Renee and I had taken our daughters to the Magic Kingdom and after two action-packed days at the Disney Parks, we chose Sunday to lounge by the pool while the girls swam. She knows my story well and so my scars were nothing new even in bathing suit format. But hers, well, she had never told me about them and the plot thickened.
Renee was 12 and boiling water to make hot dogs. Somewhere in the transfer to the counter, hot dogs still boiling away, she jiggled the pot. Hot oily water gushed on to her thigh. Renee watched as the boiling water seared her skin, sealing her tights to her upper leg. The times being the times, Renee tried to self treat second-degree burns. “More than anything else, I remember the pain. I had to peel the fabric of the tights off my leg,” she said. Over time, the skin on her thigh turned an unsightly black. Horrified she peeled it back time and time again. It took a year to heal. She used home remedies to speed the healing because her family didn’t take her to the hospital for treatment.
Now, the scars on her thigh healed to a faded pattern of reddish blotches. Renee needed to point them out to me. I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.
As we lay by the pool, I couldn’t get Renee’s story out of my mind. It consumed me for hours. Was it better to remember the searing pain so vividly as she did? Was it worse to remember peeling blackened skin from your leg? Was it more common than not that families in the 70s didn’t rush to hospitals for home accidents?
Much as I have tried, I have yet to find anyone who can tell me the blow-by-blow details of my accident. I don’t remember the pain of the majority of the surgeries, only the one I had when I was 18. I don’t remember blackened skin but surely it was there. My burns were third degree, a notch up from Renee’s. It amazed me to see how her burns had healed, how they were all but hidden.
It seems to me that everyone has at least one vivid childhood story. An accident. An incident. A hurt that may not have yet healed.
It feels good to hear someone else’s story, in this case a poolside secret, a swim suit story. Do you have a secret to share?