The doctor told me I have a small scar on my eye and that he wanted to take a closer look at it to make sure there wouldn’t be any long-term problems.
A scar? On my eye? This definitely got my attention, as I have always imagined traumatic injuries to the eyeball would have to be indescribably awful.
“I don’t recall ever hurting it,” I told him. “I’ll ask my parents about it.”
“Oh, they wouldn’t know anything about it,” he replied. “Chances are, they didn’t even know.”
My parents might not have been the single best parents in the history of parenting, but I tend to think they’d be fully aware of anything that had the potential to have scarred my eyeball.
“Did you have dogs or cats growing up?” the doctor asked.
“Yes, dogs. Actually, both.” I found the question odd, but maybe he just wanted to distract me from thinking about the aforementioned eye scar, but really, that’s not something you can just easily forget.
“It’s fairly common,” he explained. “You can get an infection from, well, their poop (note: I’m assuming he means dogs/cats here and not my parents). Most people get an infection, get some scarring and never even know it. It’s not really a problem, but it can cause some holes in the eyes down the road.”
I might have passed out a little at “holes in the eyes.”
Later that day, I told Mom about the scar. The following is what she told me:
“Oh, that’s probably from that time that tree fell and a stick got stuck in your eye.”
“You were young. I think it was the second grade. You came home from school, whining about your eye hurting. I told you to go to your room and work on your school work. You came downstairs crying, saying you couldn’t because your eye hurt.
“I told you to go outside and play. You came inside crying, saying you couldn’t because your eye hurt.”
Note: I’m detecting a clear pattern of parenting from my mom, namely the “go do anything away from me” style.
“I looked in your eye, and I couldn’t see anything. You kept telling me it hurt, but I didn’t see anything. We sat down to eat supper, and you didn’t want to eat. You cried and said your eye hurt.
“I finally took you to see Dr. Noss. He took a look and said ‘Rose Lynn, he has a stick stuck in his eye. We’re going to have to pop his eyeball out to remove it.”
Me: “Wait a minute! So at this point, were you feeling appropriately awful since you thought I was faking yet they had to REMOVE MY EYEBALL?”
“I had looked and didn’t see anything,” she said by way of (author’s note: shoddy) explanation. “And he didn’t completely remove your eyeball. He put something in it that made it bulge out real far while it rolled almost all the way back around into your head. Sure enough, there was a stick in it. How was I supposed to see that?”
I feel like there are two life lessons to learn here. One, I’m reminded of Matthew 7:3-5:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Mom was too busy with her own routine (and to be fair, it was a busy one; however, allow me to again remind of you STICK IN THE EYEBALL), to truly notice that I was suffering. On my end, I didn’t stop to think that perhaps I could have been slightly more descriptive in terms of my pain and agony, particularly when trying to get Mom from stopping her work around the house, including making a large dinner, to pay attention to me. However, again, I was in the second grade.
Also, I had a stick in my eye.
The second lesson is that despite my mother’s best efforts to keep this story covered up for the past 30 years, I can no longer let her live this down. It will be brought up in every conversation from now until she passes away, and even then, I might bring it up in a eulogy. Every story about her, every conversation with her will involve the eye story.
I’m never going to stop talking about it.