The Gift of Scars
His eyes tired, sad, filled with regret, but so proud to be able to do something so good and so right in that moment.
I'm dreaming of being a child again. When I didn't know much of cruelty and pain. When I didn't know what it was to watch someone you love slip alway slowly. When one of the coolest things in the world was to wait by the radio and hear the words "school is closed." Snow Day! The days where I spent the whole day outside in the woods playing until I finally heard Mom call us back in. Tire swings. Catching crayfish. Wading in creeks. Making bike trails. When the only time you could watch cartoons was Saturday morning so it was a big deal. Boat rides on the lake. Spending summer days at the public pool. My Mom taking us to the library to pick out books which still feels like Christmas to me every time I go, even as an adult. My Dad taking us on Sundays, all 4, piled into his truck to the closest convenience store and we each got to pick out our own candies and fill a bag. My own little paper bag full of what I wanted. Heaven to a child.
Then somewhere along the way, we grow up and life begins to scar us. Now these scars ultimately shape us and make us who we are. These scars format out souls, make us unique. When you look at your scars, they bring back the memory of the event that went with it. Constant reminders of where we've been and how far we've come and where we have yet to go.
My first memorable scar is on my knee. A common thing to happen to a child, but this scar brings with it a precious memory. One of the only ones I have of my grandfather on my dad's side. I was young, maybe seven. We weren't allowed to see him much because he was an abusive alcoholic and my grandmother had long since left him. He had gotten to the point where his addiction and disease was so bad that he was living in an abandoned gas station. My father decided one day that we should go and visit him. When we first pulled up, my brothers, sister and I wouldn't get out of the car. My grandfather sat down in the car with us and I was scared. He was so skinny, so haggard, and basically a stranger to me. Eventually we all got out of the car and we kids began to play in the gravel parking lot. Well, growing up between two brothers, it comes with the territory that you're going to get knocked around a bit. We were playing a game of keepaway with a football and my older brother told my younger brother to trip me. My little brother did it and I fell. I landed on a very sharp rock that went deep in my knee. Blood started pouring out. Being a tomboy, I was pretty used to injury but what stands out about this day was that my grandfather ran inside that old gas station and found a rag. He came back and gently applied pressure to my knee until the bleeding stopped. That's my only clear memory of him. Him looking up at me as he knelt on that gravel. His hand on my knee. His eyes tired, sad, filled with regret, but so proud to be able to do something so good and so right in that moment. A gift really to have that scar on my knee to remember him by. He died a short time later. I know we'll meet again one day and he'll be free of his disease and I'll get the pleasure of knowing him. Knowing the real him. Not the angry, bitter one consumed by alcohol and depression but the one who cared enough to hold that rag to my little knobby knee. The proud grandpa of this child he didn't really know. This child only connected by biology.