“Mom, I don’t care if a girl every loves me other than you”, I said as tears streamed down my eyes.
The teardrops that were swelling in her eyes broke free as she smiled and pulled me in close for a hug. She even started to laugh. It was 1979, I had just chipped a permanent tooth right smack in the middle of my mouth. I had firmly believed I could make that jump on my bike. I didn’t. I learned that sometimes things aren’t as easy as they appear.
Then there was the time I was “Surfing USA” on the trailer behind the riding mower. The bump from the grass to the concrete caused a colossal wipeout. Caught between the trailer and the concrete as my brother continued to drive forward… my legs, knees and elbows looked like a pizza… with extra cheese. I learned to always watch out for the bumps ahead.
“You’re a sweet doggy”, I said as I reached my hand over the chain linked fence. As my little finger lay dangling and my palm was turned to hamburger meat, my mom drove me to the emergency room. I learned not to be so trusting.
The scars on the back of my calves… well they helped straighten me out. I had to wear leg braces for the first year of my life. They were much bigger scars as an infant and toddler. I’ve learned you don’t always get dealt a fair hand, but you make the best of it.
The scar that is somewhat hidden in my brow… that was a superman dive from halfway down the hall while enraged at my older brother. At the last second my mom jumped between us while I was practically in mid-air. As a result, we all went crashing through the bathroom door. I’m sad to report that all three of us received scars that day. I learned that family is family no matter what. You forgive and move on.
One of many scars on my hands and fingers occurred while trimming Thermo-Ply while framing houses in Dallas, TX. Not much to learn there… except I did learn I wanted to work in air conditioning and not outside.
The surgery scar from abdominal hernia… it’s right above my bellybutton. I excused the pain away for months. In fact, it wasn’t until my stomach became deformed and I was hunched over in agony that I finally agreed to go to the emergency room. They performed surgery 12 hours later. I learned not to put things off.
The bite marks on my arms… from several fights. For some reason I always seemed to get bit during my younger brawls. Lessons learned here? Walk away when you can. If you can’t, keep your appendages away from chomping teeth.
The annoying scar under my chin was a gradual thing. My chinstrap in football kept rubbing me wrong when I was 16. At one point, it looked like I had a nipple growing under my chin. This presented other problems, like the 3 inch ingrown hair I pulled out of the festering irritation almost a year later. I learned to grow a beard to hide it.
One scar completely hidden unless you are performing an x-ray… my radius bone. It was broken in practice during a tackling drill. I told the coach I broke it. He informed me immediately that I did not break it and to get back and do the drill again. The second attempt completely snapped it… causing my arm to extend an extra 5 inches in a grotesque shape. Lesson learned, not everyone will believe the truth.
The scar on the back of my head, well… you all know that story. If not, check out Night of the Dallas Iguana. I learned that sometimes you’re on your own… and waiting for help can only make things worse. If it’s inevitable, go ahead and take care of business.
Scars are part of who I am. When you think about it, they’re really part of who we all are. Without them, so many lessons and experiences would be missed. They are the tattoos of life.
I often think that God, evolution or Mother Nature knew what they were doing when they left the heart hidden safely inside. Too many scars left behind there. Too many lessons learned and possibly still left to learn. Yes, they heal… but the scars remain.