Saturday, 17 February 2018

So what is it with scars.... ?

A few years back I am swimming in a friend's pool. As I get out and start to towel off, he notices the 8 x 5cm rough looking scar on my upper leg. How on earth did you get that he asked me.

(I have other scars on me too... but that one is a stand out.)

A warm sunny day in July 1988 and a 35 year old me is standing on the flight deck of the USS Nimitz, all 1090 foot of aircraft carrier, photographing jets involved in war games in the Mediterranean. A Tom Cat is loaded down in the catapult, both engines screaming towards maximum thrust ready for take off.

Without warning, the starboard engine has an uncontained compressor fan failure and shards of high speed metal rupture through the side of the aircraft and spray the deck. A piece of metal hits my Nikon F3 hanging around my neck and smashes it to pieces.. but the camera has prevented the flying object from punching a hole in my chest.

My upper left leg is not so lucky and a smaller chunk of metal punches a 2 inch hole in my leg. Blood everywhere and me in shock.

USS Nimitz. Entered service in 1975

At this point my friend says.. "Bloody hell.. that is an amazing story."

Well.. there could be another explanation.....

I am visiting my brother Viv and his bloody red cattle dog runs at me and literally chews a hole in my leg. Destroyed my new dacks I bought in the US of A and just missed my wedding tackle. Came back for another go at me so I shoved an Ericson mobile phone in its mouth.

By this time Viv had grabbed the dog (which had form on attacking people) and dragged it away. A trip to the Doctor followed, shots of antibiotics etc and a post treatment infection.. all good fun.

So the truth is...

The dog bit me... but the first story sounds a whole lot more adventurous, even romantic. In fact I did photograph the jets leaving the Nimitz.. but with a telephoto lens from a harbour wall in the Med.

But now with time, that scar has faded.. but do we not also carry scars in our hearts?

Do they ever fade?

Flashback to 1963 and in our school reader there is a story of a man going away on business. He tells his son to behave for his mother, and gives the mother a piece of timber and some nails. "Every time you are naughty, your mother will drive a nail into the timber... and I will see them on my return. But if you do something nice for your mother, she may remove a nail.. or two".

So away goes the business man and the small boy gives his mother grief, but then redeems himself.

Father returns a week or so later and asks to see the piece of timber. No nails.. and he says to his son... "Son, I am glad to see there are no nails in the timber. But I can see where 4 were in there, and then removed. So obviously you were naughty and then made it up to your mother. And see the holes left behind, these are like the scars you have left on your mother's heart when you were naughty and upset her."

At around age 10 this had an amazing effect on me.

You can drive them in... but the scars remain when you pull them out!

Some time around then, I bought a small electric motor from the local toy shop... and ran it night and day using up a king's ransom in batteries. Sunday night it is getting cold and the motor won't go. A very overtired boy who badly needs a bath asks his father to repair it. Now remember my father at this stage is 65 years of age. He takes it down under that big old house at Clayfield on a cold night and in poor light, he solders  new copper wires to the terminals on the motor. I get shuffled off for a bath by mother. When I come out of the bath, I try the motor and it won't go. (The reason is the varnish insulation on the wires.. but as it is still some years until I become an auto electrician.. I don't know this)

So this overtired boy yells at his father who is in front of the TV set and throws the motor at him. It hits his cheek and draws blood. That man must have loved me.. he just said.. "You are overtired son, go to bed!"

So now after his cheek heals and there is no sign of the cut, he is carrying those scars in his heart and as I grew up I found I had them too. In 1979 as he lay on his death bed in the hospital, I reminded him of that and begged his forgiveness. I think I cried.

His answer surprised me....  "Son... you were but a boy and I never gave it another thought. Your mother had asked me to put you in the bath and send you to bed when you came to me with that motor. That is what I should have done".

And he went on to say.. "When you were seventeen, I never said a word to you either when you hit a kangaroo in my car and didn't tell me!"

How on earth did you know I hit a roo in your car?

"Ford told me it had kangaroo skin and fur jammed around the sump drain plug when they serviced it. It could only have been you.. your mother doesn't drive."

Why didn't you say anything?

"Well, no harm was done.. apart from the demise I assume of a kangaroo!"

And now nearly 40 years after he passed.. I still carry that scar from throwing the motor at him.

Of course there are also scars inflicted on me by life in general. Finding a mate's body after he has been dead for a few days, losing close friends and family to death.

It ain't all pretzels and beer you know.

And scars inflicted by other people I was close to. People whom I trusted, but turned out to be untrustworthy and they betrayed me. From those traumatic events,  scars remain, possibly the nails too... but they have served to toughen me up. A lot!

Possibly too much as I now find I don't suffer fools gladly. As Debra herself says, "I am just telling it like it is!" But I change that to "I am just telling it as I see it."

Other more regular scars are my right thumb.. where I hit it with a bloody big hammer while using our speedo cable squaring machine. Left arm where Wayne and I fell off a large 3 person billy cart in Roseby Avenue at Clayfield in 1967. Back of my hand where an I.V. drip was installed when I was hospitalised in 1973. All still there... but fading away quietly as I head into old age.

And what I have learned about scars after 6 decades on the planet is this.

The scars all fade.... eventually.....except the ones you carry in your heart.

They never fade despite the fullness of time and make you who you are.

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