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Ann Cannon: Scars tell the tales of the lives we've lived

Published August 4, 2016 11:36 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Our son broke his collarbone last week, and it took all the king's horses and all the king's men to put it back together again. Also, Dr. Pepper Murray was a big help.

According to my friend Sally, who also broke HER collarbone this summer, this son is now an official member of the "Hey! I Broke My Collarbone, Too!" club. Here's the deal. Whenever something like this happens, people start coming out of the woodwork, telling you about their experiences with the same thing, and suddenly you've been inducted into a fraternity you never knew existed.

For example. Our family belongs to the "Hey! I Had Viral Hepatitis, Too!" club. When news leaked out that the Cannons were sick, people crept over to our house under the cover of night to tell us about the time they'd had viral hepatitis, too. Meanwhile, you can easily pick out new members of this club because they're the ones wearing signs around their necks from the Health Department saying UNCLEAN!

And also they have yellow eyeballs.

But that's not the point. The point is that my son will have an awesome scar — something to be proud of.

I didn't always feel this way about scars — my own in particular. I wanted to hide them with Bonne Bell concealer.

But now that I've run out of Bonne Bell concealer, I've had a change of heart. These days when I look at my scars, I see a physical record of the life I've lived.

See that scar on my finger? I can't even remember getting it. But my mom tells me I toddled into the garage of my grandpa's gas station — he was an auto mechanic — where I picked up an oil can and sliced my finger open. While I don't remember the incident, I do remember the garage with its soda machine filled with glass bottles of Squirt and all the old men sitting around shooting the bull as my grandfather worked on the vehicles of Big Piney, Wyo. To this day, the smell of oil on concrete is perfume to me.

When I look at the scars still visible on my right knee, I remember the bicycle accident I had when I was six years old. I ended up with an infection that went systemic and attacked my kidneys, putting me in bed for seven months. Those seven months — when I learned to read and write — changed everything that has happened to me afterward.

And those scars on my right wrist? Well, I did to my wrist what my son did to his collarbone. I was running with my friend Kathy in the high Avenues and right before I tripped over my feet and went down hard on my right side, I remember looking at the wide open sky and the valley below and thinking I had never seen a more beautiful morning.

I had a second surgery a few months later for a tendon transfer to regain the use of my thumb, because thumbs, as it turns out, are necessary. WHO KNEW?

During physical therapy I sat next to man who was patiently picking up marbles and stacking them in a box. When I asked him what he'd done to himself, he explained that he had Parkinson's disease and that he was trying to halt deterioration. I've never forgotten that conversation. There I was, working to regain something. There he was, working to forestall the inevitable.


Scars mean that you have lived. That something painful happened to you.

That somehow you figured out how to keep on going anyway.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.






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