I have a scar less than half an inch below the outer corner of my left eye. You can see it only up close, or if I’ve been crying, it turns a deeper shade of red than the skin around my eyes. The scar was a result of a childhood accident that happened two months before my third birthday. I was in the backyard at my babysitter’s house with my friend Rhonda, who was five years older than I. My babysitter, Aggie, and her husband, John, were Rhonda’s legal guardians.
Rhonda was playing golf with a broom handle and a plastic baseball. I, being a closer follower than her own shadow, positioned myself right behind her. The way she swung her pretend club back, she must have been trying to clear a sand trap as wide as the Sahara, but there was my chubby little face between her and the perfect swing.
The stick clocked me below my left eye, splitting open the skin. The only thing I remember after that is lying on the couch and looking up at my mom who had arrived to take me to the doctor. My mom still talks about walking in the house and seeing me, Rhonda and Aggie crying.
Aggie, bless her heart, was never able to have children of her own, but she’d always been a babysitter. She was old enough to be our grandmother, but children were her weakness. She once kept a little boy who, on the last day she saw him, complained of being hungry when his father came to pick him up. The father told Aggie there was no need to give him a snack, as they were going right home. The next day, however, the boy became ill, of what I don’t know, but he died soon after. While the boy’s death had nothing to do with his not eating before he left Aggie’s house, she often made the statement that she hated to hear a child say he or she was hungry.
I can only imagine the fear she had when my mom came and rushed me to the doctor.
Many more tears, screams, and two stitches later, I was patched up and sent home. I had a lovely shiner which is well-documented in too many childhood photos. Aggie became more of a third grandmother than a babysitter, and Rhonda was the sister I never had.
As adults, Rhonda occasionally quizzed me about the accident, asking me if I ever felt mad about having that scar because of her. Here was this woman whose body had been ravaged by juvenile diabetes — having lost half of one foot and two toes off the other — and she was worried that I felt self-conscious about a scar that was barely visible.
In the six years since Rhonda’s death from diabetic complications, whenever I touch the scar, I remember her concern for me when she had so much more to worry about. Of all the imperfections on my face (not to say I’m hideous or anything, but we all find our own fautls), the scar is my favorite because it is a connection to such a meaningful memory of her.