Thomas Resch, 21, of Marysville, has a tattoo on his chest of his mom’s last heartbeat. Deborah Resch, 50, died Jan. 16. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Thomas Resch, 21, of Marysville, has a tattoo on his chest of his mom’s last heartbeat. Deborah Resch, 50, died Jan. 16. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

A tribute that’s more than skin deep

Thomas Resch had his late mom’s heartbeat and last note to him tattooed on his chest.

MARYSVILLE — His mom was close to his heart in life.

Her death didn’t change that.

Thomas Resch, 21, had his mom’s heartbeat from a Fitbit and her parting note to him tattooed on his chest.

This isn’t your typical pretty “Mom” tattoo with flowers. It’s a graphic replica of her zigzagged heart rhythm and shaky writing.

The note was scrawled the day he moved out of her house, coincidentally hours before she died Jan. 16 of a cardiac arrest. She was only 50.

“I am going to miss you A LOT!!” it reads. “I love you.”

Resch tweeted a photo of his new tattoo, as he does every time he adds to his ink-festooned bod.

This tweet went beyond his usual bodybuilder and tattoo circle of followers.

It went global.

Buzzfeed picked it up. It was retweeted 16,000 times and liked 89,000 times.

His social media tribute explained the message his mom, Deborah, scrawled hours before the fatal second cardiac arrest.

“She lost mobility in her hands from her previous cardiac arrest so some people may see the words as messy but it’s beyond perfect in my eyes,” he wrote. “I love you so much momma.”

An earlier tweet was equally touching: “Today I lost my best friend …. I’ll never forget the things you taught me, how to laugh, how to be strong, how to be honest, and most of all how to love.”

The tweets struck a universal chord.

Deborah Resch, 50, died Jan. 16. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)

Deborah Resch, 50, died Jan. 16. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)

“It blew up,” Resch said. “I got people from Paris and all these other ​​countries ​​reaching out, sharing their memories of family. I really hope it opened people’s eyes to see really how valuable and amazing their parents are.”

Hundreds of people (not only moms) tweeted him their sympathy and admiration. Some women didn’t stop there. “After their condolences, they’d start hitting on me,” he said.

Sorry, gals. He’s taken. He and his girlfriend are expecting a baby in June.

His dad, James, said he’s flabbergasted by the international attention.

“I look at foreign newspapers and I can’t even read their print and my family’s picture is on their front page,” James Resch said. “She’d be embarrassed that her face was all over the place.”

His wife of 31 years would also be proud. “She loved her boys dearly and vice versa.”

Thomas Resch might not look the type to wax warm and fuzzy. He’s 6-foot-6 of solid muscle that he sports at bodybuilding contests.

He’s the youngest of four sons — after Zachary, Adam and Joshua — of a stay-at-home mom and a Boeing tech designer dad. “I was their last shot for a girl,” he said.

Resch admits he was spoiled.

“I was her little pickle. She’d always call me ‘Pickle,’ ” he said. “I always went to my mom for everything.”

Her other loyal followers included eight grandkids and wiener dog Charlie.

Family came first. Crafting ranked second. “My brother and I shared a room for the longest time because she had to have a stamp room.”

In her woman cave, she’d watch romantic comedy movies while making cards to family and friends using rubber stamps.

“She had the best handwriting ever,” Resch said. “She always loved to write.”

He has keepsakes of her immaculate script. The tattoo of her final message offers a special way to tell his children about their grandma.

“My mom always wanted me to have a kid so she’d have her little Tommy,” he said. When he and his girlfriend learned they were expecting, his mom was the first person he told.

She was the last person he told when he got a tattoo on his 18th birthday. She didn’t approve, at first.

Both arms now have tattoo sleeves. There’s scripture. Another tattoo is of his car. When he added the Silver Surfer LEGO guy to recognize his dad and their many Marvel movie viewings together, she said: “Get one for me then.”

“I tried to figure out what I wanted to get for my mom,” he said. “You don’t want to walk around and see somebody with the same tattoo.”

Resch saw her daily the last months of her life. By chance, he had moved back home last fall, shortly before her first cardiac arrest in September, which deprived her brain of oxygen.

She had to learn how to write again. She spent hours practicing. It was part of a long, difficult recovery.

“We both wore Fitbits and we’d talk about how many steps we did that day,” Resch said. “It was a fun thing with us.”

He’d easily get 10,000 steps on his job scouting underground utilities for ISIC, an infrastructure protection company. She got hers doing housework.

He took a screenshot from her Fitbit of her last recorded heartbeat. Artist Donovan Walker at Anvil Tattoo in Marysville used a stencil for the tattoo.

“Something like that I make as true as possible,” Walker said. “It’s a very cool thing to be able to help someone move through their grieving process.”

A funeral Mass was held Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic church in Everett.

Resch said his mom knew she was living on borrowed time. Her odds of surviving another cardiac arrest were slim. She made the most of every moment, hosting family game nights at the house and going overboard during the holidays.

The day before she died, he moved out and into a place with his girlfriend, Annamarie, to prepare for their baby. His mom made him a care package with laundry pods, foil and kitchen items. He later found the shaky note written on a piece of his mail she tucked in the box. ​

She’d added “Pic” short for “Pickle” next to her signature.

“I could see how hard my mom tried to write that note for me,” he said.

Now he wears it as a badge of honor to share with others, and a reminder of a mother’s love when he looks in the mirror.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@herald Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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