There comes a time in your adult life when you think you know the history of your immediate family. After this week I will no longer presume to know all there is to know about my parents. Not that I thought they were without depth. I just had no idea of what lay lurking below the surface.
I expected for there to be many challenges when I moved home, into my parents house. However it has gone surprisingly well, and I'm going to walk away with a few gems - like radioactive monkeys.
A few days ago my mom, dad, and I were sitting with the newspaper talking about a fatal car crash reported in Friday's edition. My sister had told us of the accident the day before after she passed it by on her way to town.
(We interrupt this post for the following Public Service Announcement. The only person killed in the three car accident was not wearing her seatbelt. The two survivors were strapped in with belts intact. Please wear your seatbelt - EVERYTIME.)
This discussion evolved into accidents my parents had been in or had witnessed. It brought back a familiar story of my mom's accident with a drunk driver at the age of 14. My mom's neck was broken, and she had to wear a partial body cast and neck brace for a year. Mama said she had to go through many X-rays and mused about having so many, wondering how much radiation she had been subjected too.
At this point in the story Daddy looked over and said, "You couldn't have had as much as I did when I was driving a truck hauling those monkeys."
I just stared at him with an expression of "Huh?" on my face. I didn't even know what questions to ask for explanation. Thankfully I didn't have to.
Daddy told the story of how he had been driving a truck and had been on the road for about three weeks and wanted to head home. He asked his dispatcher for a load that would take him home. The dispatcher replied, "There is a medical testing facility where you can go get a load of dead monkeys. You can pick up a load of monkeys and take it by the house before you deliver it."
I sat listening with the same expression on my face.
Daddy continued saying that he did not believe his dispatcher. He knew there was a load at the testing facility that would take him home, but he didn't know what it would be. When he pulled up to the gate the security guard asked what he was picking up. Daddy said he laughed and said, "I'm here to pick up a load of dead monkeys, ha ha." The guard replied, "Don't laugh son, we got 'em here."
The monkeys were involved in radiation testing. When they died there were put into drums that were filled with water and frozen.
My expression had changed to disgusted horror. I didn't think the story could get any worse. Such a naive little one I am.
So Daddy hauled a truck full of dead, radioactive monkeys... home! Yes sir, he pulled his semi right up in front of the house and parked it for the night.
I couldn't believe my ears! "You parked it in front of our house? Are you serious?"
Daddy just laughed and said, "Nobody knew what was inside and they were frozen."
That wasn't the point!
Daddy went on to explain that he continued to haul radioactive material after that. This led to another story of a mishap on one trip. Daddy and his co-driver were at their delivery point going through a scan when a leak was discovered. Their clothes were taken and they were put through a chemical shower. The tractor-trailer was also cleaned. Daddy said that he was told his truck would be confiscated if it didn't pass re-inspection. When he asked what would happen to the truck, he was told it would be buried in the ground with the rest of the radioactive material, and the government would buy his company a new truck. Burial wasn't necessary.
By now, I am sitting with my head cocked to one side completely dumbfounded. I asked when all this took place. I wanted to know if I had been born during this time. Mama laughed and said, "No, you were born a few years before this happened." Then she smirked and added, "Do you think that could explain what happened with Mary?"
I was laughing so hard I was struggling for breath. My mama is funny! I couldn't wait to tell my little sister what was said! She would never believe I wasn't the one to say it.
Oh my. I have laughed so much since I've been home. I still don't have a job and I'm flat broke but I am so, so rich.