Friday, April 4, 2014


I have so many scars. I hope I'm not normal that way. I mean, I hope not everyone is as unfortunate as to have all the scars I have.

I will admit that I am not graceful; in fact I am quite clumsy. But I must say that not all of my scars are due to my clumsiness.

I was just a toddler. My mother was making popcorn. That was before we had microwave popcorn or JiffyPop that comes in the little aluminum pan that expands as the corn pops. We heated lard in a pan, put in the popcorn, and covered the pan. Then we moved the pan back and forth over the fire to make sure all the kernels popped. It was a lot of work but the popcorn was good.

As I said I was just a baby. Mom turned from the stove while the lard was getting hot. I wondered what was in the pan so I reached up as high as I could. I managed to grab the handle of the pan. The hot lard poured out of the pan and all down the front of me.

My first memory in life is standing on the toilet with my mother putting some sort of salve on my legs. She kept saying, "Your legs, your legs." She was certain my legs were going to be scarred by the terrible burns.

She had called the doctor when I burned myself. He gave her some sort of salve and told her to apply it liberally to the burned areas. She was so worried about my legs.

My legs are not scarred as luck would have it. But the hand that grabbed the handle of the pan was also severely burned. The back of my left hand is one big scar. I am fortunate that even though it is a big ugly scar, it is not noticeable until someone looks closely.

My hand has always looked like an old woman's hand. The skin is thin and mottled. If you look closely you can see where the skin was burned. It could have been so much worse.

The big garden had been mowed. It was the end of summer and time to let the ground rest. School had not started yet so I was not wearing shoes as I ran with my brothers and sisters through what had been the garden.

It was not unusual to step on things. My feet were calloused so I normally did not feel anything. But this time was different. I must have stepped on either a sunflower stalk or a corn stalk. My foot was bleeding.

I ran to my mother. She took a look and knew it was a bad cut. A dishpan full of water as warm as I could stand it and epsom salts was the treatment. When the water would start to cool she would add more hot water from the tea kettle.

I don't know how long I sat soaking. It felt like hours and it might have been. I just don't know. I fell asleep. I do know my foot was sore for a while. And I have a nice scar across the bottom of my right foot to remind me of the cut.

My brother had cut his leg and needed stitches. The day the stitches were to be removed we were playing hide-and-seek. "It" would stay in the house and count to 100. The rest of us would burst out of the house and find a good place to hide.

We lived on the corner. Our house sat up from the street. By that I mean that from the sidewalk there was a steep slope up to the rest of the yard. It must have been about four feet high. My favorite place to hide was to find a place on that slope and lie flat. Somehow no one figured out that I would be there.

That day I ran out and threw myself to the ground to hide. Someone had driven by and threw their beer bottle out of the car, probably the night before. The bottle broke and the bottom of it had two big sharp points coming up from it. I had not seen it and my right wrist came down on the sharp edges.

I was rushed to the doctor. Mom said she could see bone and tendons. I saw nothing because I could not look at it. I needed stitches. So I have stitch marks on my wrist.

I often played with an older girl who lived at the end of our street. We had one game where we did some fancy dance moves on the steps at the front of the house.

I went down to play one day but no one was home. We did not have steps at our house. I amused myself by seeing how many steps I could jump from. I did not see the broken fruit jar until it was too late. My right hand landed on a piece of it. I have a small crescent shaped scar on the heel of my hand from that day.

One of my best friends lived by the creek. There were three of us that were almost inseparable. We were not supposed to play by the creek but we often snuck down there and went skinny dipping.

One of those times we decided to make a slide by throwing water onto the bank to make it muddy and slippery. It was a great idea.

The girl who lived there went down first. I was close behind her with the other girl close behind me. The one who went first screamed that something scratched her. I was right behind her and I felt something cut my leg. The last of us cut her leg really bad.

I have a scar on my right leg to show for that one. I was recently talking to girl number three. She has a much bigger scar.

We were living in a small town, as usual. Daddy was a plumber/electrician there. For some reason he tied some of the plumbing pipes between two trees we had in front of the house. I guess it was to keep them from rusting.

I was in the 8th grade then so you would not think that I would still be playing hide-and-seek but I like that game. Hide-and-seek in the dark was best because you could hide in obvious places and not be seen in the dark. It was the same old rules. "It" in the house and the rest running out to hide.

I ran out of the house into the dark and caught the end of one of those pipes right next to my right eye. It bounced off and came back to hit me two more times before I got enough sense to duck.

When I went in the house my eye was full of blood. Mom was sure I had lost my eye. There was the main wound right next to my eye (it is about as far away from my eye as the width of my little fingernail) and two more right beneath it.

Once we got the bleeding to stop, Mom realized I still could see. The bottom two hits healed. But I have a small scar next to my eye.

Also in the 8th grade we were all playing tricks on each other and throwing spitballs. Then we discovered shooting rubber bands. Then we discovered that we could shoot sandburrs with rubber bands. So much more fun...

We were all hit so many times. They hurt too. One time I was hit on my left cheek and had to pull the sandburr out. That hurt too. And it caused a keloid. It looks like a beauty mark but it is really a scar.

The other scars I have are from surgeries. I had to have my appendix out one week after I was married. Right after my daughter was born I had a tubal ligation. A couple of years after that I had to have my gall bladder removed. Then I had colon cancer and it required surgery. My abdomen looks like train tracks.

Sometimes I look back and wonder how I survived to adulthood. And beyond. But the scars each give me a memory and I guess that makes them special.

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