Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Butterfly

My momma's tummy began to grow when I was four years old. As soon as they told me that there would soon be a little brother or sister to play with, I created an imaginary little sister who was with me wherever I went. When my parents found out the little one was a boy, they were afraid to tell me for fear that my little heart would be broken. But when they gently broke the news to me, my imaginary sister cheerfully became an imaginary brother and all was well. When my little brother was born there was much rejoicing. I loved him, held him, fed him his bottle, and was a very happy big sister. Many came to see him, and this part of my story focuses on a day when my dad's secretary came to see my baby brother and brought along her dog.
"Can I stay on the porch and play with him?" I asked, and the adults gave me permission as they headed in to the living room to sit and coo over my chubby little brother. Our dog, tied away from the house in readiness for our doggy visitor, was barking unhappily over the situation. I pet the new dog--a big German Shepherd type dog--and in my childish mind it seemed that this visitor needed good Southern hospitality: an offer of some food.
And so I poured him a bowl of our dog's food and squatted down to become acquainted. He didn't much like the interference with his meal.
He growled and lunged at my face. I must have cried out because my next memory is dad, the secretary, and my mom holding my little brother standing at the door out to the porch frozen in shock. And this is the real horror of the situation. Can you imagine being a momma and seeing your little four year old covered with blood with her cheek hanging open? I remember no pain from the dog bite, but I do remember the look of horror on my momma's face, and that is enough!
After that must have come a flurry of movement. My mom took my little brother to the her parents and then rushed to the hospital. The secretary held a wet wash cloth over my cheek as my dad rushed me to the hospital. On the way there my dad ran a red light. When I pointed that fact out to him, he said through gritted teeth, "Olivia, you can do that in an emergency." 
When we arrived at the hospital, I was put in a room to clean the blood off of me. To me it seemed that everyone else was much messier and I can remember the incredulous smiles from my family when I pointed that out to the nurses.
It wasn't long before I was being wheeled in to tiled operating room. A masked doctor offered to let me choose a small stuffed animal from a box full of different animals. I took my time, deliberating over whether to choose the bear, the cat, the owl... They finally reminded me with slight impatience that we needed to begin the surgery and so I settled on the little owl. After 60-something stitches, I was ready for recovery.
The eight days that followed are a blur of gifts and the hospital toy room and visitors. It really was a marvelous time for a little girl of four. 
The doctors did an excellent job of stitching up my face. There were several parts of skin missing, which they were able to manufacture and as you can see from the picture above, the scar was not a predominant feature of my face. When I was in third grade I had plastic surgery to remove the larger pieces of scar tissue.
When I was a babysitting teen, one of my little charges (an inquisitive three year old) asked me one day, "Where did you get that butterfly?" After puzzling for a while, I finally figured out that she was talking about my scar. To her the lines on my face resembled a butterfly. What a beautiful picture of what my scar became to me. I was proud of being different. My parents must of have done an excellent job of teaching me about real beauty. I was never scared of dogs, and I knew that my scar was a gift, not a curse from a loving Lord.
Now my scar has faded quite a bit, and I get a little frustrated when I mention it and people look at me puzzled and say, "What scar?" To me, this large mark on my face, is nothing but the artwork of my creative God.
Linked with Mommy's Piggy Tales.
Memory lane is definitely a place I love that brings me great joy!


  1. what a beautiful story! It's so nice to read about people learning to live and accept their "scar" and it's even a blessing to you =) This could be an inspirational story for lots of young kids...thanks for sharing!

  2. Hello I found you through the Things I Love Thursday link up!
    What a great memory! Not the actual dog bite, but the fact that your family's faith made what could have been a "bad" memory, in to a great one! Be Blessed!

  3. I love this story, not only for the happy ending, but how I can see in your little four-year-old self, glimpses of who you are now! =D

  4. I absolutely loved this trip down memory lane! I was bit in the eye by my dog, Pepper, when I was 5 (I think). No scar was left except for the one on my heart when I realized mama had gave the dog away because of the incident. I forgave her the minute it happened...mama didn't. One of my first lessons of forgiveness.
    I love your butterfly. It kisses your cheek just right.

  5. What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing.
    It's amazing what our minds choose to remember, though I can only imagine what your poor mother remembers!
    How wonderful to read about someone who embraces their differences in a world where everyone seems scared to let others see who they really are.

  6. That is a darling photo, by the way, scar or no scar. What a story! I'm sitting here with a German Shepherd at my feet. Nice that you didn't grow up afraid of dogs. That kind of experience puts many people in fear the rest of their lives.

    I'm with you on the mass murderer thing. I hate ants AND those horrid beetles that flood in here in the fall.

  7. What a wonderful story! I laughed about the red light. I remember saying things like that as a child as well. ;-)

  8. Awwwww... I loved this story. I didn't even notice the scar on your cheek until you mentioned it in the story. And I love how the child you were babysitting thought it was a butterfly. Kids have the best imaginations!

  9. You did made me cry. How scared yet how proud your parents must have been of the way you reacted to it all.

    I can just imagine how powerful this story will be in teaching your own girls about bravery, true beauty, and about you their God honoring mother. Thanks for sharing it with us too!

  10. What a brave little girl you were! And such a wonderful attitude! Even with no bad experince as a child, I tend to be weary of bigger dogs. As an adult though I did have my Dad's dog snap at my face once, but I pulled back in time to only have it leave some minor scratches- apparently I was in 'her' space while sitting on the back of my Dad's truck!
    Thank you for sharing!

  11. That is a great story. I can imagine the fear, because I was bitten in the face by a dog, too. Only I was 12 and old enough for it to cause me years of fear around strange dogs. I think it is absolutely amazing that you didn't get upset and that you loved your scar! That is a definite testament to good teaching and God's grace.