By R. Jayess
ART TIMES Spring 2016
IT WAS NOT noticeable to most, but the scar on his right upper lip was never forgotten to him…even though it was now over 80 years old and the scar truly barely noticeable.
Leaving his upper lip, he moved his razor over his throat, up his chin and then over both sides of his face.
“Yup,” he murmured to himself. “Eighty-two years old—and I still remember it.”
Well, not actually remembered it….after all, he was just an infant when the dog bit him on the face, leaving the telltale scar that stayed with him through life.
In later years, his older brother and sisters had told him that the family pet—a German Shepherd—had been jealous of the “newcomer” that seemed to be monopolizing on the family’s attention and simply “grabbed him by his head” while he crawled across the floor.
“He didn’t really hurt you…just kind of split your upper lip,” my brother said. “Guess his teeth were sharper than he realized.”
“Well, he did bleed a lot,” his oldest sister said.
“It scared Mom enough to grab you and rush you over to the laundry sink,” the younger of my sisters chimed in. “After she washed the blood off your face—you looked a mess—I remember she put a band-aid on your upper lip.”
“Yeah,” my brother interrupted, “and then made us get rid of our dog all because of you” He jabbed his finger toward my face, then spurted through laughter, “But we did have a big discussion about it…Dad wanted to keep the dog but Mom insisted that he had to go.”
“Well, we really did love him,” my younger sister quietly said.
He guessed she meant the dog.
He took a towel from the rack and dried his face. Although he remembered the discussion between him and his older siblings, he could not recall the dog’s name. Surely they had a name for him? But all he could remember was that it was a German Shepherd. He shrugged and finished drying his face.
He glanced in the mirror looking at the scar, which always stood out after he shaved. For a few hours anyway,
Later that day, as he was immersing himself in reading Herodotus—ancient history always being a subject he returned to throughout his life—his train of thought was interrupted by his memories of that discussion between himself and his older siblings that he had recalled that morning during his shave.
Hmmmm, he thought. Ancient history. Much of what Herodotus wrote was first-hand memories that he himself had actually experienced. Being the “Father of History” as he was often referred to by later historians, what he “remembered” had to be first-hand…other than the scattered inscriptions graven on tombstones or stone plaques commemorating certain events, heroes or battles left on site and oral traditions such as poetry and story telling, there were no “writings” to refer to. But were memories really that dependable? Even first-hand ones?
Ancient history. Hmmmmm. How much “ancient history” do I unconsciously contain about my early years?
Well, I do have a strong fear of dogs— that must surely be the result of that dog bite. But this is a fact that I live with every day.
What other memories of that time still lie dormant in my sub-conscious? Surely my early life furnished enough material for other long-buried memories?
What truly hidden scars remain?
(R. Jayess lives in the Hudson Valley, NYS).