Scars tell the story of our lives

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Scars are not something I think about much. However, a piece in The New York Times set me thinking about them and the stories they tell.

As the Times writer revisited the markings on his body, he shared stories about the ones he remembered getting and wondered about the ones that are a mystery. He called scars “humans’ original tattoos.”

That set me on a journey from head to toe to see what my scars might tell me. Interestingly, I found that I don’t have many, which perhaps speaks of someone living a cautious life.

For example, I’ve never broken a bone, so there is not a story of a fall while attempting some daring feat. I can’t remember ever having stitches, except when I had a mole removed and that isn’t exactly grabbing life by the horns and running with it.

Of course there were skinned knees from sidewalk skating spills or bike wrecks, not unique injuries from hair raising experiences. I vaguely remember a case of impetigo, but it left no souvenir scarring and no adventure caused it. More likely it was brought on from an ant bite I wouldn’t stop scratching.

In fact, the only place with a visible sign of childhood trauma is the third finger of my right hand that has a tiny line near the nail. It is a reminder of the time the front door slammed suddenly from the wind of an approaching hurricane. That’s about as close as I come to having an exciting story.

My grown children, on the other hand, have bodies that are road maps of adventure. And they have interesting stories to go along with their scars.

My oldest daughter has a small spot on her lip and the tale of how she and her oldest brother had a head-on collision one Sunday morning (A million times I’d said don’t run in the house because you are going to get hurt and she did). His head proved harder than her lip and we spent an hour or so at the hospital getting it stitched up.

Not to be outdone, my sons had their own mouth traumas. The oldest one split his tongue almost in half. Then later a baseball hit him in the mouth during a Little League game. The youngest was also injured playing baseball. A bat hit him in the teeth when he was about three.

Both sons went on to break bones, one during a backyard football game and the other when he pulled a 200-pound pool table over on himself.

And then there were the stitches in a child’s behind after a go-cart incident. And there was the trip to the doctor following one child’s attempt to chop wood that got another child’s finger instead of the log.

From time to time at family gatherings, the children tell their scar stories and they laugh as they recall surviving childhood. It’s all fun now — at the time it wasn’t quite as entertaining for their mother.

As The New York Times writer observed, it is amazing that some of us get through childhood alive.

Remembering my children’s injury stories, I strained my brain and scanned my body trying again to find some of my own, but there wasn’t anything to find.

I wonder if inside scars count, because I’m sure I have a dozy from that childhood tonsillectomy. I mean I had complications that sent me back to the emergency room in the middle of a stormy night.

Now that’s exciting stuff. Just ask me and I’ll tell you about it. Hey, I might even yawn and let you see my scar.