Recently, I heard a commercial for a product that will fade scars, the implication being that scars are unattractive and a cause of embarrassment.  As for myself, I would not want to make my scars fade away; our scars can be valuable, as they can tell our stories.

I have a variety of scars all over my body, and each one has a story attached to it.  There is the scar on my calf from where a dog bit me while riding my bike on the Perkiomen Trail in April of 2007.  I was riding up the hill towards Collegeville, when I saw a women coming down towards me.  She had two dogs that she was having trouble controlling.  I moved to the other side of the trail, and then so did she, so I moved back, and so did she.  When we were about to run into each other, I pointed to the other side of the trail, and began moving again, but I hit a patch of mud that slowed me down, and that was enough time for the dog to take a chunk out of my leg. Although she gave me her information, she never answered my phone calls and the bite cost a lot of money as I needed to go to the ER to get my wounds cleaned and tetanus shots, but I did not have health insurance.  I did however, get the dog quarantined, so I hope that cost them a few bucks in vet bills.

I have a new scar on my right elbow, from when I shattered it by falling on the ice last year, one on my right knee from when I had a weird growth removed la few years ago. and two on either side of my right ankle from when I fell while roller-skating with my daughter in 1998 and broke it in three places.  That took three pins and a titanium strip, and three days in the hospital.  I was left with long scars on the both sides of my ankle, which I like to show off when I can…it also left me with the ability to know whenever a Thunderstorm is nearby.

On my right shin is a tiny scar that I can hardly find any more, which is I got at Camp Beisler during the summer of 1974, when two of the counselors were teaching me how to dive, and I was positioned over the ladder that led down into the water from the dock.  When they told us to go I hesitated and fell, putting a nice gash in my leg.  I got to ride back to the infirmary in the old WWII era Jeep (which did not have any brakes) where they put on few butterfly bandages and sent me on my way.  The worst part was that I could not go swimming again that week.

I also have several scars on my head, one from when I was wrestling with my friend Jeffrey Moon after church one Sunday in ’76.  He pushed me and I fell, cracking my head on a cement step.  After I fell, I got up, but was dizzy.  I could feel that I had been hurt, but not how badly.  I walked into the church and found my mother and put my head on her shoulder.  I looked up to see everyone rushing to help me, and saw that I had left a big blood stain on my mother’s dress! Fortunately one of the church members was a nurse, and he wrapped up my head with gauze and took me to the hospital where I got 12 stitches!  It was also fortunate that it was the ’70’s and my mother’s dress was mostly polyester and easy to clean!

Then there is the slight bump on my upper lip, from 1968, when I tripped over the TV cord while on my way to the bathroom.  That also lead to an evening in the ER, I was 5 and not very cooperative, but my big sister, who is a nurse, was there to help calm me down.  That left me with several stitches in my lip, which was no fun, but I was able to use a straw to drink my milk in Kindergarten…and no one else was allowed to do that!!

And I have a tiny scar, buried in my right eyebrow, from when I took a tumble off the second floor of the house in East Orange.  Although it was only about 15 feet, over the years the height has varied from 20 to 30 feet as I have told the story.  But it was only 15 feet, and that’s far enough to fall!  I was on the porch roof, painting the house when I got a phone call.  I leaned on the balcony railing, unaware that it was rotted, to ask my dad who it was, and next thing I knew I was falling and then crashing to the ground.  That was another trip to the ER, more X-rays, and a few cracked ribs as well as three stitches in my eyebrow.

The fun scar is in the middle of my forehead, and can only be seen when I crinkle my brow.  It was Thanksgiving 1986, and I had just started my job at ADP.  I was at my brother Paul’s for Thanksgiving Dinner with the family.  I was still drinking back then, and I had a few beers, so I was in fine form.  When my nephews asked me to play with them in the basement, I was happy to join in their game of tag!  We ran around the basement with the lights off, shining flashlights around to see.  Suddenly, I sensed that they were in danger, and leaped into action!  Without a thought for my own well-being, I slammed into the H-VAC duct to save my nephews from certain doom (it was attacking them)!  My sister, the nurse, was there again, and she told me it was no big deal as she bandaged me up, but she made stay away from the booze for the rest of the day before giving me the okay to drive home a few hours later, once she was sure I did not have a concussion.  It was fun going back to my new job the next day (yes, we were open the day after Thanksgiving) having to explain the huge band-aid on my head.

I also have several more, smaller scars, from burns (some recent, from my time working for a Cleaning and Restoration Company), to cuts and scrapes from bike riding, drunken falls, and do it yourself home repair projects…oh yeah and the one on my big toe from when my brother Pete set off a firecracker near my bare foot while in vacation in Canada in ’67 (to be fair though, he did yell at me to move before the firecracker went off)!

However, the most striking scars are also the ones that run deepest.  They are long ugly surgical scars on my shoulders!  These scars were given to me by my biological parents, who often let their emotions and their anger get the better of them. When I was little I used to tell people that I had those scars because I was adopted, which was not far from the truth, as it is because of those scars that I was adopted!

I was taken away from my biological parents due to the abuse, and it was the severity of my injuries that ensured that I would not be given back to them, but would instead be put into the foster care system.  The surgery itself was a gift of Dr. Kessler, the man who saved my life, and they remind me to be grateful for the family that gave me the opportunity to live my life, the family who adopted me and became my real family!

When times are tough, or I am feeling like things are not working out the way I would like them too…all I need to do is look at those scars on my shoulders and remember that every day I live on this earth, is a gift.  Okay I don’t always live like each day is a gift, as I can be very grouchy and un-grateful far too often; but it is true, that I could have died before my first birthday, if not for the grace of God, working through those who stepped in to help me.

I would never want to lose my scars, as they tell my story, the good and the bad, and the foolish; getting these scars made me who I am today, and in many ways I am only who I am today because of these scars and how getting them have changed my life.  Getting rid of my scars would be like denying a large part of who I am, and it would give me fewer stories to tell.


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