Tamara Jorell

Writing life and the neighborhood

Writing life and the neighborhood

 

More scars

Last week, I asked you about your scars. Here are some of my readers’ stories:

*****

I have two older brothers. They used to beat me up ... a lot ... for no reason! I was very small and they were not, so my normal defense was to run as fast as I could for as long as I could in the hope of finding some place safe to hide until they got bored and left. At home, that was usually in the bathroom where I could lock the door. That sense of relief only lasted a few moments before they were able to unlock the door with a nail and then I would collapse in terror and scream. 

On one occasion, I was caught out in the open, with no safe haven in sight! It happened somewhere between 4th and 6th grades, outside of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, at the corner of South Latah St. and West Cassia St. in Boise, Idaho. My older brother was, once again, chasing me in order to beat me up. He will claim that I was calling him names or something, but it was probably an unprovoked attack. I was running for my life! I soon realized that I was about to be caught, so I dove behind a tree that was near a corner of Sacred Heart. If my brother went one way, I went the other way, keeping the tree between us. This didn’t work for very long before my brother dodged one direction and then quickly reversed, causing me to turn in a panic and run right into the corner of the concrete sill of a beautiful stained glass window. I fell down. Suddenly my brother wasn’t attacking me but he was trying to be really nice to me. I put my hand up to my head and stuck my finger into a mushy hole. Then I started to cry. I was sure I touched my brain! My brother guided me across a playground, which seemed inordinately huge, and down Berkeley St toward home. I thought that I was plugging the hole in my head with my finger, but blood was still pouring down over my face. When my mom saw me, I don’t remember her saying anything, but she shoved my head under the faucet in the kitchen sink and went at it like she was trying to cleanse my soul with a scrub brush. Later we took a trip to the emergency room for stitches. 

I’m sure my brother still feels remorse for what he did to me. The scar is only visible if I shave my head.

Scott, Minneapolis, Minnesota

*****

Because of the scar on my chin, I would never name a son Douglas!

My favorite winter activity was ice skating, and I lived only a few blocks from the Riverside Park skating rink. Though my skating skills were not advanced in any way, I loved being on ice, no matter where I found it.

An ice-covered sidewalk outside Monroe Elementary School in south Minneapolis provided the setting for a fun recess-time activity. We fourth graders treasured those minutes outside the classroom. For some reason, my friends and I decided to slide on an icy sidewalk near the school. In our rubber boots, we could make a running slide great fun. However, in the midst of our simple entertainment came some older boys, determined to show us how to do it the right way. In the process, a boy named Douglas slid into me and knocked me down. My chin and the icy sidewalk had an encounter.

The school nurse called my mother who called my dad, and I was soon sitting in an exam room in the Bloomington-Lake Clinic. To close the gaping, bloody cut on my chin, the doctor used several tiny metal clamps and quickly bandaged my chin. Unfortunately, that bandaging made me think I looked like a goat!

In time, my chin healed, the clamps were removed, but the scar remained. It became a good source of entertainment as I retold the story to my children and grandchildren, but there was really no lesson to be learned, just an aversion to the name Douglas!

Avis, Newfolden, Minnesota

*****

My most memorable scar, and the one I have told my kids about most, came when our dog Tina bit my cheek when I was around eight. Tina was in the midst of having her first and only batch of puppies when I decided to crawl into her doghouse to count how many puppies she had delivered. Apparently, mama dogs in labour do not like to share that experience with anyone else. She growled and then promptly snapped at my cheek. 

I did not go in right away for stitches since Mom was in Grand Forks that week for grad school (Mom, please feel no guilt!) and the older sisters were in charge. Once Mom was home, she had a friend come over who was an RN to see if the cut could still be pulled together. It could not. If felt like years that I regularly rubbed vitamin E on the scar to diminish its appearance, but maybe it was months. The scar has certainly faded now, and I rarely think about it. 

It has made for a good story over the years, especially for children who like to pester animals.

Ingrid, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

*****

I have a centimeter-long, barely-there scar on my left palm. I got it thirteen years ago when I thought I could cut an apple by myself while Mom was napping. The accident happened when I tried to pull a knife out of its sharpening case, and I slit my hand in the process. It was pretty deep, but surprisingly didn’t hurt that much. I tried to get a Band-Aid for it, but Dad wrapped it in gauze instead.

Inga, Minneapolis, Minnesota

*****

In September of 1995 I entered Army basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. During one portion of our bayonet training, we had to run up to the top of a rocky hill, stab some targets, and the run down the other side of the hill and through the rest of the course, stabbing targets as we went. As I crested the hill, I tripped and cut my knee open on some rocks. There was a significant amount of damage and blood, so a drill sergeant, appropriately named Sergeant Battle, took me back to the barracks to clean up the wound. He handed me a scrub brush and some rubbing alcohol and told me I could clean the gravel out of the gash, put a bandage on it, and get back out there, or I could go to the doctor, get stitches, and start basic training over.

Rubbing alcohol and a scrub brush really hurts.

Scott, Minneapolis, Minnesota

*****

When I was younger, my older brother and I were messing around in the garage with all the power tools. My brother accidentally bumped me while the table saw was on, and I lost my pinky down to the second knuckle. There’s definitely a scar there.

Jimothy, Aberdeen, South Dakota

*****

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*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date

*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.

 

© 2014 Tamara Jorell. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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