On the outside of my right arm, maybe five or six inches up from the wrist, I have a scar about the size and shape of a kidney bean. When I point it out to people, I always tell them that I got it when my mother attacked me with an iron.
Of course, that is a less-than-accurate retelling of a story I can no longer quite remember. There was an iron, for sure. And a curious, dimwitted, clumsy boy who I’m pretty sure was me. Afterwards there was a scab—I do remember that part (because when you’re a dimwitted boy, scabs are super cool). But the rest of the memory is pretty sketchy.
What I do recall with clarity from those long-ago days is growing up in a house filled with lots of other children and the corresponding chaos that ensues when you have seven kids crammed together into a single, middle-class home. And I remember a brief window of time each day when everyone else was at school or napping or whatever and I had my mother pretty much to myself. It’s so long ago that I have little more than a few mental snapshots left of that era, but one of those snapshots would show me lounging on the floor at the foot of the ironing board. My mom was ironing this, that, and the other thing while telling me stories. Or maybe we watched Art Linkletter together—just the two of us. I’m pretty sure it was Art, anyway. Either that or The Match Game. Either way, it didn’t really matter.
What’s left of that memory is telling. The stories and the television programming barely register. The pain and tears and trauma of the injury? Gone completely. But the feeling of one-on-one time with the greatest woman on the planet? Treasured still, even fifty-some years after the fact.
Brings a whole new meaning to the term “scarred for life,” now doesn’t it?
I think of her, and the words of Jesus reverberate in my head: “Go, and do thou likewise,” He said (Luke 10:37). I look down again at my arm and it occurs to me: I need to spend a little more time with my son. But just in case, I think I’ll leave the ironing board in the closet.