Thursday, May 27, 2010

St. Patrick’s Day Memory

My older brother, one of my guardians growing up, seemed to have a preoccupation with perfection. I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it became annoying at times.

It was St. Patrick’s Day—junior high school, seventh grade. I enjoyed home economics and shop classes the best. I had my clothes all picked out for this festive day. I pulled on my taffy green stretch pants and wore a white and green candy stripe shirt to match. I was a green candy cane. I felt in the spirit of the day, as I ventured off to school.

After lunch, I head for metal shop to put the finishing touches on a small garden shovel that I made. I tap the circular handle into place so it’s good and tight. I set down the mallet and try to pull the shovel from the wooden work table. It’s stuck. When it will not dislodge, I take both of my hands and pull hard. The next thing I know, I’m feeling a sting near my eye. As I steady myself, I see that blood is beginning to drip down. I calmly walk up to the teacher and wait until he’s done with his conversation, but he takes notice of me out of the corner of his eye. He throws his hands up and says, “What happened?!”

“I’m bleeding. I couldn’t get my shovel out…”

He cuts me off. Asks if I’m ok. He immediately sends another student with me to go down to the nurse’s office. I keep looking down at the red that is mucking up my carefully chosen St. Patrick’s Day outfit, and now I will probably have to go home.

The nurse hands me a tissue. Next thing I remember is my brother has arrived to retrieve me. “Let me see,” he says. “Ah, man! Your gonna have a scar.” He may have asked if I was ok, how was I feeling, but those are the words I remember. All I heard was a reinforcement of his perfectionist ways and preoccupation with a clear surface—perfection taken too far. “We’ll need to stitch it up, but it’s not that bad,” he says.

“I don’t want stitches and no doctor. Can’t you just put a band aid on it?” I say.

He thanks the nurse and takes me home. The car ride home is quiet. I look out the window at the passing trees. I keep my tissue on the cut or did they tape some gauze on? That part is a blur. We deal with it. When we arrive home, my brother butterflies the cut closed with medical tape. If he is saying anything more about the cut, I’ve tuned out. We apply Vitamin E oil to help with scarring during the healing process.

I still have the scar. It’s not visually noticeable to someone else really, unless you look for it. But when I look at it, I feel lucky because it was so close to my eye and it could have been much worse. When the weather heats up, sometimes the scar becomes sensitive, and I can feel it—just a reminder of St. Patrick’s Day; my brother and his funny ways—lucky that he took care of me and loves me; how I don’t like going to doctors, even today—and how I like to handle things my way. It feels as though the spirit is still there, of a girl dressed in green—of a girl who handled the situation pretty well considering—and feels very lucky that on that day, her aim was off a little.


Luciana said...

Rebb, this is precious. The way you weave your narrative and the way you show how a scar does not necessarily mean a bad memory, but a landmark of a moment that marks your growing up. Beautiful! :-)

Vincent said...

I think I would be like your brother, concerned about the persistence of the scar. Oddly, my eldest son got a scar from a trowel when he couldn't yet walk. I was gardening and he crawled over, somehow hit his head on the trowel edge. He still has the scar too.

keiko amano said...


I recall your past blog about your older brother a little. And since your parents are not around in the scene, I feel your older brother’s much anxiety. It’s almost as if he were waiting for some kind of accident like it. He was probably afraid of the worst situation which was to lose you. Listening to his worry about your scar, I think he was so glad you were okay, so he forgot to ask you if you were okay out of nervousness.

Often, people react opposite. I’m guilty of it, too.
But, what a love! Bless your brother! And, what a relief, you are okay!

Rebb said...

Lu, Thank you so much for your kind words. I like how you've phrased it as a "landmark of a moment that marks [my] growing up." That's lovely. :)

Rebb said...

Ah, Vincent, I find that very interesting that you would have a similar reaction as my brother did.

Ouch. When your eldest son received his scar, it must have hurt on such tender skin--and to still have that scar. Youngsters are so wonderfully curious, even if it means a few ouches to show for it!

Rebb said...

Keiko, Thank you for your perspective. Yes, you are probably very right about his overall anxiety in caring for me.

I'm sure I've been guilty of reacting opposite too :) Thank you for your kind words, Keiko.

keiko amano said...


I thought about it. Once, a friend of mine told me that her father worried about her so much that every day; he waited for her to come home from work. I always envy extra love and attention people receive because my family acted cooler than most. So, I said, “That’s good.” She wrinkled her nose and said, “He comes out the house and waits for me in the street.” She was about fifty. Love and care are good, but too much attention must be annoying.

Rebb said...

Keiko, Thank you for sharing. Yes, I definitely relate as we've noted in the past that our relationship to our mothers have similarities. I saw a picture of my mom looking warmer, but mostly I remember her being distant an cool, but I know she had a lot to deal with. It's interesting how we remember and what we remember.

Wow, your friend's dad would come out of the house. I guess, as with most things, there is a fine balance and an acceptance to set our children free at intervals, eventually allowing them to find their own way.