It’s not often my father surprises me, but last night he managed to.
My parents and I were walking to the car after a rather pleasant night on my balcony having a BBQ with Tracey’s family and chatting about how lucky we all are to still have my wife in our lives.
“You know that time in Papua New Guinea when I had that accident?” Dad asked me as we arrived at the fence.
I mumbled I did, even though I only know about it from his telling me. At eighteen or thereabouts he was on the back of an Army Reserve truck in Goroka when it went around a corner and threw him off, crushing him between the truck and the embankment. I knew from his telling of the incident that he’d damaged his bladder. What I didn’t know was there were other complications as well.
“After my operations I had a lot of the Reserve blokes come to see me in hospital,” Dad told me. “They were only allowed in two at a time, and with all the tubes and shit coming out of my middle section they all wanted to know the same thing – what have you done to yourself?”
It was around this point I realised I hadn’t heard this exact version of this story before.
“As in your injuries? Your bladder?” I asked.
“My bladder wasn’t worrying me so much so I didn’t mention that,” Dad told me. “Trouble was I was drugged up on pain killers and I didn’t now much about anatomy and doctor speak. One word is just like the rest with those blokes.”
I understand what he means. I think universities could cut a year off medical degrees if they just stuck to smaller words. Maybe a three syllable limit or something sensible like that.
“So every couple of blokes that came in,” Dad continued, “I told the same story – I’d broken my pelvis in three places.” He snorted a laugh at this point. “Only I didn’t call it a pelvis. What I told everyone in my platoon was I’d broken my penis in three places.”
Which Dad thought was a hell of a punchline.
“Jeez, they must have been small fractures,” I heard my Mum chuckle as her head disappeared down into the driver’s seat on the other side of the car.
A great story to end a good night on. As wrong as it sounds, the only thing which could have made it better was if Tracey was there to chuckle at my Dad’s doodle as well.
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”