When my mother was small she accidentally tipped a saucepan of boiling water on herself and was hospitalised for burns on her arms. It has become a family joke that it was, in fact, the greatest time of her life. Endless attention, confined to reading book after book in bed, the need to only whimper and have someone run to her bedside. In a large family, living in a small house, this was luxury. Her sisters were nearly incandescent with jealousy.
My mother has scars from the burns, some 55 years later. And, Hallmark card-esque as it is (not that there is a card that says ‘sorry about your burns but glad they made you into the person you are!’), they tell a story about her; but not the only one.
I’m thinking about her scars because I went to see a cosmetic surgeon recently about the clumps of red, spidery veins creeping up my legs, and he told me that they were a birthmark; one that is very rare and that comes later in life. It has made me feel perversely special. I have already cancelled one appointment to get the redness removed with a laser. Because after years of being asked if I was sunburnt, hot, or plain old ''what’s that on your legs?'' it isn’t bothering me as much. Maybe because scars and birthmarks make us
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