, which she said now may include even more tats.

"I told [O'Reilly] I'd get another one on my 83rd birthday. What do you think about that?" she quipped to GMA. "People think I'm done now. I think I'm just beginning."

"I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that this would occur," Dede added to Fox News.

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