Growing up as a middle child (seventh of nine), I was the queen of hand-me-downs and leftovers. I also got left at stores more than once as my mother shepherded the rest of the kids into the old blue dodge station wagon not realizing one little chickadee was playing quietly alone in some corner of the store or another. I vividly remember one of the incidents and still recall the image of the vehicle driving off as I stood there. Bear in mind, this was decades before cellphones. Thankfully, the shopkeeper was a lovely lady. With a great duck pull-toy with cool bright yellow paddles that spun. No worries there!
A few years later, at the age of 10 or 11, I suffered third-degree burns in a kitchen accident and was in the hospital (Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital) for nearly six weeks. In a perverse way, it became a gift to me. For once in my life, I was THE CENTER of attention. My parents came to visit, brought friends, cards, gifts from people I hadn’t heard from in ages. My demeanor was bright and cheery. So much so, according to my mother, that some of the physicians would come into my room to get “cheered up” themselves. Despite the pain and suffering (don’t get me wrong, there was a ton of that at times), there was some great good to be had.
BUT, I was a competitive swimmer before the accident and went back to swimming even after the burns on my legs and thighs had healed, though I bore dark, thick visible scars. The doctors had deemed it unwise to perform plastic surgery and skin grafts at that age. I learned to shrug off the stares and comments of those unable to hide their reaction to my unsightly scars and developed a thick inner skin to match the thick scar tissue that encased much of my upper thighs and behind one knee.
As I got older, I realized those scars made me who I was — a deep and insightful person — far more interested in what was below a person’s surface than the exterior package. I never did get the skin graft surgery. In the end, I learned to celebrate my scars. Embrace them.Revel in them. That is why, when I saw this image, I had to co-opt it.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a fracture, scar or chip that you have learned to celebrate?