Scars…..a road map to memories.

Of a morning, when I am cleaning up for another day’s adventure, my eyes seem to search out the old scars on my body, of past deeds, misdeeds, mistakes and lessons learned.   Old hurts, that leaves a scar to remember.

I see the scar that cuts through my right eyebrow and up on my forehead….I remember driving my 1936 Pontiac sedan, which I had bought from working in the hay fields the summer of my 15th birthday..driving it on a back gravel Ozark road with the lights off…playing tag with my buddy, Bucky Goss, who was driving his folks 1952 Chevy, also with the lights off…on a night as black as the inside of an Angus bull…we found each other with a head on, and since I was driving with my head out the window, trying to see where I was going, when we hit…my forehead hit the metal divider for the wing window…and thus the scar for the rest of my life. Lesson learned: Don’t do that, it hurts.

There is the scar on my left hand, between my first and second fingers.  US Navy.   1955.   Morning Inspection on deck of my ship, USS Bryce Canyon (AD36).  New guy who had just been on board a short time, standing next to me.  He leans over and says, “Hey, give me your knife a minute”.  Now, all sailors carry their knives on their belt, and we keep them razor sharp.  Without thinking, I reached down and unsnapped my knife and handing it to him.  He opened the blade, let out a yell and turned and started cutting on me.  As he came in, swiping at my chest, I put up my hand to stop him, the blade cut down between the two fingers of my left hand and on into the ligaments and muscle, guaranteeing that I would never be able to make a bar chord on my guitar for the rest of my life.  Some of the other men grabbed him and kept him from killing me, getting him down on the deck and securing him hand and foot.  They carried him to the brig, locking him up til we got back to port, while I went to the Sick Bay and got my hand stitched up.  The guy just flipped out and I was handy, I reckon, and he ended up getting a less than honorable discharge.  Lesson learned: Man, don’t be giving your good knife to some fool that wants to hurt you, that ain’t smart.  It hurts.

My eyes travel down to my right shoulder..where a scar worms across the upper meat…1960, my dad and I were stretching a barbed wire fence strand so tight that the wire parted and whipped back across my shoulder like a razor, cutting it to the bone. Lesson: Sure, it hurt, but the memory of working on something with my dad is what endures, not the pain. Pain is for a little while, dad’s are forever.

Then, there is the scar on my left thumb, still fresh looking after fifteen years. My son, Scott, and I were fishing in the Upper Mississippi River in Wisconsin, when he hung our first Northern Pike. Now, I am a bass fisherman and had no knowledge of Northern Pike at all….when Scott got the big Northern up to the boat, I reached down with my left hand to “lip” the fish and pull him in the boat. The Northern Pike, already pretty mad from the fight, grabbed hold of my thumb with those razor sharp teeth and like to have chewed it off. Lesson learned: Know your fish in whatever territory you are fishing. But, the memory of my son catching that big fish…that is what has endured, and will as long as I have a memory.

Scars, like the lump in my right jaw, broken by a set of brass knuckles, a reminder of a road tour that went wrong.  Several other cuts and lumps that remain from a life, lived active, without restraint.  The lump on my head from a runaway horse that threw me on a gravel road, hitting my head on a rock and causing me to see lots of stars.  Lesson learned: Don’t ever turn your back on someone with brass knucks in their pocket and when that horse runs away…grab leather and hang on, man, what’d ya’ think, that gravel road was gonna be soft?

Other scars, other memories, all in a life’s work. Mistakes leave scars, just like in everything we do in life, we remember them, but God forgives all our mistakes, the scars might remain, but the pain is gone. Lesson learned: Trust God for everything, follow His  leading, don’t try to run ahead without Him, turn the reins over to Him and enjoy the ride.


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