I have a multicolored bruise on my upper lip.

It's been developing for a couple of days, becoming more pronounced and purple by the hour.

I've been watching it come into focus, the way film could be seen developing in the darkroom, back when we had film and darkrooms.

Years ago, I walked around with a truly horrifying blotch on my right cheekbone, the kind of bruise that causes people seeing it for the first time to take a step back.

"I fell on ice while running," I'd say to these people. Sometimes I'd explain that I was looping around in my own driveway when I hit a slippery patch, and the crashing sound of my foot hitting the garage door obliterated, at least momentarily, the shock of my face connecting with the frozen ground.

I thought something had exploded.

When I got to my feet and realized that not only I but the house and outbuildings remained standing, I could hardly fret over a bruise.

I enjoyed calling that bruise a "sports injury."

I used "sports injury" again when I broke my wrist nearly 20 years ago. I was running then, too, on the same driveway, though the second calamity occurred at the road end, not the house end.

Again, I was turning, and this time my toe caught the lip of a frozen rut.

I was down just like that, and while I had no bruises to show off later, I did have a fat cast on the arm I'd flung out to push away the upcoming ground.

Now here's my lip, which I can't claim is a sports injury. At least, I don't think I can. To be honest, I don't know what happened.

I have my suspicions. If a forensic scientist could measure this bruise and compare it to the delicious contours of my younger grandson's head, I'm virtually certain we'd have a match.

All the grandchildren visited recently, and as a booster, I saw two of the three 48 hours after that.

On both days, I could be found underneath a wiggly pile of small legs, arms, fragrant necks and silky brown, red and yellow hair. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that one of their heads accidentally bonked my lip.

I'm blaming my younger grandson because he's the only one who can sit on my lap and still offer enough room over his blond fluff to see a book.

A good deal of jostling goes on at these times, though, and anyone's head, knee or elbow might have done the deed.

Frankly, I could emerge from one of these sessions with a lip the size of a monarch larvae and two teeth rolling on the floor and not notice anything amiss until my husband and I were alone again. "Gee," I'd say then, peering in the mirror. "I wonder when this happened."

It reminds me of my own childhood, when scrapes and even oozing wounds didn't penetrate my consciousness until hours later.

Once, while riding bikes with my friend, Wendy, I stopped suddenly and bounced off the seat of my second-hand boys bike, onto the bar that connected with the handlebars. Delicacy forbids further description, but when my mother saw the resulting injury, she did more than take a step back -- she practically swooned. She didn't know what to do first: call the doctor, ring for brandy or put me to bed.

Most startling of all, she immediately told me I could stay home from school the next day.

This, from a mother who never let a person stay home who wasn't running a fever, throwing up and bleeding from both ears. The amazement I felt at that moment lingers to this day.

But I failed to seize the moment. I felt fine -- sore, but sore in loco only -- and staying home seemed bizarre, like staying home because it's Tuesday.

I went to school. I don't remember anything else about that incident. No, wait. I do remember one thing: The bike was blue.

As is this bruise, mostly. If I could preserve it always as a souvenir of having these three sweet souls in my life, I'd wear it with pride.

Write to Margo Bartlett at margo.bartlett@gmail.com.