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Mothers are on many of our minds during the month of May and Angelina Jolie is no exception. The actress was close to her mother Marcheline Bertrand prior to her death, which happened when Jolie was still only in her thirties. There’s a tattoo on her right hand that largely has been referenced as an “m” for her mother, but Angelina Jolie recently revealed the real story behind the tattoo, which she got after her mother passed away in 2007.
For one, it’s not an “m.” Though the tattoo is for Marcheline, we’ve been wrong about the letter. It’s actually a “w” for “Winter,” a song written by The Rolling Stones written for the album Goat’s Head Soup in 1973. A favorite of Marcheline Bertrand’s, it became a focal point of Angelina Jolie’s and she shared her memories of the song in a recently penned essay.
I got a small tattoo on my right hand after my mother died, knowing that hand tattoos fade. It looks to others like a letter 'm.' But it wasn’t an 'm”'for Marcheline, her name. It was a 'w' for 'Winter' — the Rolling Stones song she sang to me as a baby, and that I remember loving as a little girl. 'It sure been a cold, cold winter,'she would sing to me. And at the line, 'I wanna wrap my coat around you,' she would wrap me up in my blankets and snuggle me.
The song lyrics tie strongly to a memory Angelina Jolie has of her mother from childhood and sharing the memory near Mother’s Day is both fitting and sentimental. In the full New York Times essay, Jolie shared other memories of her childhood, memories of her mother’s experiences as an actress and even of convincing Jolie her path could be acting too. She's previously been open about worrying about her mother while growing up and trying to remain strong in her own life because of that.
Now, Jolie also shared somber memories of growing up after her famous dad Jon Voight cheated on her mother and more, leaving Marcheline Bertrand to figure things out for Jolie and her brother James Haven. And while Angelina Jolie didn’t expressly connect her own mother’s marriage ending to her own high-profile marriage and split from Brad Pitt, she did get candid about personal struggles in a more general sense, tying her own self to The Rolling Stones song written by Mick Jagger and Mick Taylor, as well.
Listening to 'Winter' now, I realize how lonely and afraid my mother must have been, but also how determined she was to fight to make sure her children were all right. As the 'w' faded on my hand, so did that feeling of home and protection. Life has taken many turns. I’ve had my own loss and seen my life take a different direction. And it hurt more than I imagined it ever would. But now, with my girls growing up and being the ages I remember so well as a daughter, I am rediscovering my mother and her spirit.
Mother’s Day is a beautiful day for some and a hard day for others. It can also be a little bit of both connecting the past and present in ways many of us would never have been able to predict. I had no idea that when she started to explain the origin of one of her tattoos the end result would have so much weight, but here we are.